Industry specialist warns leaf blower bans are coming if changes are not made

Photo: Ed Dunens/FlickrPhoto: Ed Dunens/Flickr

Do you blow dirt into the street or on neighboring properties?  Do you blow sand and debris on to automobiles? Are you idling down the blower and pointing it away when someone walks by?  Have you ever started using your blower before 8:00 a.m. or run it past 5:00 p.m.?  Do you use it on Sundays or holidays? How about running more than one blower at a time in a residential area?

Okay, maybe you don’t do any of these things, but if you have even one noisy leaf blower on the job, all leaf blowers are reviled and therein lies the main reason for people wanting to ban them.

You probably have one or two quiet leaf blowers in your inventory, but the question is, do you use them exclusively where sound can become an issue?

City councils all over the country are taking steps to control the use of gasoline-powered leaf blowers because some of them are noisy and they are often misused.  Over 170 cities have already adopted some kind of regulation to control leaf blowers.

I do what I can to prevent bans by personally contacting every community faced with this issue, but I need your help.

What I do is provide lawmakers with facts about blowers that they should have before deciding the fate of the leaf blower.  If banning is the direction the cities are going, and it usually is, I try to convince them to allow the use of quiet blowers.  This will solve their noise problem and allow landscape contractors to retain the use of this invaluable power tool.

But, I am not a true stakeholder because I don’t live or work in the cities where the issue exists, so I can only do so much.  If you are a stakeholder and are faced with a blower ban, know that your labor cost for doing cleanup work will increase by a factor of eight. That’s because a leaf blower is eight times faster than a broom.

Twenty years ago, my engineering department developed the first “quiet” commercial leaf blower.  Since then, most major manufacturers have done the same, spending millions of dollars providing you with this viable alternative.

The industry has created quiet leaf blowers in many different sizes and configurations.  So, these factors should no longer be of concern.  Still, there are people that want them banned.  I can’t impact the things they complain about now, only you can do that.

Photo: Larry WillPhoto: Larry Will

It’s in your best interest to take this noise problem seriously.  You can easily determine which blowers are quiet by looking for the sound label on the unit.  The quiet ones will say 65 dB(A).

The leaf blower controversy is very complex.  Many things are wrongly cited as reasons for them to be banned, which you can read about in detail at my website.

But, the way you can preemptively impact the leaf blower issue now is by using quiet blowers exclusively.  Don’t forget to use them responsibly and most importantly, don’t wait until there is talk of legislation in your community before acting.  By then it will be too late.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was written by Larry Will, a leaf blower information specialist and retired vice president of engineering at ECHO Inc. To learn more about the author, click here.

The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover