Pow­er­ing through with new technology

The News (New Glasgow) - - FAITH & COMMUNITY - The Green File Mark Cullen

I have a beef with two-cy­cle gar­den-power equip­ment, es­pe­cially leaf blow­ers and weed whack­ers. In my opin­ion, the noise lev­els and ex­haust fumes of these pow­er­ful ma­chines is ex­ces­sive for the job they do. Their use in the densely pop­u­lated ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment is in­ex­cus­able and un­sus­tain­able.

You will no­tice that the pro­fes­sion­als who use these ma­chines gen­er­ally wear hear­ing pro­tec­tion. But what about the passerby? Or the per­son try­ing to read the pa­per on their front porch while the blower/whacker user strolls by, head down, dust and de­bris sent sky-high. You will also no­tice that dogs are never in sight when these ma­chines are in use. Maybe they are smarter than peo­ple.

Many peo­ple read­ing this will agree with me and oth­ers have moved on al­ready and don’t re­ally care. So, what? I am pre­pared to take a com­pro­mise po­si­tion on this sub­ject. Not that I have changed, but technology has.

We now have rea­son­able and prac­ti­cal alternatives to the twocy­cle gas power en­gine.

1. Lithium Ion. New recharge­able bat­ter­ies are chang­ing the way we main­tain our gar­dens. A few years ago, when recharge­able bat­ter­ies were first in­tro­duced, they had a rep­u­ta­tion for not hold­ing a charge for very long. Through the mir­a­cle of mod­ern science and in­no­va­tion we can fi­nally turn down the vol­ume and get the job done with­out mak­ing the whole neigh­bour­hood go in­doors. Lithium Ion bat­ter­ies last longer and can be recharged many more times than the bat­ter­ies of just a few years ago.

2. More power. You can now buy a chain saw driven by a lithium ion recharge­able bat­tery. I am told that they work quite well, though not for the sea­soned forestry pro­fes­sional. That they ex­ist and are rated quite highly tells me that we are mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion.

3. Less en­ergy needed. A lithium ion recharge­able bat­tery costs a few nick­els to recharge and will hold many more charges than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion of recharge­ables. There is no oil to mix with gas and fewer mov­ing parts. Main­te­nance is less costly.

I am not so naïve to think that gar­den power equip­ment is go­ing away any time soon. Which is why I am tak­ing this com­pro­mise po­si­tion on the is­sue. If you prom­ise to re­place your whiney twocy­cle ma­chines with new, cleaner, qui­eter technology, I prom­ise to stop belly aching.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that many pro­fes­sional land­scape main­te­nance pro­fes­sion­als are now us­ing recharge­ables. A re­cent ar­ti­cle in trade mag­a­zine Land­scape Trades fea­tured In­ter­na­tional Land­scap­ing, a land­scap­ing com­pany that has con­verted all their lawn and gar­den power equip­ment to recharge­ables.

We can­not talk about re­plac­ing the nois­i­est cul­prits in the neigh­bour­hood with­out also talk­ing about the quiet ones. I don’t own a leaf blower but I own sev­eral rakes. And my ‘gar­den’ is 10 acres. Chances are, I spend marginally more time rak­ing up leaves and dump­ing them in the com­post come fall, than I would if I used a two-cy­cle ma­chine. But the point is, when I do it, I don’t drive ev­ery­one in the house and neigh­bour­hood mad. Be­sides, I en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence of rak­ing.

And fi­nally, should there ever be a Royal Com­mis­sion or if your lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity strikes a com­mit­tee to look at the is­sue, here are my two cents worth:

Con­sider lim­it­ing the use of two-cy­cle ma­chines to cer­tain hours of the day.

Make sure noise lev­els are no greater than those al­lowed when I ap­ply for a party per­mit for a street party. The deci­bels are out­lined in the per­mit, gen­er­ally, why not when a home owner or con­trac­tor uses a ma­chine?

If a home owner in­sists that they need a two-cy­cle ma­chine to do the work, have them ap­ply for a per­mit, com­plete with lim­i­ta­tions and reg­u­la­tions. Use the money col­lected to plant more street trees.

Choose a day when no one can use one of these ma­chines. Fri­day? Satur­day? Sun­day? I don’t re­ally care… but I would plan my re­lax­ing time in the yard around the rule. Mark Cullen is lawn and gar­den ex­pert for Home Hard­ware, mem­ber of the Or­der of Canada, au­thor and broad­caster. Get his free monthly news­let­ter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, “The New Canadian Gar­den,” pub­lished by Dun­durn Press. Fol­low him on Twit­ter, @MarkCullen4, and Face­book.

SUB­MIT­TED

Au­thor Mark Cullen isn’t about to trade in his leaf rake for a noisy leaf blower any time soon.

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