Hastings' Leaf Blower Law

Hastings adopted new leaf blower legislation in December 2023. The law stipulates:

  • Gas-powered leaf blowers are legal ONLY from Oct 15-Dec 31.
  • ONLY ONE leaf blower of any type (gas or electric) may be used simultaneously on properties of ½ acre or less. This is 92% of properties in Hastings.
  • All commercial landscapers must be registered with the Village and licensed by Westchester County. Registration with the Village is free. Please be sure your landscaper is licensed and registered (you can check registration with the Village clerk).
  • Both homeowners and landscapers may be fined for infractions, which start at $250. Homeowners are subject to fines for contractor’s actions on their properties.  
  • To review the law, visit: https://ecode360.com/HA0290/laws/LF1938552.pdf

Please speak to your lawn care company, if you use one, to ensure they understand the new law and to ensure they comply. For tips on instructing your landscaper, see the document on this page prepared by the Hastings Pollinator Pathway project.

Why Hastings Has Limited Gas-Powered Leaf Blowers to Autumn

The overuse of leaf blowers disturbs neighbors and causes a host of health and environmental impacts. Still, fall leaf clean-up is difficult for landscapers to manage efficiently without the use of these machines. Therefore, the Village decided to allow blowers in the fall, and restrict to electric leaf blowers the rest of the year. The Village also decided to limit the number of all leaf blowers allowed in simultaneous use in order to reduce noise. These are some of the reasons this legislation is important:


Aggravation and heart disease
People genuinely find loud noise aggravating, which is the main reason communities everywhere have noise ordinances. Noise pollution not only raises stress levels, it has concomitant health impacts: if you work in a noisy environment, you are more likely to have heart disease (read more). 

Hearing loss
Stereocilia in the inner ear, which are responsible for our hearing and balance, do not regenerate once damaged, which means that hearing damage from lawn equipment noise is permanent. Scientists are discovering associations between hearing loss and other health issues, such as the link between hearing loss and dementia.

How noise is measured
Like the seismic scale, the decibel scale is logarithmic: an increase in 10 dB reflects sound 10 times as loud (see this site for more explanation). Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss, depending on the length of exposure. A single gas-powered leaf blower will regularly hit 115 dB, guaranteeing hearing loss at close range—not to mention the use of several blowers at once, a common practice. The industrial-scale mowers some landscapers use on suburban lawns range between 86 and 96 dB. You can get an app such as this one from NIOSH from CDC to test noise levels for yourself, with the understanding that it is an estimated reading.

Air Quality

Gas-powered engines
Almost all gas-powered leaf blowers use two-stroke engines, which are quite dirty: roughly 30% of the fuel used in two-stroke engines fails to undergo complete combustion, resulting in the release of smog-forming carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, and volatile organic compounds such as benzene, a known carcinogen. Importantly, these particulates are often ultrafine, a mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in air. These are defined as PM 10 and PM 2.5, which refers to their size. 

Gas or electric? Ultrafine particles either way.
All leaf blowers kick up heavy metals, pesticides, nanoplastics, animal feces and allergens (e.g. pollen and mold spores) from the ground, which we then breathe in. Small particles 10 microns and less in diameter (PM10) pose problems because they can get deep into the lungs; the smallest particles (PM2.5) can enter the bloodstream, traverse the blood-brain barrier, and cause cerebral inflammation. Larger particles can irritate eyes, noses and throats and trigger asthma attacks. These impacts affect all of us: our children, our pets, and, most directly, the operators of the machinery. This is why we recommend reducing blower use whenever possible. 

Climate Change
It's getting bad out there, folks. Why use a polluting 2-stroke engine when it's not necessary? We will have to choose, as a society, whether having vacuumed grass and driveways is more important, than, say, coral reefs (among other choices). If you feel that driveway and grass appearance is more important than protecting our collective atmosphere, or if you think these small insults to planetary systems don't make a difference, let's have a conversation. Email the Conservation Commission at conservationcommission@hastingsgov.org.
What You Can Do

Practice ecological yard care. If you maintain lawn and it is impractical to rake leaves into your beds or under shrubs (which helps supports pollinators, as many overwinter curled up into leaves), use a mulching mower to grind fallen leaves and grass clippings back into the lawn. This is actually healthier for your grass, and most contractors can do this. Meanwhile, blowing lawn worsens soil quality, causing erosion and compaction. Ask your landscaper to restrict blower use to driveways and paths. Another way to both provide ecosystem services and to manage leaves is to simply have less lawn. For tons more valuable info, visit Hastings Pollinator Pathway, Healthy Yards Westchester, and Leave Leaves Alone websites.

Remember, your landscape contractor is eager to keep your business. If you are interested in an environmentally healthier yard, work with your landscaper to help them adjust their practices. Please let them know that you are aware of Hastings leaf blower law and that you realize this may take an adjustment, and seek to embrace a lawn that is not perfectly vacuumed. After all, it's not a rug; it's alive!