It’s Time to Make the Switch to Electric Lawn Tools—Here’s How to Do It Right
It’s time to step off the gas and practice mindful maintenance in the garden.
You’ve probably heard that California is making moves to be at the forefront of promoting zero-emission when it comes to lawn care. In fact, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill Number 1346, which phases out the sale of gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and other small off-road engines, and it went into effect January 1, 2024. While this switch seems like a no-brainer to reduce air pollution, emissions, and noise pollution, there are definitely a few drawbacks that are causing hesitation for both consumers and the landscaping industry.
Price and additional waste filling our landfills are concerns, so should you still swap out your gas guzzlers for something a little more eco-minded? Absolutely. Read on for the pros, the cons, and recommendations as to which electric leaf blowers are the best options for your particular garden needs.
Benefits of Electric Leaf Blowers
Providing a cleaner and quieter alternative to gas-powered mowers, the main benefit of going electric is that you no longer produce air pollutants, burn any fuel or oil, or wake up your neighbors at 7:30 a.m. on a Saturday. Speaking of noise, traditional gas-powered mowers can produce noise levels of up to 90-112 decibels, which can cause hearing damage, not to mention negatively affect nearby wildlife. I think the most alarming fact I’ve read is how one hour of using a gas leaf blower is equal to driving 1,100 miles. If that isn’t a reason to step off the gas, I don’t know what is.
Going Electric Still Has Consequences
One of the biggest drawbacks of going electric is putting the financial responsibility on professional landscapers and gardeners. These businesses, and in most cases individuals, will now face increased equipment expenses with the challenge of having enough battery supply for managing multiple residences. Rechargeable batteries average around $100 each. While plug-in blowers are an option and less expensive, it might not be the best solution for those with larger properties or hard-to-reach outlets.
Another concern is battery life and the ultimate need to dispose and recycle used batteries. Unlike the recycling of gas equipment, batteries emit lead into the atmosphere. Lithium-ion batteries, which are more commonly used in electrical gardening equipment, contain lower amounts of toxic material, but manufacturing these types of batteries generates large amounts of carbon dioxide.
4 Ways to Be More Mindful with Maintenance
- Leave the Leaves: We have a problem, and that problem is HOA mandates that have spread like wildfire stating no one should have visible leaves on their property. Did you know that leaves store a large percentage of a tree’s nutrients? By keeping leaf matter in place, or redistributing it around your property, you’ll not only help improve soil, you’ll also improve plant health as greenery prepares for the growing season ahead.
- Consider Low-Mess Plants: While leaf matter is an incredibly valuable (and free) resource for your garden, if mess and maintenance aren’t your thing, look into adding a number of evergreen native trees and shrubs to your landscape.
- Get Yourself a Tarp: Whether you choose to blow or rake your leaves, please stop pushing debris into the street as a form of cleanup. Organic materials that enter the storm drain can potentially be harmful to wildlife and impair water quality by feeding harmful algae growth. Not to mention they can clog storm drains and block water flow, causing roadway flooding during major rain events. This reusable tarp with handles has been a workhorse in my garden for collecting organic matter and transporting it to its proper place.
- Buy an Electric Leaf Blower for Your Gardener: Whether you have a gardener or you are your own gardener, as a group we need to be more mindful of the professionals hired to take care of our outdoor spaces. If you are able to purchase an electric tool for your own use, offer it up to your landscape team to use while working on your property. If more people take the initiative to help those who help us, we just might see a greater shift towards helping the planet too.
Our Electric Leaf Blower Picks
Best Rechargeable: EGO Power+ LB6504 Variable-Speed 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Leaf Blower
Best Reduced Noise: 40V HP Brushless Whisper Series Cordless Battery Leaf Blower
Best Backpack: EGO Power+ LB6003 Variable-Speed 56-Volt Cordless Leaf Blower
Research Those Rebates
While there needs to be a move towards more incentive programs to encourage homeowners to go electric, there are a few local programs already in place that might help offset the costs. Look for brand-specific rebates, vouchers, and exchange programs that can help offset the initial purchase costs and increase the return on investment.
As far as landscape and garden professionals looking to swap their commercial equipment for electric models, you may be eligible for grants, vouchers, and tax credits from state and local governments. The proposed Electric Landscaping Equipment Rebate is worth keeping an eye on, as it may help offset the initial purchase costs and increase the return on investment.
Here’s hoping that we will start seeing more incentives and affordable equipment options to make mindful maintenance an easy choice!
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