Brian Edwards Media

Leaf Blower Hell

[Warning! Violence and Obscene Language!]

Judy and I were taking our regular constitutional around Herne Bay last Saturday when our ears were assaulted by what had to be a fleet of  SAS attack helicopters landing on the normally tranquil Marine Parade. There could be no other explanation for the impenetrable wall of sound that threatened to  knock us off our feet. 

‘Maybe we should go back,’ I said.

‘No,’ said Judy, ever the brave one, ‘This could be serious. There could be casualties.’

So we turned the corner. And there they were – not SAS attack helicopters but something much, much worse: three Auckland City Council workers brandishing leaf blowers, marshalling the russet autumn leaves fallen from liquid amber and magnolia into monstrous piles to be collected by a brace of electric sweeping carts idling further up the street.

A bullet to the brain is too humane a punishment for the vandal who invented the leaf blower. He deserves to be hung, drawn, quartered, then reassembled so that the whole process can start again.  And again and again and again.  When he finally expires, his head should be impaled atop the Sky Tower, church bells rung joyously across the land and his bloody confession nailed to the door of every Mitre 10, every Placemakers, every Bunnings Warehouse, every garden centre and hardware store in Aotearoa. They have polluted the air with noise. They have disturbed the peace.  They have profited from the sufferings of their fellow man.

‘And woman!’ [Judy]

Now here’s the thing about leaf blowers:

Of all the so-called ‘labour-saving’ devices, other perhaps than the chainsaw, the leaf blower is the loudest, most annoying  and most brain-frazzling.

Of all the labour saving devices, other perhaps than the battery operated revolving ice-cream cone – yes, they do exist –  the leaf blower is the most unnecessary. Autumn leaves not merely make our paths and verges look more beautiful, they are genetically programmed to resist permanent transfer from one place to another. 

Of all the labour saving devices, other perhaps than the high voltage fly zapper, shaped like a tennis racket – yes again – the leaf blower is the least efficient. The humble garden rake does the job better, faster and more cheaply.

Of all the labour saving devices, including the water blaster, the leaf blower has become the must-have, can’t-do-without boys toy cum status symbol cum penis extension of the 21st century. Every bugger has one.

And that is the nub of the problem. You see, if everyone used their leaf blower – and their weed-eater and their hedge-trimmer and their lawnmower and their chainsaw –   at the same time on the same day each week, say Saturday afternoon between three and five, there might well be a danger of the earth moving a degree or two on its axis, but at least it would be quiet for the rest of the week. And either global warming would be halted or the weather would be nicer.  

When I suggested this at a party recently, a guy told me that one of the Scandinavian countries – Denmark or Finland or some such place – already has a law along these lines.

So why not here? Because every time someone tries to do something beneficial to the environment or likely to improve the quality of our lives, the great unwashed start screaming ‘nanny state’ and demanding their Godzone given right to do whatever the f*** they like,  whenever the f*** they like, wherever the f*** they like.

Most of these cretins are men and most of them are more in love with their noisy power-driven ‘labour saving devices’ than they are with their wives or children. The leaf blower is to the Kiwi bloke the equivalent of the gun to the good ol’ boy in the US of A. Don’t you try an’  take it off me now, you hear!

We’ve got a few in our street. I’m convinced they’ve got a roster to ensure that there’s always one leaf blower in operation during daylight hours and occasionally after dark. And if they can’t be there themselves they’ve got an army of gardeners who wouldn’t recognise a rake if they stood on it and the handle flew up and hit them in the face. (Cherish the thought!)

I’ve got to stop now. A neighbour’s alarm has just gone off, Telecom are using a concrete cutter to dig a post hole across the road, the Green Acres guy has started up his petrol-driven hedge-trimmer next door and Max is yelling because he wants to show me the live rat he just dragged through the cat door.

You know the trouble with the ‘nanny state’? It never went far enough.

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  1. I take it you don’t drown all the noise out with an ipod then…

    • I don’t. I want the noise to go away, not to drown it out with other noise. And there’s something else: I recently had a hearing test which revealed that, at 71, I have near perfect hearing. I’d like to keep it that way. Though I’m not entirely consistent. I’m a TV addict and there’s nothing more infuriating than the compressed sound of the commercials.

  2. I hear your pain!

    If you haven’t seen Alan Davies “Urban Trauma” suspect you will like it. It’s old now, so appears in the bargain bins.

    Try this YouTube extract on Cats and their prey…

    • Thanks Robin. Being on the staff of two Burmese cats, I loved the Alan Davies clip. Judy and I went to see him in Auckland some years ago. His standup is great. Sadly not Jonathan Creek. Death to leaf blowers!

  3. Noise, Brian, is the chief product and authenticating sign of civilisation. You’d appreciate this if you lived next to me! I’ve got a 4.3 litre German-built (original factory model from Schaffenhausen, not the type assembeld under licence in Brazil) Series Five Leiffhartenblaster–mit kompressor! It’s the early Series Five, not the end-of-the line model with the supplementary underblower. They are too heavy after 40-50 minutes non-stop use, and don’t burn through enough electricity. This little puppy will just BLOW (or suck) the doors of the out-house next door. Nice pearlesecent silver-grey colour, with the optional yellow swing handles. Expensive? Yes, but they don’t depreciate as much as the Korean rubbish. The other really cool thing I have which I know you’ll want to know all about is my automatic compressed-air bird-scaring gun, with the auto-timer so it can go off randomly over any 24-hour period. I’ll tell you about that next time.

    • Comes the revolution, Bill – and, believe me, it is coming – people like you will be first to the wall without a blindfold. But not before months of torture during which you will be forced to sit beside a babbling brook in a remote and barely populated part of the English countryside where nothing breaks the silence but the water running over the stones and the gentle twittering of nightingales. Still, you’re probably half deaf already so you won’t hear even that. The irony of your ultimate fate – total silence!

  4. What would an extra-terrestrial conclude from a leaf blower?

    * A species with a techno-civilization with access to precision steel and a range of precision engineering.
    * This technology applied to a device to blow leaves..
    Implies an extreme neurotic hatred of nature – biophobia, hatred of ones own biological origins.
    * Use of biofuels from geologic deposits, implies an indifference to air quality, and a civilization founded on frivolous poison spreading, a civilization that must crash when the geologic deposits run out,
    so a species indifferent to its own lungs, and to the fate of its descendants.
    * The noise emitted is similar to species distress screams , so the users are indulging in a harmful neurotic attention getting exercise.
    * From the design tolerances , the machines are evidently made in factories with slave labour, who else but slaves would tolerate assembly line squalor?
    * A slave society: who else but slaves, or insane beings, would use toxic air & noise polluters for a merely frivolous task?

    ..According to the Lung Association, a leaf blower causes as much smog as 17 cars.
    ..unintended consequence of disturbing and suspending smaller particulate matter such as dust, fecal matter, pesticides, fungi, chemicals, fertilizers, spores, and street dirt that consists of lead and organic and elemental carbon, according to the California EPA.

  5. I am one of those who also detests leaf blowers! Whoever invented the leaf blower, his hell should be that forever and ever and ever he should be consigned to leaf blower hell where for eternity all he will hear are leaf blowers everywhere until the end of time. Maybe that way he can begin to pay for the horrible sin of inflicting the pain of that machine on us! I just had to listen to one right outside my apt windows, while the poor idiot blew leaves all around the alleyway. so who actually invented this machine?

  6. from wikipedia

    Backpack leaf blower

    The leaf blower was invented by Dom Quinto in the late 1950s[citation needed]. It was originally introduced to the United States as part of an agricultural chemical sprayer. Shortly thereafter manufacturers discovered that many consumers were removing the chemical dispensing parts from the device, leaving only the blower behind. Manufacturers then saw the potential of their invention as a common lawn and garden maintenance tool. Drought conditions in California facilitated acceptance of the leaf blower as the use of water for many garden clean-up tasks was prohibited. By 1990, annual sales were over 800,000 in the U.S., and the tool had become a ubiquitous gardening implement.

    Other functions beyond the simple use of garden maintenance have been demonstrated by Richard Hammond on the Brainiac television series, in which a man sized hovercraft was constructed from a leaf blower. Being both portable and able to generate wind speeds of between 140-270 mph and air volumes of 14 cbm per minute, the leaf blower has many potential uses in amateur construction projects.
    [edit]Environmental impact

    Pollution from gasoline-powered groundskeeping equipment is a significant source of air pollution.[1] US emission standards specifically limit emissions from small engines. Electric models produce no emissions at the point of use, but may shift pollution to power plants. Emissions may still be reduced by the use of renewable energy in grid generation, or because central power plants generally must have stricter emissions control equipment installed.

    Soon after the leaf blower was introduced into the U.S., its use was banned in two California cities, Carmel-by-the-Sea in 1975 and Beverly Hills in 1978, as a noise nuisance. There are currently twenty California cities that have banned leaf blowers, sometimes only within residential neighborhoods and usually targeting gasoline-powered equipment. Another 80 cities have ordinances on the books restricting either usage or noise level or both. Other cities have discussed and rejected leaf blower bans. Nationwide, three states, Arizona, Hawaii and New Jersey, have considered laws at the state level, and five other states have at least one city with a leaf blower ordinance.[citation needed]

  7. I won’t list all the horrible things I would do to the inventor but I just wanted to say that I live in Finland and the leaf blowing / lawn mowing problem is rife here too. It is currently 3 o’clock on a Thursday afternoon and I have been suffering almost continuous lawnmower noise since 11 o’clock as the council or whoever they are seem to employ someone to mow all the grass in the neighbourhood at least once a week in the summer. Last week I was woken at 8 o’clock by a guy using a leaf blower to blow DUST. There were no leaves. He was just blowing dust around. He blew the dust from one side of the path to the other, and then he went away. So, anyway, in my opinion the problem is even worse here. They have this IT’S SUMMER!!! attitude and go bloody mental with the noisy gardening equipment. Every summer I get this and I guess the only solution is to move to a different neighbourhood, to an apartment on the 10th floor.