Ministry Of Controversy

Anti-Leaf-Blowers get Blowback

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Continuing our seasonal leaf theme here on Gardenstatephotography, it’s time for some anti-leaf-blower ranting! Actually we’ve done that, so how about some rants against anti-leaf-blowers, coz those ranters know how to have fun.

But we start with the anti-leaf-blower, in this case a famous one – James Fallows, journalist and speechwriter for President Carter. He’s been blogging about it for Atlantic magazine using headlines like “History’s Greatest Monster” and “What the Devil Does in His Spare Time.”

Fallows isn’t just blogging about it, either. He’s leading the charge and testifying before local government in his Washington, D.C. neighborhood, winning an 8-1 vote to call on the city to do something about the hated machines. The case against leaf-blowers is made clear on this community website, so I’ll just send you there for this important information.  

Now for some blowback from commenters – to this story on DCist. The first one quotes a blower-opponent seeking the quiet for “exploration of the silence within” and illustrates that point with a choice graphic.

Another was inspired to suggest that people like Fallows “Go blow yourself,” illustrated with this beloved scene from “Arrested Development.”

One commenter compared the issue to worrying about kangaroo farts, which apparently are an actual issue.

But what pissed off the most commenters was this detail from the story: that “the lack of enforcement leads to lifestyle changes” and writer Deb Fallows (wife of James) saying “I used to do a lot of work at home and I don’t do that anymore.”

Which is all it takes to set off a class war. A commenter using the name “Nancy Pelosi” wrote: 

This demographic of resident who complain of leaf blower noise are the folks who, for no explainable reason, don’t work or “work from home.” These people are a bunch of trust fund babies living off the hard work of a dead relative who’ve never had to work a day in their life.If you don’t want to hear leaf blowers, get a job…or a hobby.

Of course noise and pollution don’t just affect the rich, and one commenter makes a great point: “Anyway, if the legal limit is being exceeded then the leaf blowers need to go. Doesn’t really make a difference if it’s a rich neighborhood or poor neighborhood.”

I’m signing off now from my decidedly middle class suburb, where gardeners are regularly driven indoors from the garden by the high-pitched whine and gas fumes of leaf-blowers. I guess that means the machines affect our lifestyle, whatever that pejorative term might mean in this case.

Posted by

Susan Harris
on November 20, 2015 at 8:50 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy, What’s Happening.


  1. There are “some” uses for them, sure. We have to look to the home, or property, owner demands. They are the ones that typically demand the need for a leaf blower. Cost, efficiency, etc….
    Now the contractors – or mostly lawn and landscape services, have to take much responsibility here.
    Remember, in the end it is mostly about the $$$$. PERIOD. By convincing people that leaves are “messy and bad”…. contractors can get more $ for “cleanups” in the fall. Also, we in the US of A are soooo accustomed to a sterilized, sanitized, fertilized, synthesized, hybridized and homogenized landscape that a fall “cleanup” seems to be the perfect storm.
    There is a near equal responsibility of the industry and the property owner to make some changes and adjust their expectations. Mostly, it is the industry. STOP trying to make an extra $350 for some useless fall cleanup and focus your efforts on soil amendments, plant health (if you know plants) testing, managing, etc….
    I understand that if someone has an investment in a large expanse of Kentucky Bluegrass lawn, etc… that they need to remove most of the Maple and Sycamore…. leaves; sure. But we go to far and we completely sanitize and sterilize these properties to where they are infertile and will perpetuate health issues.
    Change takes re-education = risk = $$/investing…. Meaning; most will not do it. There is far too much $$$ in the mow, blow, plow… as usual. There are many professionals out there that understand doing it the right way and why. There are far more that do not care and give the rest a bad rep.

  2. So late to comment it doesn’t matter, but FWIW: “World’s most pointless invention”? Sure, if you’re a super-privileged white guy who’s never had to clean yards in order to put food on your family’s table. “What the Devil Does in His Spare Time”? Way to trivialize — and hey, demonize! — the workers who depend on leaf-blowers to make a living. This just in: it’s a lot faster than raking. When you’re paid peanuts to begin with, every minute counts.

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