October 7, 2020

Noting That Raking Leaves is a Viable Alternative to Leaf Blowers

To the Editor:

David Saul makes many excellent points in his letter (“Residents Should Consider Quieter, Less Polluting Battery or Electric Leaf Blowers,” September 30). 

Two additional points:

1) Recent developments in battery-operated lawn maintenance equipment provide leaf blowers that are in fact capable of handling large properties. Many municipalities have switched to battery-operated equipment for their parks. Harvard University no longer uses gas-powered equipment for its large campus. So owners of large commercial properties will find that commercial-sized battery-operated lawn maintenance equipment is available to meet their needs. 

2) One does not need to use leaf blowers at all, even in the fall. Raking leaves is a viable alternative. After all, before the invention of leaf blowers, all leaf work was done with rakes. Raking can be done as fast as leaf-blowing, or even faster. In a letter to Town Topics a few years ago (November 15, 2016), a Princeton resident told of a race between his raking and three men with leaf blowers:

“One afternoon, I walked into my front yard with a rake in my hands at the same moment that, coincidentally, a crew of three yardmen drove up to the neighbor’s house across the street, armed with leaf blowers and a riding mower. It was a true Paul Bunyan moment, but even more extreme as it was three on one! The lawnmower and two leaf blowers attacked the neighbor’s yard as I dug in with my rake. The lawnmower kicked up tremendous dust in addition to the 100+ decibels of noise that all three machines contributed to the otherwise quiet air around us. When the mower was done, that operator started up the third leaf blower and began his work. They finished the yard, put away their equipment, got into the truck and pulled away from the curb … just as I raked the last rake-full of leaves onto the curb. One silent man vs. three internal combustion machines — a dead tie. But I still think I won the contest.”

Phyllis Teitelbaum
Hawthorne Avenue