There are plenty of good reasons to hate leaf blowers: They’re loud, they’re gross, and they’re as bad for your health as they are for the environment. It’s no wonder that more and more cities across the U.S. are limiting their use and even banning them outright. Here’s how to find out if there’s a leaf blower ban in your area.
More than 100 cities across the U.S. have banned gas-powered leaf blowers for at least part of the year. Although pollution is definitely a concern, the main reason for these bans is how much noise leaf blowers make, which is why they’re handled at the local level. If you want to see what the rules are where you live, check your city, town, or county noise ordinances first. Local news reports should have additional information, too.
If you use a leaf blower for yard maintenance and they’re “banned” in your area, make sure to read the fine print because every city and town does things a little differently. Most rules don’t actually ban leaf blowers outright; instead, they regulate when and where they can be used. Here in Portland, Ore., for example, “City code limits daytime use of leaf blowers to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in all Residential Land Use Zones.” But it’s not always simple: Newton, Mass. prohibits all gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but allows one electric or battery-powered blower per lot during that time. Gas-powered blowers under 65 decibels are fine the rest of the year, but only during certain hours, which differ for weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. There’s also a graduated fine system based on the number of violations; it’s all very complicated. (I’m glad I’m not responsible for a lawn in Newton, Mass.)
The bottom line: Before you fire up your leaf blower for the season, double-check your local regulations to make sure doing so won’t earn you a fine. And if you’re still using a gas-powered blower, now’s as good a time as any to explore other options.