“A good neighbor keeps the noise down.”
– Advertisement for Boeing 787 Dreamliner, 2006
You can help to make your neighborhood quieter:
How to convert to “Quiet Landscaping”
The scene above does not necessarily have to suffer the event pictured below.
Cartoon by Tom Toro, with thanks.
In Quiet Princeton’s leaf blower initiative, local landscapers have signed up to be available as “Quiet Landscapers.”
The program is voluntary. We believe it is a win-win for all involved:
— Homeowners, who are affected by the noise
— Neighbors, who are also affected by the noise
— Landscapers’ workers, who are affected by day-long exposure to noise and pollution
— Landscape contractors, who may get additional customers who are looking for a “Quiet Landscaper”
Many interested parties benefit from this initiative:
— The municipality: the initiative decreases clogging of drains and costly removal of leaf piles from the streets.
— Public health: the initiative decreases hearing damage and lung problems that landscapers’ workers suffer from leaf blowers’ noise and pollution.
— Environmentalists: the initiative decreases serious air pollution from leaf blower operation and from transporting leaves.
— Ecologists: the initiative decreases damage due to removal of topsoil by leaf blowers.
— Princeton residents: the initiative decreases distressing and stressful noise that leaf blowers create.
How Quiet Landscaping works:
STEP 1: WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEAVES (whether or not you have a landscaper)
Many good alternatives involve no use of a leaf blower at all:
—leaving grass clippings in place (this is the best thing to do; it returns nutrition to the soil)
—using a mulching mower to mulch leaves into the lawns
– using a Lawn Sweeper — a simple device that picks up the leaves and twigs and conveniently collects them in a bag. This is easier, faster, and of course far quieter than a blower:
—blowing leaves into flowerbeds using the side discharge of a mower
—raking leaves into flowerbeds or into a corner of your yard
—raking only in limited, selected places
—raking of most areas previously cleared with leaf blowers (This option may cost more because raking can take more time.)
—avoiding “Scorched earth” removal of everything, as is often done with leaf blowers. This is very bad for the topsoil, birds, and garden life, and removes desirable mulch. It is not recommended and should be avoided.
STEP 2: WITH YOUR CURRENT LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR
When you hire a landscaping contractor, you are in control of how the work is performed. If you already have a landscape contractor, instruct him or her to “stop using leaf blowers”. Don’t accept using blowers “a bit.” Say “no leaf blowers.” Tell him or her that other landscape contractors are doing this. Discuss the alternatives in step 1 with the contractor and reach an agreement on how he/she will handle leaves and grass clippings. This is key to your mutual satisfaction, to cost, and to the environment. It is quite possible to eliminate use of leaf blowers altogether in most cases. If felt needed, we strongly recommend that electric leaf blowers be used only sparingly and on very limited areas—perhaps on walkways only. Never on streets or grass. But a wide, lightweight, broom can quickly clear a walkway, for example, almost as well with zero noise. Avoid using gas-powered leaf blowers even in the allowed spring and fall periods. Other methods—rakes, brooms, mulching, leave-in-place, plus some electric blowers (see step 1 above)—can deal with fall leaves without disturbing neighbors.
Sustainable Princeton has become very active in this area and has good recommendations: see “Conversations with Landscapers”.
STEP 3: HIRE A NEW LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR
If your current landscape contractor won’t stop using leaf blowers, you can hire a new landscaper–a “Quiet Landscaper.” See the attached list of Quiet Landscapers. These Princeton-area landscapers have agreed to perform lawn maintenance without leaf blowers. Insist on no leaf blowers and discuss how to handle leaves and grass clippings as in step 2.
STEP 4: TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBORS
To go a stage further, and to broaden the impact of leaf blower avoidance in your neighborhood, talk to your neighbors about Quiet Landscaping and how it benefits your neighborhood.
When you or your landscape contractor are not using leaf blowers, but your neighbors are, Quiet Princeton recommends that you talk to your neighbors in a win-win discussion.
- Inform them of the Princeton ordinance that prohibits GLB’s in summer and winter, and that both landscaper and homeowner are liable for compliance.
- Download and print out the QP Informational Flyer to give to your neighbors. The flyer summarizes important information from this website in an easy-to-print-out format. It tells the neighbor of alternative options available. It refers them to the latest list of Princeton landscape contractors on this website who have agreed to do “Quiet Landscaping” using no leaf blowers. No blowers at all goes beyond the new ordinance (which still allows use of electric ones and allows gas-powered ones in part of the year) to a better way of doing landscape maintenance.
Congratulations on being a part of this effort to improve our neighborhoods!
STEP 5: CONVERT AREAS TO NO-MOW OR LOW-MOW
See the webpage No-Mow Landscaping