Make America rake again!

By April 8, 2017Sustainable Landscaping

I am a landscape contractor and have been in the industry for over 30 years. I am a business owner and have owned two-stroke back-pack and hand held leaf blowers for years. I have used them myself and have had my employees use them in the past. This was part of the experience that drove me to become a dedicated ecological landscaper. I personally know more than a few landscapers that quit the industry specifically to escape the pollution and noise. I have been working out in the field all of my career.

Quintessential ‘tools’

The only reason I still love what I do is because I have chosen to leave many of the ”tools-of-the-trade’ behind. One of these quintessential ‘tools’ is the gas leaf blower. I now believe that the use of gas leaf blowers and high speed/high volume leaf blowers are an affront to the communities in which we work. Of the landscapers arsenal they are one of the easiest to misuse. They cause dust and particulate matter pollution including heavy metals, fecal matter, fungus spores and toxic chemicals, they cause gas and oil exhaust pollution and noise pollution. They threaten human health including auditory, respiratory and nervous system health. They threaten animal health for these same reasons in both domestic and wild animals, they threaten beneficial insects (like bees), they threaten plant health with the dust and they threaten soil health in the form of denuding. Some might claim to be improving the environment with their ‘Mow, Blow and Go’ landscaping and I beg to differ. Enough is enough! It is not okay to destroy the sound-scape, the air and the soil in our communities in the vain pursuit of the perfect landscape especially when rakes and brooms can do the job just fine. This in No way is a word against the workers using leaf blowers. They are just trying to earn a living and are the ones most at risk. Every single one of us including the workers will benefit from moving away from the gas leaf blower.
Hit and run landscaping makes a mockery of the art of landscape gardening.  Simply put If you put up with leaf blower pollution you end up with pollution.
This is a call to raise the bar to the industry.

We can do better than this!

Ken Foster


Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping

Santa Cruz, Ca.


Winner of the ‘broom vs.the leaf blower’ challenge.


About Ken

In 1967, 10-year-old Ken Foster read The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett. It took him a whole summer to read, but it inspired him to see gardening as a celebration of our coexistence with nature. In 1985, he took on an apprenticeship at the UC Santa Cruz Farm and Garden, and there he discovered his passion. He founded Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping in 1988, and has dedicated his life to caring for the environment and community through sustainable landscaping. He also teaches a permaculture class at Cabrillo College. When he’s not busy with designing, installing, and maintaining ecological landscapes, Ken can be found riding his bike around town, or making mandalas out of salvaged herbs that would otherwise have been sent to the landfill.

One Comment

  • Andy says:

    Here’s my advice to you. Before you spend a lot of money on expensive equipment and kill time and health to work in the garden, try to look for an INexpensive specialist in your area. I found one for me here, Very convenient site, I now constantly order services there. All you need to do is to choose your city, look up all the offers, compare them, and order the service you liked just in two clicks. Service Providers gets payment only after they provided the service to you.

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