Leaf Blowers Must Die | Hooray for Sonoma’s Leaf Blower Ban

In honor of the City of Sonoma’s leaf blower ban (specifically against gas-powered leaf blowers), here’s a reprise of the column from 2009 that was one among the many voices that got the, um, leaf blowing.

Living in Sonoma during this time of year is like living in a postcard. Not the “Wish you were here” variety, which, in most languages translates as “neener-neener-neener,” but the ones purchasable at the visitors bureau that depict our rural countryside, braided with vineyards in autumnal hues that would make every crayon in the box snap from sheer envy. Burnt umber? Ha! Take a slow northerly drive down Highway 12 and we’ll see your “burnt umber” and raise you some “toasted sienna,” “persimmon brandy” and “cinnabar blush” to boot.

And what sounds accompany Sonoma’s autumnal palette? The rustle of leaves, the wind’s whistle through branches bare? No, a damned leaf blower – its stentorian belch ripping the noonday breeze like a chainsaw through a Monet.

I hate them. In my opinion, no object better exemplifies the worst of civilization than the leaf blower. Even the most grievous machines of mechanized death humankind has inflicted upon itself pale compared to the cosmic insult with which leaf blowers slur humanity.

The guillotine and the electric chair at least do something. The leaf blower, by contrast, does only what its name implies – it blows leaves around. Sure, it seems harmless until one considers all the noise and air pollution and the use of fossil fuels – not to mention the money bled and blood spent in obtaining said fuel – and the leaf blower proves useful only as an instrument of amplifying our ability to waste and ruin.

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I mean, what’s wrong with rakes and brooms? They’ve worked for millennia. What, are they, too Amish? One should note that the leaf blower began its repugnant life as an agricultural chemical sprayer. Evil begets evil.

From the second story of my office building, I watched some idiot blow leaves from the sidewalk into the gutter for the better part of an hour. Why would I waste my time watching him waste his? The spectacle of Western Civilization crumbling before my eyes must be studied and recorded so that future generations might learn from our folly.

I asked the guy to stop so I could, you know, think. He said he would, “when he was done.” His verbal jujitsu notwithstanding, I knew I had him beat on at least one point. Whereas I at least appeared to be wholly human, he had obviously turned cyborg. A symbiosis had occurred between man and machine, an ergonomic pas de deux that found the man with a roaring motor grafted to his back and an arm affixed with a plastic snout that exhaled his humanity into eddies of leaves and dust in a sustained bellicose, gaseous, thundering fart that signified the utter futility of man in the face of nature’s grandeur.

By now, of course, the man-borg has deafened himself from an inner-voice that once surely asked, “Has it come to this? Is this the purpose I’ve found for my life – inefficiently blowing leaves into a gutter with a reverse-vacuum cleaner strapped to my back?”

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind but it isn’t blowing leaves around. This is what you should do with your leaf blower – liberate yourself from the machine, damage it irreparably, then use it as the basis for a homemade Boba Fett costume. I’ve seen this done before and it’s awesome. Of course, to the leaf blower’s acolytes, this is all just a bunch of hot air, to which I reply, blow me.

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17 responses to “Leaf Blowers Must Die | Hooray for Sonoma’s Leaf Blower Ban”

  1. <span class="topsy_trackback_comment"><span class="topsy_twitter_username"><span class="topsy_trackback_content">Leaf Blowers Must Die http://bit.ly/2FBFzC</span></span&gt;

  2. <span class="topsy_trackback_comment"><span class="topsy_twitter_username"><span class="topsy_trackback_content">RT @the_bananafish: Ban leaf-blowers and save a landscaper (from death by skillet). http://bit.ly/3zN2eb</span></span&gt;

  3. AMEN!

    What is it with people? We have a beautiful, quiet neighborhood. And our neighbors invite these idiotic peasants to tramp around blasting the two or three leaves on their lawn with these howitzers. And leafblowing the naked pavement. This goes on day in and day out all week.

    I don't blame the landscapers. I blame my neighbors who hire them to carry out this criminal idiocy.


    People generally hate me. It’s true. It’s not that they know me, my secret inner darkness, or the shameful regrets of my past. It’s not that I’ve wronged them, insulted them, or injured them in any tangible way. It’s not that I’ve ever even met them. It’s my job. No, I’m not a parking meter attendant, a nightclub bouncer, or even a dentist. I’m currently employed in the one position that just may be more hated than all three combined: I’m a lawn-boy. Which means I spend the better (or worst) part of my day with a gas-guzzling cacophonous contraption strapped to my back and a wind cannon in my right hand like faux bazooka, or at least a giant kazoo.

    The truth about playing a kazoo can also be applied to what I do: it’s only fun – or even tolerable – to the one person playing it. I admit it: wearing something akin to a jet pack on my back and having the power of a personalized mini-hurricane in my hand is a good time. It’s not nearly as satisfying, however, as perpetuating migranes in the vacuous skulls of the suburban hordes I’ve been charged to serve. And I even get paid for it!

    Every morning, I meet up with a crew of dirt-poor immigrant labourers and drive out to the suburbs to mow, weed, and blow the lawns and gardens of more well-to-to immigrant professionals. As the token white guy on my team, I’m a bit of an anomaly, but that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from the purely classicist and slightly racists disdain that awaits us. We drive from one virtually identical condo complex to another, tending to the grounds and making sure that everything remains ‘picture perfect’ at these pre-packaged poorly constructed overpriced monstrosities. Our main function, however, seems to be to grant suburbanites the daily opportunity to vent some of their dystopian angst. The same people who pay ridiculous strata fees because they couldn’t be bothered to pull a weed jump at every opportunity they get to scowl, scold, and even scream at us while we try to accomplish what really amounts to servants’ duties.

    They hate us. Pure and simple. On sight, but supposedly on principle. The tools of our trade are “too loud”, “too messy”, and “bad of the environment”. This from those who spur the razing of potential grazing or agricultural land by buying up lot after lot to ‘flip’ crappy tinderbox ‘luxury estates’ for ‘profit’. This from those with three car garages, central air, and electric gadgets for every mundane task that might demand they lift a finger. This from those who accuse us of being a blight on the landscape, but don’t hesitate to make a complaint if here is a single leaf on their perfect, tiny little lawn.

    It makes you think. You feel like you have to, since nobody you encounter seems to have that faculty. I, personally, try not to. I try not to think about how much gas I’m using or how many emissions I’m spouting in a quest to maintain the superficial veneer of order over the truly beautifully ordered chaos of nature.

    One thing I find myself thinking of again and again, however, is a trip I took to Versailles when I was 15. Looking across those world-famous perfectly manicured and geometrically symmetrical gardens, what occurred to me at the time was “So it’s all YOUR fault!” Louis the 14th: the most arrogant, wasteful, and despicable ruler of an entire age, who’s twin legacies include the justification of achieving Democracy through bloody revolution and the perpetuation of synthetic-looking order imposed upon our flora and fauna; who spent the country’s wealth and resources on extravagance and opulence at the expense of the well-being of its people; and who made us all want to transplant pretty plantlife to places where it doesn’t belong – nor can it thrive – and force it to conform to our will. I wonder how many people remember that he was the true trend-setter. I also wonder how many remember that he lost his head for it.

    So in truth I hate what I do. Except when I’m strapped into my giant kazoo. To them, it’s an unnecessary annoyance and convenient excuse to administer abuse, but to me, it’s the weapon of their eventual undoing. It’s surprising how powerful these things really are. With just one of them, you can hit a brand new Hummer with a rock from about 100 feet away. You can blow blinding dust clouds into busy intersections where everyone is simultaneously exercising their ‘right of way’. You can press leaves and debris deep into the workings of any machinery you see. But most of all, you can push millions of seeds into the cracks and crevices of the very foundations of their constructed superficiality.

    It only takes but a few out of millions to take root. And to grow. And to exert it’s will – natural will – through the concrete and mortar, loosening the bricks, and eventually standing against the glass and steel constructs and contraptions they’ve fooled themselves into thinking the need to be happy. And all the while the roar of your machine is more than loud enough to drown out their petty complaints and misplaced hostility.

    They may hate me, but to be honest I couldn’t care less. I’m just performing a function. Doing my job. And my duty – taking the opportunity to fight back on behalf of all that we continue to destroy. They see an uneducated, underclass blower-boy. They have no inkling that what they’re screaming at is actually a dedicated instrument of nature’s ultimate revenge.

  5. Many owners of professional landscaping companies feel that leaf blowers are essential, time-saving tools that enable them to offer services at much lower costs than they would if they had to use rakes, brooms and water to clean up the landscape, I guess they have absolutetly NO problems at all with the EXTREMELY DEAFENING noise and toxic fumes!!! What could POSSIBLY be so soothing about leaf blower noise!!??? Even when it’s not happening anymore, It STAYS in your ears for quite a while!!!!

  6. Wasn't it Louis XVI, his great-great-grandson, who lost his head? The Sun King seems to have escaped justice.

  7. Thanks Liam Lux for a refreshing alternative opinion. I am glad to hear that leafblowers can also be instruments of subversion. I will never look at a leafblower in the same way again! I used to live in one of those condos and I even served on the condo council. One of our early presidents had the profound idea that people might want to save money by doing some of that labour themselves rather than hire companies to keep the place pretty. Alas, not true. A few were willing but quickly lost enthusiasm when they saw that they were the only ones. When we have masses of people willing to work for peanuts raking the leaves, and masses of people who no longer care how pretty a lawn looks, then maybe the leafblower will be a thing of the past. But until then there's no point railing against it, we create the circumstances that require their existence.

  8. Louis the 14th died in bed of decrepitude. Check your history. Shame. Somebody should have lost their head for Versailles! 🙂

    1. Yeah, you’re right. I didn’t check my facts (or my spelling, for that matter) ’til after I posted. Oops. Too bad, too – ‘cuz he shoulda, and ‘cuz it makes for a good line.

  9. mindweapon Avatar

    I use my leafblower to stoke my garden debris bonfire at the end of the year. Vegetable gardens thrive when you burn fires on them, adn the leafblower stokes a little flame into a major conflagration that quickly burns out all the fuel. It's great fun!

  10. Bud Malone Avatar

    An alternate is to go Semi-green, and use a rechargeable-battery powered blower, as I do. Part of a set of battery-powered hand tools. Quieter (though still plenty loud), clean exhaust, and because it uses a lot of amps, even with spare batteries, I can only run it for about half an hour. Works good on light snowfall that's too time-consuming to broom and too light to shovel.

  11. I just want to say I love this article.
    I will reproduce it in my facebook,
    in spanish, with the author's name and link
    to this page, of course.
    I am one of these tortured men for these
    leaf blowers 2 o 3 times a week.
    But I see we are many with same suffering,
    unify everyone against the leaf blowing menace.
    Thanks again

  12. Dr. Robert Simpson Avatar
    Dr. Robert Simpson

    Ban the scourge of the endless numbing whining drone of the cursed foul leafblower NATIONWIDE. They completely destroy work productivity; atmosphere; and what the hell is wrong with some damn leaves on the ground anyway? I don't give a rats ass. The noise goes on for hours and hours and hours. Melt them all down; how about some peace during the day?

  13. We need a mass protest. Everyone grab a water hose and spray those noise machines and operators with an ice cold jet of water.

  14. Leaf blowers will eventually come to an end. It's part of the greater scheme of things. On the demise of leaf blowers and other "centralizing" technologies, see my text "Death of rationalization (http://life-after-oil.blogspot.com/2010/01/death-of-rationalization.html)

  15. I'm Tom Suica, the General manager of http://www.treetiger.com a tree service in Norcross, GA.

    After reading this, I felt great sadness. However, I'm also relieved knowing I've been doing my best.

    I take comfort in knowing that I create as little pollution as possible. It's NOT practical to rake everything. Here's how it goes, the climber will climb then cut a limb down. It falls or is lowered with rope. Since the beginning of our company, we have been piling limbs in front of the chipper till there are too many to handle in the area. We then start the chipper and chip them. Ar far as the owner is concerned we do this to save gas. Between you and I, I started this it secretly green in mind. Although it's an inconvenience to start and stop the chipper the extra wear and tear on the starter and engaging clutch translates into less pollution. After the limbs are chipped the chipper is turned off.

    While the climber climbs there is down time, Not for us! I always have my workers pick up twigs and leaf bunches when possible. I always have the rakes out working throughout the job to minimize the time the blower runs.

    So many times I have missed out on money because of my love for trees. There are at least 4 or 5 instances per month where I suggest the customer does some pruning keeps the tree (when it's practical) rather than more expensive more profitable removal. As an ISA certified Arborist, I have the highest respect, love and moral ethical guidelines I follow the same way I love GOD.

    On all trees diameter less than 12 inches I make my workers axe fall the trees I have also purchased VERY EXPENSIVE very nice pruning hand saws the climber uses instead of starting the chainsaw. All limbs 2 inches or smaller are hand cut also I use a machete for limbing instead of chainsaw when its practical

    I have also purchased the most powerful, most technologically advanced commercial back pack blower the Stihl br600. It has new technology, more power which means the job gets done much faster instead of pooping around with our old small blower and killing a whole tank of gas the 600 might use 1/10th of the tank and the job is done. It also has a 4 mix engine which is crazy efficient. Another thing I use premium gas always it burns cleaner and makes more power. More power means faster blowing less run time. I always try to run my machines as little as possible.

    The revolutionary STIHL 4-MIX engine is the first mixture-lubricated 4-stroke engine from STIHL and combines the advantages of 2-stroke and 4-stroke engines in a single unit. Unlike conventional 4-stroke engines, which require separate systems for the fuel supply and engine lubrication, the new STIHL 4-MIX engine is fuelled with the new 4-MIX fuel mixture.

    Because the fuel burns with fewer residues, emissions from the STIHL 4-MIX engine are already more than 25 percent lower than the stringent ceiling imposed by EU regulations which came into force for small engines in 2007.

    Blowers are more efficient than ever.

    Also I used to have a stihl 044 which was a chainsaw from the 70's that thing was the most disgustingly powerful chainsaw I ever used. I then bought all new chainsaws. I never use the old ones any more. I only use new equipment because they are more regulated

    2 stroke regulations are more hardcore than ever AS IT SHOULD BE. I feel good knowing I use the newest, least polluting equip to get the job done
    for details of efficiency and emission charts you http://www.stihl.com/isapi/default.asp?contenturl

    People Blowers ARE evil but they are necessary evils

    We also sell firewood

    Again ideally you would cut the logs with a 2 man cross cut saw and hand split but practically its impossible to make a living without machine

    At least I feel a little better…

    When you purchase firewood from Tree Tiger Firewood you can be assured that it is harvested from environmentally sustainable sites.

    Our wood comes from:

    * Our tree business
    * Rural burn piles
    * Waste timber from natural events such as storms, bushfires, floods, etc.
    * From landfill sites
    * We NEVER use timber from old growth forests or timber harvested for the purpose of firewood

    I hope everyone is more comfortable knowing that there's at least 1 person out there that does their best

  16. Leaf blowers have been around for 40 years. That’s 40 years too long. I maintain that if you want to know if someone is an idiot, just ask if they use a leaf blower. If the ones who don’t use them don’t complain to their local government, they are also not too bright.

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