I just opened my back door to let my dog out on a beautiful, crisp autumn morning and what do I hear? Birds chirping? My fountain gently gurgling? No. I hear the menacing roar of backpack leaf blowers destroying the potential beauty of a fall morning. In a more rational world, I could stand outside sip my cup of coffee, soak up a little vitamin D, watch my dog sniff around and listen to the birds. These are reasonable expectations that most people have when they buy a house with a yard. These are simple everyday pleasures that research tells us are vital to our health. Encounters with a peaceful natural setting bring down your blood pressure and your cortisol level. A brief communing with nature before heading off to the roadways and highways to work would be beneficial to anyone’s health. This is what our tiny intown yards were meant to be, a respite from the noise and chaos of the city, but now our yards are the cause of the noise and chaos in the city. It’s a leaf blower warzone. Our neighborhoods have become uninhabitable for humans and birds alike.
The good news is gas leaf blowers have been banned or restricted in more than 170 municipalities in 31 states across the U.S. and the landscaping industry has adjusted with more environmentally friendly practices using brooms, rakes and electric blowers. Where these bans are in place, landscaping companies are still in business and prices haven’t gone up.