If You’re Concerned About Migrants and Their Treatment at the Border, What About Those Standing On Your Front Yard?

astoundingly filthy

Vulnerable workers desperate for jobs who can’t speak English well and most probably have little education are exploited by landscaping companies.  After a period of time in a job like this, is their health intact?   What are we subjecting workers to in order to achieve the wasteful and often toxic “Perfect American Lawn”?

Workers would need the very best hearing protection to save their ears from the onslaught of 90+ decibels at very close range for hours on end, but often they wear none.  The ear’s tiny hair-like cilia are damaged when subjected to noise over 85 dB and once damaged they never regenerate.   “Being around too much loud noise – like using a leaf blower… can cause permanent hearing loss. … And just two hours of operating a leaf blower, which hits 90 decibels, can cause damage and hearing loss.”   LINK: https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/03/21/leaf-blowers-threats-hearing-signal-springs-return-11034

As for the second-hand exhaust from leaf blowers, we recognize the tiny cigarette as a second-hand smoke danger, and yet we allow leaf blower mega-polluters on every campus across the country.  Gas leaf blowers are 1,000Xs worse than the tiny cigarette yet it’s the cigarette we ban because we’ve all had plenty of education about the dangers of 2nd hand cigarette smoke for years.  Harvard and Yale’s campuses have switched to electric landscaping equipment, so they’re living up to their reputation for being ahead of the curve.  They’ve been conscientious enough to read the ample studies easily accessible online and made adjustments to keep their students safe.  Leaf blower exhaust contains many of the same carcinogens as second-hand smoke.  An EPA report about the carcinogens found in the exhaust from leaf blowers and other lawn equipment:  “Adverse health effects from gas lawn and garden equipment emissions are well known. Benzene, 1,3 butadiene, and formaldehyde are listed among the top-ranking cancer-causing compounds. They cause lymphomas, leukemias, and other types of cancer.” (International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization)” SOURCE LINK: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/banks.pdf

LINK: https://www.almanacnews.com/news/2015/08/31/air-district-report-leaf-blowers-present-health-risks

Even the newest models of 4-stroke leaf blowers produce an amazing amount of particulate matter.  These pollution particles are so tiny they enter the lungs and then move into the bloodstream and the brain.  Studies link these particles to the onset of dementia. A recent study published in BMJ Open, found an association between the neurodegenerative condition and exposure to nitrogen dioxide and microscopic particles known as PM2.5. (Particulate Matter)

LINK: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/9/e022404





If You Own Even The Smallest Property, You Own Something Magical

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What kind of land stewardship do you believe in?

If you own even the smallest plot of land

You own something awe-inspiring and magical

You can choose to heal our planet

You can grow food for your family

You can plant native plants

You can save birds, bees, and butterflies

There’s so much potential


You hand your incredible resource over to

The leaf blower crews

Who also routinely spray herbicides and other pesticides

As regular “gardening practices”

Which further add to our environmental degradation

We’re all hoping you’ll make the right choice for the planet.

What If You’re Trying to Save Pollinators, But Your Neighbors Are Spraying To Kill Them


Some of us spend money, time and effort planting to help birds and pollinators survive, and yet homeowners who live around us undermine our efforts at every turn!  The unnecessary lawn chemicals and mosquito spraying decimate the pollinators we’re trying to save. Those of us who are planting for pollinators need protection.

If this is your situation too, take the frustration you feel about the pollinator-killing pesticides used in your neighborhood and write one email and then send that one email to every lawmaker, council person, and journalist you can find on the email address with a google search. If you don’t, then my email is the only one they’ll get!  Every time you send an email about your experiences, you’re educating someone.  A journalist may take an interest and share the problem with a wider audience.  To make an idea stick it needs to be repeated 5 or 6 times, so let’s keep sharing and writing. 

I decided to send my email to Senator Hansen first because of the excellent work she’s doing to save wildlife and native plants in Delaware.

Dear Senator Hansen,
     Thank you for highlighting the crucial importance of native plants and their essential role in restoring habitat for birds and pollinators. We need an Ecological Extinction Task Force like yours in every state. Many people across the country are very concerned about the potential extinction of our pollinators and the lack of native plants in landscaping and we’re trying to make a difference in our own yards.
     I’d like to suggest an idea to help the homeowners who are working so hard to ‘Garden for Wildlife’. Let’s reward those that have pollinator and bird habitat yards with a tax break. We need incentives for doing the right thing!
     For example, the American Bee Project gives agricultural tax benefits for land used for European honey bee foraging. Why don’t we give tax breaks to homeowners who provide a place for our native pollinators to forage, breed, and nest safely?
     Pesticide drift is a real concern. Many pollinator gardeners need protection from their neighbors who spray for mosquitoes.  Science tells us there are much smarter and safer answers if there truly is a mosquito issue. Mosquito spraying for profit is a growing industry that is decimating our beneficial insect population.
      Likewise, nothing fits the ‘unnecessary’ category more than lawn chemicals which are completely uncalled-for and they destroy habitat for our ground-nesting bees. 70% of our native bees nest in the ground. These useless and dangerous chemicals kill pollinators many other beneficial insects.
     With the constant loss of habitat, pollinators and birds need to find sanctuary in our yards. Pollinator Friendly Yards are a part of the solution to a big problem and we need help and protection.  Pollinators and birds deserve to have a refuge in native-plant-habitat yards.
      Thank you for considering this. We can all work to save pollinators from extinction and we’ll be saving humanity in the process.
Leslie Nelson Inman
Pollinator Friendly Yards on Facebook
Leaf blowers 300x more polluting than a car:
9 billion gallons of water used a day on landscape watering
Some birds so stressed by noise it appears they have PTSD


I have to give my little dog, Teddy, credit for starting me on my landscaping reform journey. I have a habit of walking my dog in downtown Atlanta historic neighborhoods, so I can gaze nostalgically at the century-old bungalows and mansions in Atlanta’s oldest suburbs.


Over time, I became distracted on our walks  by the little ‘caution’ signs on every front yard, and I was seeing these signs more frequently. I didn’t want my dog on those lawns; I didn’t want her to even sniff those yards. What could the landscapers be putting on the grass that warrants a caution sign? And why would homeowners want something potentially dangerous in their yard?  In the last few years, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the answers to those questions.

The answers have become my environmental preoccupation, and as my neighborhood has become more upscale, it’s become an issue I am living with every day. My home has become a little island of organic in a sea of Trugreen/Chemlawn and ‘Mow and Blow Guys’ with their loud, polluting leaf blowers.


Conventional landscaping practices do nothing to promote a yard as a healthy, functioning ecosystem. Of course, most homeowners are not thinking of their yard as a functioning ecosystem. Yards are seen solely as a means to enhance “the curb appeal”, not as a way to sustain birds or pollinators. Landscapers help homeowners choose the usual turfgrass, Begonias (annuals native to Africa), and Crepe Myrtles (Native to Asia), and then manicure it weekly, OCD-­style. Not a twig or a fallen leaf rests upon these perfect lawns.

Yards are not considered nature. Lawns are extensions of living ­rooms, and the grass is living room carpet; the outdoor carpet needs constant vacuuming (or blowing), so the leaf blower brigade is needed as often as possible.


The advent of these horrendous tools—the leaf blower and lawn chemicals—have made it possible to have a compulsively neat and unnaturally tidy yard. It takes a great deal of herbicide, glyphosate, and polluting machinery to achieve this ‘un­natural’ look.

The rest of us pay a high price with the constant leaf ­blower noise, along with the chemicals that flow into the local stream every time it rains. If you use the normal rakes and brooms that we all grew up with, then you’ll have a ‘good enough yard’, but apparently that’s not good enough. For many homeowners, it’s pristine, fake, toxic golf-course-style landscaping and whatever it takes to achieve that is fine!


To enumerate some landscaping issues more concisely, I find that conventional landscapers fail to understand these concepts:

  1. Biodiversity is highly desirable, but conventional landscapers plant monoculture turfgrass and spray it with dangerous products to maintain that biodiversity. (Scientific American, “Outgrowing the Traditional Grass Lawn ­ weed-free flowerless grass lawns are a monoculture in microcosm.)
  2. Native plants are best for providing food for birds, but conventional landscapers plant exotics. (Audubon.org, “10 Plants for a Bird-Friendly Yard“­ – insects evolved to feed on native plants and birds raise their young on insects.)


3. Peaceful and tranquil yards allow birds to call, communicate, and survive, but conventional landscapers blast raging leaf blowers. (Current Biology,Noise Pollution Changes Avian Communities and Species Interactions” – Humans have drastically changed much of the world’s acoustic background with anthropogenic sounds that are markedly different in pitch and amplitude than sounds in most natural habitats [1, 2 , 3 and 4]. This novel acoustic background may be detrimental for many species, particularly birds [1].)

     4. Organic is healthy, but conventional landscapers use 2, 4-­D, Mecoprop-­P and Dicambia and other herbicides on lawns and glyphosate on mulched areas and hardscapes. (EPA.gov­, “EPA Proposes Stronger Standards for People Applying Riskiest Pesticides” – The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing regulations that will limit exposure to dangerous pesticides. These new rules are meant to reduce the incidence of diseases associated with pesticide exposure, including non­-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and lung cancer.)

screenshot-2016-05-07-at-10-3    5. Fall leaves provide a place for wildlife to look for insect food, but conventional landscapers cart them away. (Chicago Tribune, “Autumn leaves can add valuable nutrients to garden” – fallen leaves turn into a rich soil amendment when you add them to your compost pile.)

     6.Fragrant native flowers draw pollinators, but conventional landscapers use polluting machinery that spews raw, unburnt fuel along with noxious fumes which make it more difficult for pollinators to smell/detect the life-sustaining plants they need. (Environmental Health Perspectives, “Air Pollution: Floral Scents Going Off the Air?” – Air pollution interferes with the ability of bees and other insects to follow the scent of flowers to their source, undermining the essential process of pollination, concludes a study by University of Virginia researchers.)

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Included in this post are just a few of the infographics I’ve made and shared around social media in hopes of changing the current conventional landscaping paradigm.