Whatever Happened to...Raking Leaves Instead of Blowing Them?

I curse Dom Quinto. Who the heck is that, you ask?

He's the dolt who invented the leaf blower. 

I just spent the last hour listening to an obnoxious neighbor power one of these equally obnoxious contraptions. A solid hour! I'd rather have listened to a dentist's drill or the failed auditions from every season of American Idol. I seriously wanted to march over his property line, wrench that thing from his hands and blow it where the sun doesn't shine. 

To be fair, suburban America's obsession with these noise polluters cannot be entirely blamed on Quinto. His original blower wasn't designed for consumer usage or for displacing leaves, but for agricultural chemical spraying in the 1950s (although I suppose we should pummel him for making it easier to spread cancer-causing pesticides on our produce.) Manufacturers soon discovered that consumers were removing the parts from the blower meant to hold and distribute chemicals, instead relying on the high wind speeds they produced to blow leaves and debris from their property. Genius. 

By the 1990s, over 800,000 leaf blowers a year were being sold in the United States. 

And now, they're everywhere. I hate these things with a passion! I can see using one for a few minutes to clear a driveway (like my mother often does) or another quick, minor clean-up job. But the problem is they seem to have replaced raking, which is what my neighbor was using his for this afternoon. When there's a landscaper crew nearby, forget about it. That's all you'll be hearing for the next 2-3 hours, never mind one. Way to go, ruining a beautiful day in the neighborhood. 

Modern society is SO lazy today it's pathetic. Why rake leaves when you can blow them away? Better yet, why mow or maintain your own lawn yourself when you can pay a landscaper crew to do it for you? (I'm not talking about homeowners with large properties and yards, where landscaping is justified, but houses that sit on a half acre of land, if even that.)

I'm not just blowing hot air here (ha.) Leaf blowers are not exactly the best thing for the environment and your well-being. For starters, the gasoline powered blowers emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. More of concern to me is their mind-numbing noise level, whether they run on gas or electricity. They are so loud they can cause hearing damage to the operator and anyone within close range after extended usage without earplugs. Many cities in California have wisely banned or restricted their use. Also, they are not exactly lightweight--I've helped my mother blow leaves off her driveway, and was surprised at how heavy it felt as I strapped it off my shoulder. I much prefer taking a custodial style broom and pushing the leaves off. In my opinion, it doesn't take much more time to get the job done and it's exercise! 

Call me crazy, but I'd rather rake at any time and burn some calories while working my shoulder and back muscles. There's also something kind of therapeutic and soothing about raking leaves on a beautiful autumn day that I suppose is lost on too many people. 

Kudos to California...if only the rest of the country would consider following their lead. Nothing would make me happier than seeing the leaf blower die a quick death. 


  1. This is interesting, I've heard of these contraptions but I don't think I've ever HEARD one--I wonder why? I live in a neighborhood with lots of yards (and trees)... well Pam, I have a real problem with noisy neighbors too, so I DO feel your pain--I guess that's one good thing about winter coming, at least!

  2. I have one but it's electric so nowhere near as noisy. I use it for clearing my driveway and walkway. I still rake the yard.

  3. I agree. I agree. Gas powered leaf blowers are a noisy menace and they pollute the air. The other night on the news I heard running one of those pollutes in an hour as much as a pickup truck driven for 4000 miles. I'd much rather rake than use a blower.

    1. yes, a gas leaf blower always makes so noisy. And it makes my neighbor so angry. I rather like a rake or broom than a gas leaf blower to clean the garden. Hihi

  4. Hey, they inspired a song (As this is from a broadcast, they toned down some justifiable profanity):

  5. I agree about the gas powered blowers and loathe and love mine now that I live on a rural acreage. I have 3 acres of front lawn and hundreds of feet of driveway to keep clear. I did however pay more to buy one that had the lowest db level and least pollution possible. Saves me days of back breaking work now that I'm older and gimpier. :)

  6. In general, anything man-powered rather than machine powered is definitely respectable. That's why I prefer biking to work instead of driving. If I had a small city yard, or I guess any size yard with few trees, I'd agree with your take on blowers wholeheartedly. But I have five acres with several huge, healthy, deciduous trees, and without a blower, I'd need a team of rakers.

  7. I miss the burning leaves of autumn. My grandparents lived in a small town and when we would visit them in the fall my grandfather would pie the leaves and burn them. The smell what beautiful. We would stand there and manage the smoking pile, then at the end I got to use the hose on the remaining ashes.

    Sorry, I am going Ray Bradbury on you. Good post.

  8. Use a gas leaf blower is to noise. I like to collect the leaves into a huge burn


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