Adam Rice

My life and the world around me

Moral compromise

One of my most vehement pet peeves is the leaf blower. They’re annoying all on their own, but they symbolize so much more: by blowing leaves into the street, you make your problem everyone else’s. They seemingly exist only for people with yards too big to rake. And of course, there’s the howling din.

I’m trying to sell my house right now, and one of the house’s weak spots is Curb Appeal. I’ve never been big on yardwork, and it shows. There are two things my property has a lot of: rocks and trees. River rocks covering the driveway, pumice rocks along the walkway to the front door (worst landscaping idea ever), and big limestone rocks lining the edges of everything, laboriously hauled in from a construction site in the hills to the west of town. Three pecan trees, a live oak, a persimmon, and overhang from a neighbor’s enormous oak. The trees are profligate leaf-droppers, and the rocks are excellent leaf-catchers, leading to an untidy yard that diminishes the curb appeal. Short of picking individual leaf-fragments out of all the rocks by hand, there’s only one way to get them out. So over the weekend, we broke down and bought one. Yes, a leaf-blower.

Actually, this thing is a combo leaf-blower and leaf-vacuum/mulcher. The mulching feature is pretty cool, as it dramatically reduces the volume of leaves. (The manufacturer claims a 10:1 ratio. I’m not sure if that’s accurate–I probably got half that). While it’s not an efficient use of time to stand around hoovering up piles of leaves so that you can dump them into fewer yard-waste bags later, and even less efficient to try to use the thing as a vacuum over the whole yard, it definitely does minimize the tawny soldiers lined up at the curb on Monday morning, and the vacuum can extract leaves stuck in rock crevices. The blower is a precision instrument in exactly the same way as a water cannon, making it hard to use and unpredictable, but it did kick a good fraction of the leaves in the driveway into a pile that could then be hoovered up.

With any luck, my next house will make the thing redundant.

2 Comments

  1. My officemate once complained that, “oh god, those guys are out there in the parking lot again, playing leaf-blower hockey with a dead bird.”

    I looked. They were.

  2. We have several rock beds in our yard (we inherited them) and decided to buy an electric leaf blower/vacuum last year when we couldn’t face another hour of scraping and poking to coax the last of the leaves out of the nooks and crannies with a rake. There’s something strangely satisfying about sucking them up. But I’ve NEVER fired it up before 10 a.m.

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