Kindly Go Fuck Yourself With Your Shitty Fucking Gas-Powered Leafblower, You Tremendous Asshole


Sometimes I ask myself if humans are good or bad or somewhere in the middle. I wonder if we are worthy of the world, if civilization was worth its cost. Then I remember that humans invented the leafblower, and I decide I can’t wait till the octopuses and crows take over.

Right now, as I type this, a neighbor — not even a next-door neighbor, but one several houses removed — has a landscaping service featuring a trio of young white jabronis with leafblowers. These are gas-powered leafblowers. The property is, I’d guess, around a half-acre in size.

They have been there for an hour and a half. Leafblowing this entire time.

It is incredibly loud.

It sounds like this:

vvvvWWAAAHHHHHHHH

mmmMWMAAAAAAWAAAAHHHHH

NNNNAAAAHHHHHHHHHH

VVMMMAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH

brum brum brum brum

HYYYAYAAAAAAAHHHHHHHNNNNHHHHNNN

It is the sound of machines screaming. Angry hot hell-machines screaming their torment into the world. And, for an extra bonus, I’ve watched these fucking dickheads doing their leafblowing, and it is, as anyone who has ever used a leafblower knows, wildly fucking inefficient. It’s like herding butterflies. It’s just trying to move a swarm of bees with a box fan. You watch these shitheads wave their black tubes around, blasting clouds of leaves and dust into the air — leaves that will not be so casually commanded, oh no. Leaves that the wind gladly puts right back from whence they came. They’re not moving leaves in a straight line. It’s chaos theory. It’s water on back of Ian Malcolm’s hand. It’s limbs akimbo, a nightmare dance of nothing done.

I watched a guy (different lawn) two weeks ago herding about a half-dozen small leaves back and forth, back and forth, with his leafblower. He’d blast them one way, but then they’d escape his intended path, so he’d go the other way, and end up back where they came from. He would’ve been more efficient had he blindfolded himself and used a pair of fucking chopsticks to do the job.

Listen.

It’s a come to Jesus moment.

Fuck your gas-powered leafblower.

Get rid of it.

Your gas-powered leafblower is a fucking nightmare. It’s a nightmare first and foremost for the environment. Just on a basic exhaust level, the pollutants a two-stroke engine leafblower emit into the world are hundreds of times worse than a goddamn automobile. (Source: Sierra Club.) I need you to reckon with that because it’s worse than even I, a person who Deeply Detests Leafblowers, expected. From Edmunds: “A consumer-grade leaf blower emits more pollutants than a 6,200-pound 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor.” Also from that article: “The hydrocarbon emissions from a half-hour of yard work with the two-stroke leaf blower are about the same as a 3,900-mile drive from Texas to Alaska in a Raptor,” said Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor at Edmunds.com. “As ridiculous as it may sound, it is more ‘green’ to ditch your yard equipment and find a way to blow leaves using a Raptor.”

Holy fucking shit. That’s awful. It’s like the leafblower was a device designed by an actual demon in order to help destroy the world.

Plus, the noise pollution is bad for people and for nature. For extra fun, the leafblowers just kick up everything you really don’t want kicked up. Dust? Yup! Mold and spores? Absolutely! Pesticides you don’t wanna breath in? Sure! Aerosolized raccoon shit? Hell yeah, bro! Time to take a big ol’ lungful of POSSUM DUNG. Mmmm. Get that all up in you.

And here’s the thing: leaves? They’re supposed to be there. They fall from trees for a reason. It’s not fucking random! They’re not mad at us and puking leaves onto our lawns because they hate us (though trees should definitely 100% hate us). Nature is a circuit! A glorious, sometimes-simple, sometimes-elaborate circuit. Trees soak up all these nutrients, some of those go into the leaves, the leaves fall to the ground, and ta-da, they redistribute those nutrients into the ground. The health of the ground is based on this very cycle. It is an essential loop. You further will discover that there are other natural necessities that come with leaf cover and leaf litter, as well. Little wonderful creatures like to chill out over the winter under leaf litter. You know how we’re killing all the insects in an insect apocalypse? Yeah. This is part of that. You ever lament the loss of fireflies (around here, we call ’em lightning bugs)? You say, “Gosh, I don’t see as many of those little glowing butts these days.” Well, this is part of why you don’t. They love those leaves. They need those leaves. (Also, they don’t need the pesticide. Relax with the fucking pesticide.) And then the birds are happy too because sometimes they like to eat those bugs.

And here someone says, “But the leaf cover kills my lawn!”

Riiiight, yeah, here’s the thing, your lawn is also bad. It is a weak, whimpering monoculture. It is a sad, non-native, largely-lifeless inert carbon-useless golf-green that has somehow become The Way Our Lawns Must Look. The reason leaf cover kills it is because your lawn is shit. It’s thin piss. It is landscaping gruel. You ever walk through a forest, an actual forest, and lament how the leaves have killed the grass there? No? You know why? BECAUSE THAT’S HOW IT’S SUPPOSED TO LOOK. That’s just nature! It’s supposed to be that way! The leaves fall! It’s fine! It’s good, even! Even if you really really want that lawn, did you know there are native grasses you can use? And you don’t even need to use grasses? Our lawn is a diverse nonsense array of dozens and dozens of different plants that we don’t fertilize and we don’t spray with pesticide or herbicide and even on drought days it’s green and healthy-looking and yes, some of it is invasive, and I combat the invasive stuff with aggressive native spreaders, and turns out, those native spreaders have flowers and they bring bugs and pollinators and birds who want the bugs and who want the seeds and it’s really pretty and I love it and I don’t ever have to strap a soot-belching silence-murdering jet engine to my back to protect it from the big mean leaves that fall from the big mean trees. What a wonder!

(Oh, and we get so many fireflies it is legit like a religious experience.)

And yes, I acknowledge here that sometimes you have to move some leaves around. You want to clear walkways. You want to clear some ditches and drains. You may even want some yard space where kids can run without slipping on wet leaves. I acknowledge this.

But have you ever considered… using a rake? Hell, okay, even if you really love the (in)efficiency of a leafblower, they make electric ones! They’re really good now! And super quiet! And not barfing shit into the air! It’s amazing!

Anyway.

To sum up:

You’re literally killing the world to crappily usher leaves around, leaves that should be largely left alone because they’re supposed to be there.

Stop trying to control nature. You’re a part of it, not above it, not separate from it, you are not its master. We have to start learning to live in synchronicity with the world, because right now? We are the invasive species.

Your gas-powered leafblower is shitty and bad and should be banned.

The end.

P.S., the leafblowers finally stopped. It took them almost two hours. Christ.


68 responses to “Kindly Go Fuck Yourself With Your Shitty Fucking Gas-Powered Leafblower, You Tremendous Asshole”

  1. JHC I agree with you 100%. However, it’s my next-door neighbor for 29 years and he has been the best possible neighbor ever (with one or two small exceptions) and if you have ever had a shitty neighbor, you know how I treasure him. He is lawn-obsessed and I swear to ghod he mows his turf every other day in the growing season – his grass clippings must look like the dill hyphens from one of those tiny herb containers you get in the grocery store. But in 98% of all cases he has been there for me literally through deaths and triumphs, and put up with my own less-than-sterling neighbor behavior lapses, so I cannot bring myself to harass him about his leaf blower. And he’s pretty systematic and efficient at it, so at least the maddening noise doesn’t last for long each time.

  2. dude! Thanks. I am laughing and crying at the same time. So much common sense in these magically uttered words. If only more of us could get the hell of the crazy-making train we’ve been told is the way the world works.

  3. I sooooo feel your pain. Our neighbors get the leaf blower out every day. EVERY DAY. And they feel bad that the trees on the property line drop leaves and pine needles in our yard, so they try to come over and blow our yard as well. Thanks, but no.

  4. Yeah. That. And the absolute apex of inanity is using it on rain-sodden leaves. Because. Yeah.
    I am shoulder to shoulder with you on this. Back in the day, oh those glorious days, when one bought domain names for every niche project one could think up, I actually bought “leaffear.com” intending to fulminate against the stinking, ear-throttling beasts, but it joined the sad stack of discards in the end.
    PICK UP YOUR RAKES!

  5. Amen. I’ve hated these things for years, and also hate to see them used to clear dust/sand/etc off an asphalt area. Try a broom maybe?? And Do Not get me started on lawns where it is an arid desert.

  6. Chuck, if I weren’t madly in love with you before, I am now as you expressed my sentiments about leaf blowers so much more eloquently than I could!
    Hell, if you would run for political office on the platform of banning leaf blowers alone, I would do everything humanly possible to elect you!!

    I have a neighbor who blows the leafs off his driveway every fucking morning! It’s psychotic how he’s unable to accept that any bit of nature should foul his precious concrete driveway. I seriously believe he needs therapy to figure his obsession with trying to control the outside world in this petty, annoying fashion.

    I walk my dogs every morning and would love to savor a peaceful relaxing walk, bit instead I’m treated to this dickhead with his blower.

    Death to the leaf blowers!!

  7. I cannot express how much I love you for writing this. I had the same thoughts last week when our landlord hired some guys to “remove” the leaves, including all the ones in my native plant garden where I hoped the leaves would stay to enrich next year’s garden (and insects etc). Of course now the trees have continued to drop leaves so they’ll probably be back to continue their sisyphean task. Next time I’ll be out there to stop them before they attack my garden again.
    Anyway. Thank you.

  8. Fuck yes. This is the worst. The noise. The smell. The Sisyphus-like uselessness of them. Why humans feel the need to “clean up” nature from itself, I’ll never fucking understand.

  9. I raked leaves yesterday listening to the audio book ‘Dust & Grim (it’s great)! My neighbor’s 4 yr. old son came over and jumped in the leaves. I will rake them into piles all day to see the joy on his face. Oh, to be 4 again!

  10. I left my desk just so I could say how much I appreciate this post. I am almost completely lawn free due both to the drought here in Southern California and the fact that turf grass really doesn’t do anything positive for the environment and specifically the local ecology. Everything I plant (and we are now starting in prime planting season) is more and more locally native as my garden evolves. And all of these plants are meant to either feed pollinators, their caterpillars or the local birds who eat the caterpillars (and the hawks that find the birds). For too long nurseries have sold only non-natives because they’re less likely to be eaten by local “pests”. But in the end, the “pests” are what draw in the birds and other wildlife. The next thing to do is to get rid of the neonicotinoids in the plants sold so they don’t kill the insects that want to feed on them.

    If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem

  11. You are absolutely right. When people say we have to save the planet, they don’t realize it’s us that must be saved. The planet will be fine. We won’t be. We are the invasive species.

  12. We finally gave up raking our leaves after many, many years. It’s back-breaking stuff. Now the sit where they fall and if they blow into my neighbors yard, oh well. Maybe, after the next windy day they’ll blow down the street even further.

  13. YEEEESSSSSSS!!! We’re buying a house and the first thing we do next year is tear out all the grass and out in native everything. I cannot wait!

  14. Spot on, Chuck. Thank you for addressing this VITAL issue. A few people in our neighbourhood in VA have put up polite little notices asking for the use of leaf blowers to be reduced, to no noticeable effect. Time to amp things up! I bought two leaf rakes just yesterday, and this article sums up the reason why. Shared!

  15. Years ago I lived in an apartment building in Orange County, California (behind the Orange Curtain, as I thought of it). Tuesday became my housework day because at 8 a.m. every Tuesday, the gardeners descended for hours of mowing, leaf-blowing, edging, and trimming, all of it gasoline-powered. There was no point in trying to get any writing or editing done. Those leaf-blowers, in particular, lived in my brain.

    This was nearly 40 years ago, and I swear I have PTSD from it. Now that I’m looking back, I don’t remember any trees in the lawn area. There was a pool, some flowerbeds . . . but I don’t remember so much as a palm tree.

    We’re killing this planet, as if we don’t depend on it for our very lives.

  16. Bless you, Chuck. Leaf blowers in my neighborhood are deafening–jet airplane engine loud. I have to flee indoors to spare my hearing. The environmental impact is appalling. Keep shouting! You’re on the right path.

    • Nailed it. This nugget is why I subscribe to your newsletter. It truly represents the best of Wendig – outraged, literate and well constructed. With the odd F-bomb thrown in for good measure.

  17. Every time someone in our neighborhood fires up their leafblower, my wife starts muttering curses and obscenities under our breath. She’s so vehemently opposed to it that it’s rubbed off on our son, who now screams directly at anybody using a leafblower when we’re out on our walks. (Fortunately, he’s pre-verbal, so it’s just a rage-filled whine… for now.)

    I didn’t know they were that bad for the environment, though. That’s fucking terrible.

  18. Thank you- couldn’t have said it better myself. People across my street used one for about a Saturday. Plus the yahoo next door for about 15 minutes. Way too loud.

  19. Leaf blowers are absolutely terrible … for the people who use them. They are inefficient burners of gasoline and spew a toxic exhaust that poisons the user when they breathe it in. The exhaust they leave behind sickens anyone in the vicinity. Yes, they are just fucking leaves so let them decompose and do their thing.

    I live in So Cal where the war on leaf blowers has raged for decades. We gave our gardener an electric one that is quiet, rechargeable and nonpolluting. And if it misses a few leaves, so fucking what. Gas powered leaf blowers are for Trump supporters and other nasty, self-involved humans. Let them go to the graveyard with mink coats and lawn darts.

  20. Solidarity. (raises fist). We moved back into a neighborhood a couple of months ago, just in time for leaf season. I swear each house has a different company come out different days to mow and blow. And the neighbors behind us! If there is ever a reason the PGA can’t play at Augusta National, they should talk to those neighbors. They must have 4-5 acres of preciously groomed lawn. Why do they need that much lawn? Who knows? I’m sure they have their reasons. It takes their lawn service 3-4 hours to get ‘er all done. The worst of it being the industrial wind machines they ride to blow the leaves off the precious lawn and into the tree line. So. Fucking. Loud.

  21. Chuck, I feel—and hear—your pain. My street is a constant cacophany of leafblowers and riding lawnmowers, the latter mowing anywhere from one to three or more acres. Some people insist on mowing not once, but twice a week, even if it hasnt rained in a month, because—well, appearances, you know, in case the grass case might have sprouted a quarter inch anyway. The noise is hideous, to the point that I cant do art because I cant freaking think for all the racket, and have to find an errand in town to be able to get away. Ive also noticed a lot fewer butterflies, lightning bugs, birds, and four-legged wildlife as well—theyre also noise-sensitive. Why do people move to rural areas if they cant appreciate quiet?

  22. We have many such idiots in our neighborhood. A neighborhood in a Nature Conservancy, for eff’s sake!!! But one is particularly bad. He spends hours at it and makes a point of trying to herd the leaf-butterflies across the street and into the park. Doesn’t matter whether a car is driving down the road or not. He expects them to stop and wait for him to get the next batch of 12 leaves over the road and away from his lawn. I just started reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Secret Network of Nature and would like to go shove a copy up the blower tube (or whatever fancy name it has). Not that I’m sure he can read.

  23. Everything about this is perfect except the word “kindly” in the headline… hatefully go fuck yourself with your leaf blowers. Especially in cities you are literally just blowing dust onto someone else’s property only for their landscapers to come along two days later and return the favor in an endless circle jerk of choking dust and exhaust smoke…

  24. Had a tough morning with Amazon linking happy reviews of a vacuum cleaner to my latest novel and sabotaging sales of my goddamn masterpiece. Your rant cheered me up immensely. “It is the sound of machines screaming.” Ha! Yes! Thanks for that!

  25. I appreciate you researched this and posted about it, because I only hated leafblowers for their noise. Now I have more reasons. Why can’t they just keep it on full power the whole time so my brain can tune out the drone?

  26. Phoenix, Arizona, as you know, is an arid waste land. Sad to say I had a lawn (have since moved to Tucson AZ with a fake lawn and lots of rocks). Anyway, we lived midtown near a shopping center we walked through daily and damn if those leafblowers weren’t polluting the already polluted air with gas fumes and dirt.

    What is the point of a leaf blower? Do I clean my home with a massive hair dryer? No, I used a VACUUM Cleaner. Why do they not have vacuum cleaners to clean up debris at the outdoor shopping mall?

  27. A few weeks ago, I had to listen to a leafblower for 4 or 5 hours straight. Starting at 6 AM or so.

    I have no idea why our city uses them. They’re noisy, inefficient, and kick up a hell of a lot of dust. I guess they have to pretend they’re doing something useful.

  28. Amen, brother. Personally, I think rakes work better. Plus, like you said, the leaves are supposed to fall and be there!

  29. I fired my gardener and got a no-blow one after realizing a, how terrible for the environment leaf blowers were and b, how terrible the noise pollution was. It was going for walks in the wealthy neighborhood by my daughter’s school with tons of gardeners blowing leaves that made me realize how much they suck. If twenty houses in a neighborhood were all blasting music at the same volume people would call the cops, but because it is a leaf blower they get a pass.

  30. I did a Toastmasters speech about the evils of leaf blowers. You hit all my arguments and then some. Let’s hope the offenders get the message if their hearing hasn’t been ruined.

  31. When we moved to this house, the first thing I said was that the majority of the lawn had to go. We are planning a multi-year project to turn most of the yard into native wildflower gardens. And the leaves? Yes, we do move them off the lawn for now, but we also have a nicely wooded hillside to rake them onto so the insects and other leaf-loving critters can still have their cover. The neighbors? Most use lawn services or their own leaf blowers and pile it all up to the hauled away. 🙁

  32. I 100% agree with everything you said Chuck. i live on the south coast of NSW Australia surrounded by bush and even here among the gum trees people torture us with leaf blowers…trees everywhere. If ever there was a pointless, dumb and harmful thing to do it is that.

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