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Leaf blowers: leaf us alone!

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Leaf blowers: leaf us alone!

It’s fall - time of leaf blower torment for many who find the irksome noise makers a blight on the season. Move beyond your autumn angst with the power of guided imagery.

Fall is in the air, in the beautifully coloured trees—and soon on the ground. It’s a beautiful time of year—until our air and our ears are bombarded by noisy, fume spewing leaf blowers.

How we take care of all the leaves that fall from our trees in the autumn can indicate something about our commitment to the environment and to our neighbours’ health and peace of mind—as well as our own. The dreaded sound of autumn is such a scourge in some communities that bans have been urged.

So far unsuccessful in most Canadian communities, the folks in some US towns and cities have been able to shut the noise and the fumes out for good with outright bans. In many others, ordinances curtail their use to certain areas and during specific times only.

In Canada, the use of lawn blowers has not yet been banished outright (though bans were considered in Vancouver and Toronto). However, their use has been restricted in many communities. Some restrict to specific areas, while most others impose time constraints for their use. Most communities have noise level limits associated with lawn blowers as well.

Some community groups have even gone so far as to challenge gardening and landscaping associations to prove that leaf blowers are more efficient than hand raking and sweeping (their oft-cited claim against restrictions and bans). The community groups point to a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power study that reported a grandmother using a rake and broom took only 20 percent longer to clean a test plot than a gardener with a blower.

“In three tests involving gas powered leaf blowers and battery powered leaf blowers, she cleaned the areas using rakes or brooms faster than any of the battery powered blowers and almost as fast as the gas powered leaf blowers, and she did a better job in cleaning up the areas.”

Not only is raking faster and more environmentally friendly—and neighbourly—it’s also a better fitness opportunity. And it leaves the leaves where they can do some good—as compost—and not as a mess the neighbour across the street just blows back your way.

While the use of these irksome garden tools has sparked pitched turf battles in some neighbourhoods, we suggest a quieter approach to the problem. Get out the rake and broom and, meanwhile, use the power of guided imagery to leaf behind the burden of your autumn angst.

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