CH resident offers tips on low-impact leaf cleanup

Fall leaves add color to landscapes and nutrients to the soil at this Cleveland Heights home. [photo: Fadi Kdayssi]

In the fall, Heights neighborhoods fill with noise, dust, and invisible toxic emissions as crews or residents use gas-powered equipment in an attempt to remove every fallen leaf.

Some residents, however, are finding ways to reduce carbon emissions and noise, in keeping with the city of Cleveland Heights' commitment to climate action.

Fadi Kdayssi owns an historic home on nearly one acre, set 100 feet back from Fairmount Boulevard. Mature oaks buffer the home from weather and traffic noise. Its brick walls are two-feet thick, with triple-layer windows set in stone trim. Yet, even with windows closed, leaf-blower noise intrudes from hundreds of feet away.

Kdayssi’s professional expertise in sound and video recording may make him especially sensitive, but the sound of two-stroke gas leaf blowers is both high decibel and low frequency—qualities that make sound more penetrating, over longer distances.

A hands-on property owner, Kdayssi strives to limit the effects of noise and pollution on his serene, park-like property. He’s used a super-quiet electric leaf blower since 2014 to clear his long drive and walkways. He does his own leaf cleanup in sections, using an electric blower, tarps and rakes for efficient collection with minimal blowing. Kdayssi claims his corded Toro Power Jet is quiet enough to use without hearing protection. He’s currently searching for an electric mower compatible with the batteries and chargers used in his other equipment.

For smaller yards, capable and affordable battery-powered mowers and blowers are easy to find. Kdayssi notes that corded models are a good zero-emissions option if a home has well-placed outdoor outlets.

Homeowners who hire professional lawn-care services can ask for quieter, cleaner options that also protect the health of the workers.

Transitioning to electric tools is just one aspect of sustainable lawn care. The American Green Zone Alliance ( provides training and certification in low-impact lawn care for companies and institutions.

Another organization,, offer practical advice for homeowners. For example, rather than being blown off a lawn prior to mowing, fallen leaves can be mulch-mowed in place—requiring one pass only, and less time, fuel, and noise. Mulch mowing adds protective soil cover and organic matter to the lawn. Fall leaves can also be collected with mower bag attachments, lawn sweepers, or with rakes and tarps, and placed under trees and in beds as mulch.

How can homeowners maintain lawns and collect leaves with less noise and pollution? To consider this question, Quiet Clean Heights and the University Heights Green Team are planning a November forum. Attendees will be invited to share their tips and tricks for managing autumn leaves. For more information and updates—including the still-to-be-determined forum date—visit, or send an e-mail to

Alice Jeresko

Alice Jeresko is an environmental advocate who started Quiet Clean Heights to help raise awareness of the health, hearing and environmental impacts of gas leaf blowers in residential neighborhoods.

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Volume 16, Issue 10, Posted 10:06 AM, 09.29.2023