Skip to content

Ban leaf blowers?!

  • by JW

“They spew out toxic fumes, ruin neighbourhood peace, harm wildlife and cause noise pollution. It’s time we got rid.” [Simon Kelner, i-news]


It’s been widely reported that the TV horticulturalist Alan Titchmarsh is asking people to stop using their noisy machinery on Sundays [Daily Mail] – asking for ‘Silent Sundays’ and whether we should swap our lawnmowers, leaf blowers and power tools for peace? [Guardian]. He has just been interviewed in his own garden on modern life, including creating social media storms [Telegraph]:

It’s come to something when the patron saint of a well-mown lawn has become anxious of saying something that might offend. Yet even Titchmarsh – the avuncular everyman of comfort television – can often find himself in hot water. Last month he caused a minor social media storm for daring to suggest people shouldn’t use leaf-blowers on Sunday mornings. “I know! I was only arguing for a bit of peace and quiet. Everyone is so cross these days.” 

Simon Kelner would go even further, urging us to ban leaf blowers, the 21st century’s worst device [i-news]:

They spew out toxic fumes, ruin neighbourhood peace, harm wildlife and cause noise pollution. It’s time we got rid… I might once have thought that I’d never be in accord with the nation’s favourite gardener, a 74-year-old totem of good manners and conservative thinking, but here I am, finding myself nodding furiously to Mr Titchmarsh’s latest rant. Well, it’s not exactly a rant, more of a polite expression of disapproval, but his recent entreaty against noise pollution from power tools in gardens is one with which I wholeheartedly agree.

I’d go much further and be more specific. I think petrol-assisted leaf blowers are a curse on modern society, and I’d like to see them banned. Forbidden at all times, like smoking in a pubic building. Banished from gardens forever.

The leaf blower was invented in California in the late 50s, but it’s only in the past 25 years or so that their use has grown exponentially in the UK. Somewhat aptly, a recent law passed in California, banning them from 2024 on environmental grounds. They are already illegal in other US states, and in Washington DC you risk a fine of $500 (£411) if you’re caught using one.

Why are we not more exercised? Here is a piece of everyday garden equipment which spews out toxic fumes, ruins neighbourhood peace and harmony, is responsible for serious noise pollution (some leaf blowers emit up to 100 decibels, the same as an Underground train) and is injurious to wildlife, particularly nesting birds. And yet we seem perfectly happy to live with them. The sainted Alan Titchmarsh tiptoed carefully into this controversy. I think we should be more vociferous. Get organised. Petition your local council. Write to this newspaper. Complain to your MP. Let’s get these abominable leaf blowers banned.