Leaf Blowers: Useful gardening tool or public menace

Robyn Highsmith, Guest Columnist

It is a Tuesday. You decide to finish your breakfast and take your loving four-legged friend for a stroll down the street. As you admire the beautiful blue pigmentation of the sky, tiny bluebirds sing their song.

Spring has officially sprung. You feel at peace.

Suddenly, your ears perk up to the sound of a dull roar. At first it is quiet, then, as it grows louder and louder, it dulls your senses and bombards your eardrums. You begin to question your sanity. Then, all at once, a symphony of the same buzzing noise pierces the soundwaves from every angle at an alarming rate. With an overwhelming sensation of profound annoyance, you succumb to the sound, ending your peaceful pondering, prolonging your days’ tasks until the audacious audio ceases.

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m talking about leaf blowers, people — the one and only menace to the beautiful imperfection that is nature’s grand design. Not only is their very existence unnecessary — rakes are a marvelous invention that still exist today, contrary to popular belief — but their incredibly disruptive myriad of mechanical blasts continue to dwindle the air quality, and the overall health of citizens young and old. Exhaust from gas-powered leaf blowers contains hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides, components of smog, carbon monoxide, and even particulate matter, all of which are known to be harmful to people’s health. 

I would also argue that the fragility of one’s eardrums is equally at risk as the cacophony of noise rivals that of a stadium filled with screaming fans.

“I love trees, I just don’t love the leaves.”

The symbiotic relationship between these thunderous wooded giants and the tiny critters that live beneath them is also at risk. For example, when oak trees begin to shed their leaves, they also drop tiny acorns along the ground. These acorns are then harvested and collected by squirrels, who end up storing and scattering them along the forest floor. As these acorns drop, the tree can actually take note of the number of acorns that were picked up and carried off, as to almost subconsciously remember how many acorns it should produce in the coming seasons.

Not only do squirrels store this food for themselves and their families, these little bushy-tailed friends have systematically assisted oak tree growth for generations upon generations. Leaf blowers, however, wield the power to destroy the alliance between oak and squirrel, unraveling the quilt that nature has so delicately sewn.

The reality is this: laziness has always found a way to poke its little head throughout the confines of human invention, thus extrapolating new ways for the masses to find a quick fix to their issues.

Many people enjoy these wondrous trees in their yards but, unfortunately, they absolutely detest the thought (and, more importantly, the LOOK of) their fallen clippings settled upon the ground. I, however, would like to know why humanity has declared an informal war on leaves. Have the mighty trimmings of spruce and pine really driven us to madness? Does their placement in our driveway truly impede our day-to-day life, threatening our very existence?

To plant a tree only to dislike the leaves that fall from it, is almost equal to having a child, only to scorn the very nature of their being. You wouldn’t punish your little one for breathing, or shedding their own hair, so why would you punish a tree for performing its duty, naturally shedding the decay from its being so that it may breed new life?

Nature is not a cluttered mess, it is an intricate web of cause and effect, ever changing yet surprisingly the same. It should not be blown away into the gutter, it should be celebrated. 

“I love trees, I just don’t love the leaves.”