Leave the Leaves Alone

The leaves have started to fall in my part of the country. That means, unfortunate and inexorable, the leaf blowers have been released from their storage sheds. Just the other day the old man next door was using a gas-powered leaf blower to blast fallen leaves from his driveway. (There were only a few, but I guess even a few were too many.) He shut off the noisy contraption long enough to ask, "Isn't this the strangest weather we've been having?" True enough. October in south-central Indiana has felt more like late July, but, before I could agree, he added, "I tell you what. It's that global warming. It's people causing all this. You got 10 percent of them who recycle and all that, and the other 90 percent don't do nothin'. . ." He shook his head sadly, bade me well, and switched the leaf blower back on.

I didn't bother to try to point out the irony of the situation. After all, I would hardly be heard over the noise, and, besides, people like my neighbor -- and, hey, even my dad! -- really do love their leaf blowers. According to a piece in the Washington Post, last year alone leaf blower manufacturers shipped almost three million gas-powered blowers and over three million of their electric-powered counterparts. It sounds far-fetched, but some of the gas-powered models blow up to 200 miles per hour -- and can create as much pollution in a year as 80 cars. At least that's what one U.S. News & World Report article claims.

Greener alternatives to those powerful machines do exist -- say, a broom and the humble rake -- but they aren't as he-manly, and they take a bit more elbow grease to operate. Raking happens to be great exercise. And, since leaves are full of trace elements the soil needs like calcium and magnesium, the collected yard debris can be composted in bins or shredded and scattered in the garden beds for next year. Nevertheless, I choose to leave my leaves right where they land. After all, they're pretty, and I've grown to like their sweet scent of decay. Now if only my neighbors could, too.


I have an electric leaf blower that also turns into a leaf sucker ;) Thats how I've traditionally used it. Suck up the leaves and (it grinds them up) into a bag that I then empty on to either my garden or my compost pile.

I absolutely detest the use of leaf blowers. I do realize in some situations they are necessary...the noise pollution, the gas emissions, the allergens that get stirred up into the air...ah the list goes on. I've always wanted to start a website called ""....I encourage those who use them to use them less and try a good ole-fashioned rake.