ZAP members have often heard, I cant tell my gardener how
to do his job!. Why not? Employers are obligated to see that laws
Most employers instruct employees how they want a job done to some extent.
They explain their needs, and set forth what they expect of independent
contractors hired to do a job.
Yet, it appears that, when hiring new gardeners, most residential employers
ask only what the monthly fee will be, and what day of the week the work
will be done. No automatic pay increases, no idea of how long the work
will take on each visit, what specific chores are included in the initial
price, or whether extra or additional seasonal work is included.
What is your gardeners actual hourly wage? He or she also must
take into consideration the costs of running their business and the fact
that there is dead time traveling between jobs. Raking instead
of blowing is just one of these considerations. One that is not difficult
or costly to comply with.
Give him this www.zapla.org website address
and a printout of libraries in
his (or your) neighborhood, that offer free computer access and instruction.
personal. Its business. Your instructions are not requests.
They are orders.
||Be clear. Dont
use a leafblower on this property. Dont use water just to hose
down sidewalks and the driveway. Use rakes and brooms.
If you meet resistance, just think to yourself, I pay you, and
you work for me.
Initiate a conversation and listen to the other side with a mind open
to finding alternative ways to solve their problems, not by backing
down and allowing the use of blowers. Ask for ways you can make their
new job description easier by changing landscape, the environment,
or expectations of what is a good enough job. See below
for other specifics.
Be polite, but firm. Repeat your orders at the end of the conversation
and get a confirmation that your worker agrees to whatever new terms
you have worked out together.
|Educate your Gardener.
||Explain local laws. Gas Blowers
are illegal near homes because they are not healthy. You can be fined,
and I can be fined. It bothers me and it bothers my neighbors.
If they say they are using another fuel, read more on this site in
Debate and the Methanol
If necessary, explain how their blower use affects you. It smells
bad, it makes your car dirty and your furniture dusty, it makes you
nervous, creates a cough or requires you to take allergy medication.
Show some frustration about the situation the dirty air and
Refer them to good gardening practices and specific expert advice.
If they are ignoring the Los Angeles ordinance, give them a copy of
it, the press release from Councilmember Miscikowski, and the letter
from the City Attorneys Office, all of which are found on this
site. (Refer to the City
Attorneys Office Letter and the Councilmember
the Los Angeles Ordinance
|Use alternative methods to
collect leaves and debris, instruct workers not to use blowers, or
hire workers who do not use Blowers.
||RAKES AND BROOMS: These may not
take more time as compared to the time spent gathering leaves, dust
and debris by blower. Especially if the appropriate size and shape
are used for each job. For instance, narrow, light rakes in some cases.
Wide and/or heavy rakes in others. Both regular brooms and push brooms.
MULCHING MOWERS: These will reduce debris from 10 bags
to 1 bag for your compost or the landfill. Some push short grass clippings
back into the lawn. If they have a catch-bag, there will be fewer
grass clippings to sweep off of the sidewalk.
These machines are specifically designed to gather up leaves, dirt
Hosing down with water, if used at all, should be considered only
for the final removal of dust, if the water will flow back into a
garden or lawn. All larger debris should first be removed by combination
of rake, then broom.
IF YOU MUST use blowers:
ELECTRIC LEAF-BLOWER/VACUUM COMBINATION:
Some blowers (even gas models) also will vacuum. Or, use a shop
vac for dirt, dust and small debris after raking or blowing
large leaves. This will not only cut down on emission air pollution,
but also on fugitive dust air pollution.
The noise will probably be lower than gas blowers. An electric motor
may be soundless, but the air velocity it creates may register as
much as 65 dB or more. This is not the aggravating whine of a two-stroke
gas engine, however, and may be easier to cope with. Motors may run
on rechargeable batteries.
Some newer models, or those in development, offer an assortment of
tools attachable to the same electric motor.
|Search out these alternatives.
||Find distributors of the above suggested
machines through local lawn and garden supply or repair shops. They
also may be listed as Garden and Lawn supplies in the Yellow Pages
Sometimes individual products are targeted to specific locations or
climate zones. Go to various manufacturers web sites to see
all of their products and to find distributors.
Remember, any single store will want to sell from their own inventory.
Their representatives may demean the alternative products you seek
out. One salesperson insisted to a ZAP member that there were no bans
or restrictions on gas blowers in Los Angeles, and made untrue allegations
to back up his claim. These were loosely based on year-old newspaper
|Watch work procedures for
time-consuming bad habits.
|Most clean-up time is spent on gathering-up
grass clippings, dirt, dust and small bits and pieces, which could
be swept aside, or even back onto the grass or into bedding areas.
If your worker is diligent and responsible, give constructive instructions
for making work on your own property easier. If they spend several
minutes blowing just a few leaves all the way down your driveway,
suggest they just leave them. If theyre trying to blow damp
leaves or flower petals, suggest they rake.
If the worker is incompetent or puts you in jeopardy of being fined
for a leaf blower ban violation, get another gardening service.
|Pass on Gardening Tips.
See specific advice
|Gardeners come with all levels of knowledge
and experience. Many are concerned only with clean up, and are not
aware of the damage their work habits can cause.
Gardening experts do not recommend blowers. They dry out the earth,
deplete minerals, blow off rich topsoil, and remove leaves and other
potential mulching materials.
Leaves should be left to mulch in bedding plants and other areas from
fall through spring.
|Establish Reasonable Expectations
for yourself and your Worker.
Besides his own pride of doing a good job, he may believe
you consider a good job to mean that every speck of dust
is removed from every bit of hardscape each and every week.
|Suggest alternatives and express more
Your patio doesnt need to be as clean as your kitchen floor
when their work is done just reasonably clear of leaves and
debris. Perhaps this is true only part of the year.
|Check the decibel level of
all machines used on your property.
||Newer blowers show decibel levels on
a sticker. Older machines may become noiser than the original sticker
Los Angeles Noise Regulation Section 112.05(c) states that powered
equipment intended for repetitive use in or within 500 feet of a residential
zone shall not exceed 65 decibles at a distance of 50 feet. This specifies
lawn mowers, backpack blowers, small lawn and garden tools.
Download Word Document "L.A.LAW.doc"
|Discuss the workload and
fee schedule with your worker in a manner that is non-threatening.
||Workers have been given an inflated
estimate of how much more time their work would take without the use
Ask what things slow down the work, what things must be done weekly,
what can be done every other week or monthly.
Can edging be done less frequently? Gas edgers use the same 2-stroke
engine as gas blowers, with the same emissions and noise.
Have you ever offered a raise? Have you ever been asked for a raise?
How long have you been paying the same rate, and is it still fair?
Gardeners have been led to believe that they will be fired if they
ask for an increase in pay. Many seem fearful of even making suggestions
that might balance out the workload.
|Help your worker find the
actual increase, if any, in work time without a blower.
Compare new work practices with those he uses now.
|See the Debate section to prepare yourself
for an automatic response regarding the supposed difference
in work time or possible increase of fees if a blower is not used.
See the results of timed tests conducted by the Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Workers who really have no idea of the differences will throw out
a figure they have read in news articles or heard from others. It
is likely to be far higher than the actual differences on your own
Time the gathering of leaves, grass clippings, dust and debris with
a blower one week, and with rake and broom the next, working at the
same pace and clearing the same amount of leaves and debris.
How much gathering is done on landscape, compared with the amount
done on hardscape? Perhaps some paths and the driveway can be cleared
less meticulously or less often.
If warranted, pay more. It might be an increase of only a few dollars
per month! Or, adjust expectations.