Etiquette Hell

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Title: Leaf blowing
Post by: Larrabee on November 12, 2011, 04:31:17 PM
This was inspired by a thread in one of the general folders.

I often hear or read about people in the US using leaf blowers to get rid of the dead leaves in their gardens.  Is this very common?  Is it something everybody is expected to do along the lines of mowing your lawn?  Is it considered un-neighbourly or uncouth if you just leave the leaves where they are?

I ask because I've never seen or heard of leaf blowers in the UK.  Some people will use a rake to clear dead leaves off their lawn if they care enough but lots just leave them be, I don't think its considered ugly or scruffy although maybe it is in some parts of the country!
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: oz diva on November 12, 2011, 04:37:06 PM
My husband wants a leaf blower but actually we have barely any leaves to blow. They are getting more popular here, but I prefer a rake, and I've raked plenty of leaves in my time. Leaf blowers are noisy.

My husband thought he was getting a leaf blower for his 40th birthday, boy was he wrong. I sent him diving with the sharks at the aquarium instead.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: BabylonSister on November 12, 2011, 06:05:16 PM
A lot of people have leaf blowers (and snow blowers around here too) but it's not at all uncommon to rake the leaves as well. I've always raked. It's not exhausting if you don't have a huge lawn.


I don't know if it would be considered un-neighborly not to take care of the leaves, maybe a little inconsiderate. Personally, I don't really care to have a manicured lawn but I know some neighbors in my previous middle-class neighborhood did. They acted a bit put out if there was a leaf on their lawn. Where I live now, I don't think they care as much but then again, I no longer  have a tree. The other reason why I gathered my leaves was to compost them.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: General Jinjur on November 12, 2011, 07:30:05 PM
Leaf blowers are very common here. I don't understand it, myself. It would make sense if we were talking about a big suburban lawn, but everyone here has a wee postage stamp that could be raked in five minutes flat. Seems like a huge waste of money to use a leafblower!
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Hillia on November 12, 2011, 07:36:28 PM
Reminds me of a joke by some comedian, about how the lawn guy at house A would blow the leaves to house B, who would blow them to house C, and on down to the last guy, who would blow them all back to house A again.  The point was to keep all the lawn guys employed :-)
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: camlan on November 12, 2011, 07:40:31 PM
Some leaves, if left on grass or bushes over the winter, will damage or kill whatever they are lying on. Also, in areas with lots of trees, they can blow into the street and block storm drains. In many places, people don't have fences in their yards, so leaves blow all over the place. You could have no trees on your property and still end up with a lawn completely covered in leaves.

It's a matter of how many trees are in the area, what kind they are, how many leaves they drop and how big your yard is.

My family's always gotten along with just hand raking, but a lot of people find the leaf blowers to be faster and easier. But they are very, very loud.

And then in some neighborhoods, especially those with homeowners' associations, there are regulations about the leaves.

OP, how many leaves are you talking about? In New England, it's not uncommon to see piles of leaves like this: http://www.olympiclawn.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/fall-is-leaf-raking-time.jpg (http://www.olympiclawn.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/fall-is-leaf-raking-time.jpg)
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 13, 2011, 06:36:24 AM
Also a function of how much snow you get, and how early.  Snow insulates the grass during the winter - if you live in an area that gets really cold, and you have a long dry spell (or a random short warm spell so the snow melts), lots of yards will have dead grass that spring.  Leaves under the snow makes clearing snow more of a pain and it doesn't insulate as well.

That said, a) we don't get much snow here, and b) I don't bother raking or blowing leaves, and we do have trees.  A few of my neighbors do, mostly the retired ones, but a lot don't.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: SiotehCat on November 13, 2011, 11:24:40 AM
I live in Northern Virginia in a rental townhome community. They use a lawn care company that comes in every couple of weeks to keep the property looking nice. They use leaf blowers.

My parents live in South Texas. They have a large yard, but they do not use a leaf blower. And in fact, I have never seen anyone in their neighborhood use a leaf blower. They just rake it up.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Shoo on November 13, 2011, 11:30:08 AM
Leaves on the ground can become leaves in the street, blocking storm drains and creating a horrible slipping hazard for cars and bikes.  That is one reason why it's important for homeowners to rake/blow their leaves into piles and bag them up for the compost or recycler.  It's not just aesthetics.  It's safety.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: camlan on November 13, 2011, 11:30:23 AM
I live in Northern Virginia in a rental townhome community. They use a lawn care company that comes in every couple of weeks to keep the property looking nice. They use leaf blowers.

My parents live in South Texas. They have a large yard, but they do not use a leaf blower. And in fact, I have never seen anyone in their neighborhood use a leaf blower. They just rake it up.

It makes sense to me that a professional company would use the leaf blowers. They get a lot of leaves in a short time, allowing the company to service more clients.

Homeowners can wander out whenever they want and rake for a bit, they don't have to get all the leaves at once. A lot of people enjoy raking, as it is a good opportunity to enjoy some brisk fall air, get some exercise and get a chore done, all at the same time.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Larrabee on November 13, 2011, 04:03:56 PM
Leaves on the ground can become leaves in the street, blocking storm drains and creating a horrible slipping hazard for cars and bikes.  That is one reason why it's important for homeowners to rake/blow their leaves into piles and bag them up for the compost or recycler.  It's not just aesthetics.  It's safety.


But, they don't here, and there aren't cars constantly skidding on wet leaves, although its a standing joke that the trains are always delayed due to 'leaves on the line'!

Maybe our drains are different, they don't get blocked by leaves that I'm aware of, even in very rural areas with lots of trees. 

We don't get lots of snow here as a rule, but the last three or four winters have been very severe with months of heavy snow which is unusual.  We don't tend to clear our gardens of snow either, just enough to get cars in and out and move around safely.  We use salt or grit on the roads generally.



ETA I went to visit my parents in the very leafy very green area they live in today, I kept an eye out to see what people had done with the leaves, most were just left where they were but a few lawns were cleared, maybe 1 in 20, these were the most formal looking gardens.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: dawbs on November 13, 2011, 04:43:16 PM

Maybe our drains are different, they don't get blocked by leaves that I'm aware of, even in very rural areas with lots of trees. 


Are you sure we're talking the same thing?
Because here very rural areas don't *have* storm drains.  (because they don't have curbs and gutters.  I don't.)
We're talking this:
http://www.munciesanitary.org/clientuploads/Leaves%20on%20storm%20drain.JPG
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Yarnie on November 13, 2011, 04:47:18 PM
In our area, we rake/dump/blow leaves into piles on the street. Then the city comes along and sucks them all up. 

Growing up in Colorado, we never raked leaves, but we mainly had pine trees.  Our aspens in the corner of the yard didn't pose a huge problem.  Here in IL, the leaves get REALLY deep, so you pretty much have to do something with them.    My husband mows them up.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Larrabee on November 13, 2011, 04:59:17 PM

Maybe our drains are different, they don't get blocked by leaves that I'm aware of, even in very rural areas with lots of trees. 


Are you sure we're talking the same thing?
Because here very rural areas don't *have* storm drains.  (because they don't have curbs and gutters.  I don't.)
We're talking this:
http://www.munciesanitary.org/clientuploads/Leaves%20on%20storm%20drain.JPG

Well, I'd call it a grid, and ours don't have the bit cut into the pavement, the water just drains down.

But yes that's the thing, every road has them pretty much, urban or rural except motorways and dirt tracks.

Here's a British one:
(http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4505895263_36a8a29126.jpg)

Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 13, 2011, 05:41:47 PM
I grew up with this kind

(http://davidsonnews.net/files/2011/01/011811StormDrain-300x188.jpg)

However, now that I live in the southern US, we get a TON of rain at a time down here.  Those dinky little drains wouldn't help with more than snow runoff, so they have this kind down here:

(http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/images/menuofbmps/invol_6.jpg)
(http://www.kanapipeline.com/images/storm-drain-structure.JPG)

They always creep me out a bit - the first one is plenty large enough to get a foot or a bike tire stuck in, and the second kind always makes me think of Stephen King's It.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2011, 06:40:42 PM
My husband loves his leaf blower. We have a huge yard and to rake would be painful.  The LB works great to get them out of nooks and crannies and on places raking doesn't work, like under our steps, benches and the front stoop.

I would equate having an LB to a snow blower. It makes an arduous task much easier. 
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: JoW on November 13, 2011, 09:41:08 PM
I don't understand leaf blowers, either.  Sure, they move leaves well.  But you still have to pick up the leaves and move them somewhere to dispose of them.

I have a large lot with lots of large maples.  The leaves have to be picked up, so I put the bagger on my lawnmower and vacuum them up.  The mower shreds them into mulch, which I dump under the trees and shrubs.  That makes more sense to me. 

(I don't know if mowers with baggers are use in other countries.  Mine looks a lot like this picture.
http://static.auctionservices.com/images/544663/JD_GX95_Mower_large.jpg )
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2011, 10:16:02 PM
Dh uses the bag for mowing up the leaves in fall too.  He gets great use from the leaf blower getting them out of rocky areas, under places that cannot be raked or mowed and to quickly clean up the patio or front steps. He also uses it around the rose bushes because they have thorns and raking is fruitless. 
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Spoder on November 13, 2011, 10:24:03 PM
I live in Western Australia, and most of our trees are non-deciduous. We never get snow or sleet and rarely get torrentially heavy rain, so blocked storm drains are not much of an issue.

So except for professional gardeners or councils servicing large gardens/parks, I think leaf blowers are unnecessary, loud annoyances. Lke when the dude over the road spends half an hour with his leaf-blower, blowing the leaves on his handkerchief of lawn into a neat pile, then goes inside and leaves them to blow everywhere in the wind.  ::)
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 13, 2011, 11:49:06 PM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 

Out Tucson house had a retaining wall in the back with trees above and a big slope between. Those trees shed leaves and flowers at times of the year that were impossible to rake because of the slope.  It got very sloppy looking at times and that is why dh bought the LB. It is a quick, inexpensive way to keep our yard and property looking neat.  Once he blew the leaves from the slope, he bagged them.  I agree it makes no sense t blow only to leave the pile to get blown away again.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Spoder on November 13, 2011, 11:58:52 PM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 


Actually, I guess that's true. I suppose leaf blowers just irk me more because they seem so unnecessary compared to lawnmowers (in most situations here, anyway - different to what you're talking about). Like the guy over the road (I know I'm harping on about this), but truly, he's about 20 and able-bodied, and the patch of grass is TINY. I don't get why he doesn't pick up a rake and save us all the aggravation.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2011, 12:15:20 AM
I'm surprised that so many view it as unnecessary. Lol. I agree, it sounds odd for him to use it, but guys like to have gadgets, I guess. Lol
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Ereine on November 14, 2011, 12:34:06 AM
Leaf blowers have become more common in Finland recently, though they're not very common and many people find them very annoying. Even if the sound isn't louder than a mowers, it sounds more unpleasant. The advice here is that it's actually better for the lawn to leave the leaves, as long as there aren't too much of them and just mow over them. I like the way autumn leaves look on grass so I can't really see how it can look ugly, even when they turn brown. At that time the lawn is pretty dead here anyway or covered with snow. Fallen leaves on pavement can be dangerous though, I managed to fall on my bike a few weeks ago because there were so many leaves that I couldn't see in the dark where the road ended and a strip of grass started and when I started skidding the leaves were so slippery that I went down, fortunately with no harm to me or the bike.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Spoder on November 14, 2011, 01:04:19 AM
I'm surprised that so many view it as unnecessary. Lol. I agree, it sounds odd for him to use it, but guys like to have gadgets, I guess. Lol

Sorry, I don't mean it's unnecessary to pick up the leaves, necessarily. Just that there is no feasible way to keep large lawns tidy besides a lawnmower, whereas the small amount of leaf litter most of us have here can easily be raked up.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: MariaE on November 14, 2011, 01:46:22 AM
Larrabee, sounds like Denmark is the same as the UK in this regard. I don't know of anybody who owns a leaf-blower. Some people may rake them, but most just leave them be.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Mal on November 14, 2011, 03:43:01 AM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 

I have to disagree. I work next to a park and the city's maintenance staff has leaf-blowers that are ungodly loud and often used every day, _all_ of spring and fall. Even with closed windows the sound is extremely grating and they really take their time.

I think leaf-blowers are a huge waste of energy. Trouble is, they are used around here above all so the staff using them can work faster and not claim exeedingly strenuous work - so the city can pay them minimum wage.

Not sure which I dislike more: leaf-blowers or the whole city employment system.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Irishkitty on November 14, 2011, 03:54:36 AM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 


Actually, I guess that's true. I suppose leaf blowers just irk me more because they seem so unnecessary compared to lawnmowers (in most situations here, anyway - different to what you're talking about).

I think they can be louder than lawnmowers, or perhaps it's just that I find the sound more irritating.
I've rarely seen a person wearing ear protectors when using a lawnmover, but they almost always do when using a leafblower.

I've seen a few around Ireland, so I was quite surprised that a UK ehellion has not. However, they're usually used around large parks/houses and actually, I've seen one being used at the American Embassy in Dublin :)

When I was visiting the US a few years ago, my hosts next door neighbour used his at 7 every.single.morning. And then at 7:30 his daughter would practice her piano, which wasn't quite as irritating, but when you only got to bed at 1am... ugh.

I suppose they're handier than a rake for gathering them together, but as PP pointed out, you usually still have to pick them up at the end.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: camlan on November 14, 2011, 06:29:06 AM
My town regulates the decibel level of leaf blowers--you have to be able to prove that it's below a certain level.

The lawns here are small, tiny even. Yet it can take someone an hour to mow the lawn, followed by half an hour of a weed wacker to trim the edges, followed by 20-30 minutes of a leaf blower to blow all the grass cuttings into a pile. That's over an hour of really loud noise for a lawn that is at best 30 feet by 40 feet. You could probably mow the entire thing in 45 minutes with a human-powered reel mower (like this: http://www.reelmowers.org/) (http://www.reelmowers.org/)), and if you added the bag to catch the clippings, you'd be done much faster.

The thing about leaf blowers is that there's a time and a place for them. Huge yard, tons of trees? A leaf blower makes sense. Small yard that can be completely raked in 15 minutes? Not so much. Using it daily to blow a few leaves or twigs off your driveway? Not really necessary. And I know a lot of people who use theirs daily just to move a few leaves from their drive or walkway to the grass.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Ezeesee on November 14, 2011, 07:16:28 AM
I'm in the UK, and was going to post that I agreed that Larrabee that I'd never seen a leaf-blower here (never heard of them before E-hell in fact), but what do I see not even 2 hours ago?

A man leaf-blowing his front garden! Actually, it had a bag attached, so it was kind of a leaf-sucker (like a hoover). This seems to make more sense that just the blowing kind, are they not common in the US?
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2011, 11:04:54 AM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 

I have to disagree. I work next to a park and the city's maintenance staff has leaf-blowers that are ungodly loud and often used every day, _all_ of spring and fall. Even with closed windows the sound is extremely grating and they really take their time.

I think leaf-blowers are a huge waste of energy. Trouble is, they are used around here above all so the staff using them can work faster and not claim exeedingly strenuous work - so the city can pay them minimum wage.

Not sure which I dislike more: leaf-blowers or the whole city employment system.

Oh, I guess I can see an institutional size LB being loud, but a household size?  Nowhere close to a lawn mower or even a weed whacker. 
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 14, 2011, 11:06:56 AM
I'm in the UK, and was going to post that I agreed that Larrabee that I'd never seen a leaf-blower here (never heard of them before E-hell in fact), but what do I see not even 2 hours ago?

A man leaf-blowing his front garden! Actually, it had a bag attached, so it was kind of a leaf-sucker (like a hoover). This seems to make more sense that just the blowing kind, are they not common in the US?

I haven't seen the type you describe.  I guess that would be a leaf sucker? 
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Judah on November 14, 2011, 04:26:00 PM
I just counted 19 deciduous trees in on our property.  No way am I going to give up my leaf blower to rake all those leaves.  A build up of leaves will clog the storm drains causing the house to flood, the lawns to die, and giving mosquitoes a nice place to live and reproduce.  The truth is, it takes one person with a rake and another with a leaf blower several hours every Saturday for about 10 weeks to keep the leaves from overwhelming us, so we pay someone else to do the work.  But when we did it ourselves, we used a blower that both blew and sucked.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: Spoder on November 14, 2011, 06:14:18 PM
A leaf blower is not even half as loud as a mower. 

I have to disagree. I work next to a park and the city's maintenance staff has leaf-blowers that are ungodly loud and often used every day, _all_ of spring and fall. Even with closed windows the sound is extremely grating and they really take their time.

I think leaf-blowers are a huge waste of energy. Trouble is, they are used around here above all so the staff using them can work faster and not claim exeedingly strenuous work - so the city can pay them minimum wage.

Not sure which I dislike more: leaf-blowers or the whole city employment system.

Oh, I guess I can see an institutional size LB being loud, but a household size?  Nowhere close to a lawn mower or even a weed whacker.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I honestly think the jury's out on that one. I did a bit of googling, out of interest, and except for some small models that use the latest technology, it seems domestic leaf-blowers are as loud, or louder, than lawnmowers.

I was surprised too, but here's just one example:

http://www.nonoise.org/library/household/index.htm
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on November 15, 2011, 12:48:40 AM
Well, I can say with all certainty our LB is nowhere near as loud as our lawn mower.  Not even close.  I do'nt know how recent it is.. we've had it about 5 years, so certainly not an old or new tech.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: kherbert05 on December 28, 2011, 12:10:08 AM
My lawn guys use a blower not so much for leaves as to get any cutting that go in the cutter. Allowing yard waste to go down the storm sewers can get you a fine I believe. Houston was built on swamp and bayou land. Street flooding can be a problem in a regular thunderstorm if the storm sewers are blocked.


Hurricane season is even more of a danger.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: jaxsue on January 23, 2012, 01:18:58 PM
Leaf blowers are very common here. I don't understand it, myself. It would make sense if we were talking about a big suburban lawn, but everyone here has a wee postage stamp that could be raked in five minutes flat. Seems like a huge waste of money to use a leafblower!

My neighborhood (NJ) is pretty much postage-stamp-sized yards, yet people use leaf blowers a lot. In fact, my a-retentive neighbor will get his out to blow one leaf off his lawn! I am not exaggerating.

When I grew up we used rakes (it was us kids' jobs). A leaf-blower was not even considered. I don't like them due to the noise pollution and real pollution. They're very high on the "pollution" scale.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: sparksals on January 23, 2012, 01:20:54 PM
My dh wondered out loud the other day when we were jealous how our neighbour has no snow remnants after shoveling or plowing snow.  He wondered if he cheats and uses a leaf blower instead to move the light dusting of snow so it doesn't grate into the driveway. 

Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: WhiteTigerCub on January 23, 2012, 01:36:15 PM
I have a desert landscaped front yard with rocks, flower bushes, rocks, cactus, rocks and more rocks. Occasionally it is necessary to clean up the unsightly dead leaves and flower petals that blow in. Because it's very difficult to rake rocks, my landscaper uses a leaf blower to get my yard all tidy looking. He does my front porch too. Quick and easy clean up for him.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: EMuir on January 23, 2012, 01:45:48 PM
We mow our leaves and then put them on our compost pile.  I've seen people here use leaf blowers after a very light snowfall to clear their walks too.
Title: Re: Leaf blowing
Post by: magicdomino on January 23, 2012, 02:20:05 PM
I'm in the UK, and was going to post that I agreed that Larrabee that I'd never seen a leaf-blower here (never heard of them before E-hell in fact), but what do I see not even 2 hours ago?

A man leaf-blowing his front garden! Actually, it had a bag attached, so it was kind of a leaf-sucker (like a hoover). This seems to make more sense that just the blowing kind, are they not common in the US?

I haven't seen the type you describe.  I guess that would be a leaf sucker?

Some models of leaf blowers, like mine, have an attachment that turns it into a vacuum/mulcher. In fact, I bought my leaf blower for that attachement:  I would rake the leaves into a pile by hand, then use the mulcher attachment.   Now my lawn mower has a bagging attachment, so I use that to suck up the leaves.  Leaves are then dumped in various flower and veggie beds because these are my leaves, nobody else can have them.   :)