Ahhhh, the Sounds of Fall: The Relaxing Gas-powered Leaf Blowers!

As I walked to work in the sunshine last Thursday, I noticed something I’ve seen too many times downtown lately – private clean-up crews out with noisy gas powered blowers blowing leaves off of their sidewalks directly into the street.

Blowing leaves into the street

Property owners may think they are doing the right thing by cleaning off their sidewalks, but for those property owners or managers who don’t know:  blowing leaves into the streets creates additional problems for everyone.

This is a bigger problem than may be apparent on first glance.  Dumping leaves into the gutter is clearly not a 911-type of violation, but it costs all of us money and creates bigger problems for us when the storms start.  Leaves clog the storm drains, and that leads to flooding in the streets and even into your and your neighbors’ basements.  Seattle Public Utilities and Seattle Department of Transportation work  hard to keep the drains clear but they can’t be everywhere at once. 

Too loud to operate without hearing protection.

Since our tree canopy is dropping leaves in earnest this week, here’s what we all can do to keep our sidewalks clear and keep water flowing where it should:

  • The best way to deal with leaves is to bag them up and put them in your yard waste bin or compost them. Learn about composting on the Seattle Public Utilities web site.  
  • If the gutter or drain is filled with leaves on your corner, be a good sport:  pull the leaves out of the drain so the water will go where it is designed to go.
  • In lieu of a gas powered leaf blower, try an electric one if your back is giving you trouble or the broom is too much. Admittedly not as powerful as the gas-powered blower, the electric ones are substantially quieter.  The clean-up crew at City Hall combine brooms and a battery pack. 

    Electric blowers -- a quieter alternative

  • A vacuum/composter like the Billy Goat is a less noisy tool that works well downtown.  Thanks to the Norton Building and the Columbia Center’s crews –for example –for using this vacuum.  Rather than blowing the leaves, it sucks leaves up and mulches them, creating a great byproduct for our gardens.

Thanks for doing your part to keep our city clean and our storm drains clear.

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