Why gardening has become so noisy.

It wasn’t long after our arrival in Australia in 1956 that I discovered the important relationship that Australia has with their gardens, especially the lawns. The discovery and implementation of title gave former renters the opportunity to buy their own block of land and build their own house. It took off like wildfire and it infected migrants the same. Own block with own house was the aim of life above much else. It is one reason why protecting this asset became important with fences and borders denoting the exact position of own house and own block.

With that became the need to protect and enhance by having lovely gardens and so it was that the grass lawn was born. An inherited gene from the English. But it also soon became apparent that trees and their shedding of leaves were not in tune with maintaining the perfect lawn. I remember well our neighbour in a very silent, peopleless and quiet suburb spending whole weekends on his knees tending the sacred lawn next to where we were living. The dying leaves from shrubbery would be quickly removed even before they dared to hit his lawn. Trees were forbidden to grow above gutter heights.

In those early days there were brooms and rakes to keep grass tidy but with time all sorts of innovative equipment were designed to keep the lawns tidy and obedient. Of course, with our own blocks of land and own homes the suburbs were born and with that came the stillness and quietness of lives lived in a somewhat isolated fashion but of great comfort were our gardens and lawns, so green and verdant.

As I said though, new equipment was discovered but they came with great fanfare and noise and now in 2023, our autumn has arrived, and an orchestra of noisy leaf blowers is heralding it in no uncertain terms. Not just leaf blowers but petrol driven edgers and leaf mulchers, ride on mowers with sometimes huge but proud owners astride teaching those lawns a lesson.

I am speculating here but is all that noise a reaction to the stillness and forlornness of the suburban way of life. Our houses on own blocks, fenced off, curtains drawn with added protection of tropical wooden blinds or venetians, privacy till we die? The streets so quiet and empty. Where are the people? Is all that noise, blowing leaves and whipper snipping, edging the pathway on the ‘nature’ strip our way of escaping this lonely quietness? It at least gives us the opportunity to meet our neigbours when they are about and tackling the leaves. I often pop out if I hear petrol driven garden noise curious who might be about.

I mean how important is it to keep leaves away and the grass lawn so perfect, or the edges on the concrete walkway so neat?

Perhaps we could spend more time together sharing gossip and coffees.

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28 Responses to “Why gardening has become so noisy.”

  1. Robert Parker Says:

    I like the sound of raking leaves but hate the sound of leaf blowers. One of my aunts has a neighbor who uses one year-round, twice a day he blows his driveway. I guess he can’t help his obsessiveness but I think I’d stuff him in a wood chipper.

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the ultimate noise machine has to be the woodchipper. They are enormous and the big one mulch entire trees. They are merciless and very dangerous.
      Yes, to hear the sweeping of a broom one has to go to Bali for a holiday. Each morning at the crowing of the rooster one can hear the swish of the broom, made of the bundling of reeds and bamboo twigs. No leaf blowers in Bali yet!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. catterel Says:

    Back in the days in England when each little house in the suburban row had its own neat front garden, and maybe one car parked in the drive, it was usual for neighbours to chat over the fence or wall or dividing strip as they washed their car, clipped their hedges, pushed their lawnmowers and weeded the borders. Real friendships and support networks grew up in these cosy neighbourhoods. But now, families “need” at least two cars and all those pocket-handkerchief lawns have been paved and tarmacked to serve as parking lots. Nobody lingers at the gate or even glances over the fence towards a neighbour’s property. Not progress.

    Liked by 4 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the hanging over the fences and talking to neighbours was common in the west. You are right, the cars and tars have swallowed that bit of green. Also, past fences had handy gaps so one could see the neighbours about, or their washing waving friendly around on the line.

      Modern fences are now of metal, and nothing can penetrate those new fences. No glance or movement allowed. Drying of clothes is now inside a rumbling machine, ever so private.

      Private till the end.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Curt Mekemson Says:

    When I lived in a city, Gerard, I confess to not liking leaf blowers. It usually wasn’t the owner out working, however, it was lawn care businesses. They liked to start their days at 7 AM. 🙂 When we owned five acres in Oregon, however, I quickly adjusted to having my own.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Therese Trouserzoff Says:

    Hi Gez and friends.

    My Dad had a sacred lawn. I grew up only a couple of miles away from Gez. This was decades before the emergence of the leaf blower.

    I think the sacred lawn is a natural reaction to the chaos and impotence of a working class urban life.

    Cannot control what happens in the workplace in an economy that could scarcely care less about one ? Can control a few square metres of grass bounded by concrete.

    And curiously the leaf blower is the contemporary link between the two.

    Asian culture (especially in Japan) is deeply rooted in appreciation of the natural world and from a western perspective seems to display a balance between formal rigidity and carefully nurtured imperfection.

    And the peaceful unhurried cultivation of a small parcel of nature is both meditative and aesthetically pleasing.

    But it is also time consuming and in the suburbs we trade noise for time. We want the sacred lawn, but we don’t have the time for a leisurely journey towards one.

    It was in the late 1950s. I remember the zuurp-zuurp sound of Dad mowing the sacred lawn with a push mower. Tough and frustrating labour, the Victa two stroke petrol mower was an inevitable evolution. Dad had the same one for decades. I have one for our 25 square metres of inner city green.

    Unlike Dad, I have many trees … and a leaf-blower. But since we live under Sydney airport’s flight path, nobody would ever be able to discern its sound😊.

    Liked by 3 people

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, Therese,
      I remember those outer suburbs where both of us grew up so close by, yet not knowing each other and yet through life’s chance met up decades later…

      My poor dad struggled with our lawn and the obstinate Victa petrol lawnmower that just would not start no matter how hard or often he pulled on that cord. At one stage it got too much with six children, his wife urging him on to mow the lawn with the notorious disobedient lawn mower and with flies crawling over his red face, dad picked up his screwdriver and started stabbing wildly at the flies, running around quite amok, losing it.

      It had a two-stroke motor where you had to mix petrol and oil to fire up but also to lubricate its little cylinder. They were notorious for not starting, and divorce causing breakups of otherwise normal yet solid marriages. Divorce degree nisi could only be obtained through solid proof of infidelity. Detectives hiding under marital beds offered interesting reading in Newspapers then. Obstinate Victa lawn mowers offered no grounds for divorce.

      I have vivid memories of dad taking the spark plug out and measuring its gap, put it back and pull- start the Victa all over again.

      Those were the days.


      • Therese Trouserzoff Says:

        Indeed they WERE the days, Gez.

        When Dad judged that his first 1959 Victa was too much hard work (he wanted a grass catcher), it came with a new starter mechanism – crank a fold-out spring loaded thing – and whammo – off she went – no more cord to pull.

        I’ve had my Victa for fifteen years. It has a Briggs and Stratton 4 stroke 47cc motor, with an internal cord pull that Dad would have thought too complicated for the simple job of mowing a lawn. Valves and camshaft – Yikes !)

        It went through a period recently of deciding to be difficult to start (dirty air filter), but the wonders of the modern petrochemical industry , I have a can of aerosol magic (ether, actually). Take the top off the air cleaner, quick squirt down the barrel of the carburettor , replace the air cleaner. One pull – ZOOOOM.

        Of course these days they have grass catchers – so no need to rake up the clippings.

        And I see in Bunnings an array of 18 volt lithium ion battery models – perfect for small lawns. Recharge from solar power – just like the grass does 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  5. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Yes, I agree! More time with coffee and chatting! 😉
    Yes, as kids it was rakes and brooms and a push-mower. The only sounds were us kids complaining as we did those chores! HA!!! 😛
    Gardening and landscaping is hard work! Maybe those doing it want the rest of us to notice, so they makes noise! HA! 😀
    (((HUGS))) 🙂 ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  6. shoreacres Says:

    Brooms, push lawn mowers, snow shovels, and lawn sprinklers that had to be moved from spot to spot all had their own delicate and very pleasing sounds. Not only that, you could sit on a front porch and carry on a conversation while someone was mowing or sweeping the walk. Those beastly machines that are so common today drive everyone away; a pox on them all, I say!

    As I think back, one little mystery is the apparent absence of the need to trim grass around curbs and such. There was no such thing as a ‘string trimmer,’ and I don’t remember anyone being upset by excess grass in sidewalk cracks. It might have been that people were less obsessive back then, or more interested in sitting down with a beer or lemonade.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. rangewriter Says:

    You’ve hit on one of my pet peeves. Unnecessary urban noise. We have all those infernal power tools here too. And during the winter, it has become fashionable to buy a gas–powered snow blower which is noisy as hades. And as necessary in most applications, as tits on a boar. We rarely have more than an inch or two of snow accumulation in town. People drive off to their gyms every day for exercise, but eschew the organic exercise of pushing a reel mower, using a hand rake, and shoveling snow with, gasp, a shovel. I don’t get it. Oh, and besides all of that, are the cars rigged with some sort of stupid muffler system that instead of buffering machine noise, amplifies it. I’m gnashing my teeth as I silently strike my keyboard keys.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, the car/bike muffler amplification got me peeved and intrigued.
    The noise from those engines is supposed to be below certain decibels by laws. I wish one could get some electronic devise that at the press of a button the amplified noisy motor vehicle or motor bike would stop running and come to a standstill till a police officer arrives and fine the offenders. The device would be so small it could fit in a handbag or pocket. After a good day one could go to take the gadget to bed under the pillow and activate it if the need arises during the night as well.


  9. Notefull Living Says:

    Our son commented a few years back how quiet our neighborhood was. Then proceeded to answer his own question that people were inside on their screens. He was actually talking about kids. But that applies to adults too. Most of our neighbors hire people. Then there’s us…working hard at our own lawn. Much rather do it myself and all the benefits from gardening and lawn care. Yes, it’s loud from all the companies doing the work, not thr neighbors.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. doesitevenmatter3 Says:

    Stopping by with (((HUGS))) and ❤️ 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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