Green Gardens

Dear Palisades resident,


In California, gas-powered landscaping equipment – from mowers and blowers to trimmers – is releasing as much or more smog into our air as all the millions of cars on  California roads. What’s worse is that these machines produce compounds that linger at ground-level long after they have stopped operating – including droplets of benzene, butadiene, and formaldehyde – which studies have found on the surfaces of everything from our playgrounds to the interior surfaces of our homes.


In addition to the health risks this equipment is posing to gardeners and residents, the climate-changing potential is also too big to ignore.  Switching from gas-powered blowers and mowers to rakes and zero-emission alternatives can reduce your family’s carbon footprint far more than purchasing an electric vehicle or other behavioral-changes. 


Fortunately, there are easy and practical solutions we can all adopt to help create a safer and healthier working and living community while lowering our collective global-warming footprint. You hold the power to do so…for your family, your gardener, your neighbors…and our planet.


Just as we’re seeing more electric vehicles on the road, the technology in zero-emissions landscaping equipment has also vastly improved over recent years. But adoption of newer technologies is often met with skepticism and financial barriers. 


Resilient Palisades is collaborating with a zero-emissions landscaping expert Dan Mabe – the founder of the nationally recognized zero-emissions landscaping leader AGZA who’s partnering with the Southern California Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) – to help guide homeowners towards the newest and best zero-emissions landscaping technologies on the market. Collectively, we will provide you with everything you’ll need to make the shift, from talking points to speak with your gardeners about using the least amount of power possible (rakes included) to free in-home training and rebates of up to 75% off new commercial-grade equipment from authorized dealers. 


We are here to provide you with the latest findings, empower you with solutions, and support your shift to a zero-emission garden by reducing barriers for you and your gardener.

A Doctor’s Perspective

We all know that leaf blowers, especially the gas powered variety, are obnoxiously loud, utterly stinky, and irritating to the eyes. Much more important than those nuisances, gas powered leaf blowers and lawn equipment are harmful to our health, both in the short and long term. The fumes this equipment emits have been linked to human health harms such as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, asthma, cancer, miscarriage, birth defects, and premature birth. Gas powered lawn equipment contributes significantly to air pollution and climate change. Blowers aerosolize and spread infectious organisms and toxins – think animal feces, fungal spores, viruses, and chemicals on the street from motor vehicles  – all of which cause disease and death in humans. Blowing the soil in your yard disrupts the soil microbiome and insect life.
So please, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and consider these alternatives:
1. Leave organic matter on the ground to give nutrients back to the soil, as is the natural cycle.
2. Consider using a rake or broom instead of a blower if removal of leaves and organic matter is desired or needed.
3. If you feel it is necessary to use a blower, use an electric one and only intermittently when absolutely necessary, not simply out of habit.
The more people who make the change from gas powered lawn equipment to a rake, broom, or electric devices, the more of us will be able to live healthier, happier lives.
Karina Maher, MD


hover over text for links

American Green Zone Alliance, AGZA: Including free at-home gardener training program

California Air Resources Board Zero-Emissions Landscaping Equipment Program

Guide to purchasing the right zero-emissions landscaping equipment for your garden

Leafblowers contributing to ‘insect armageddon’ and should be avoided

Commercial and Residential Rebates

2015 EPA Study: National Emissions from Lawn and Garden Equipment


  • Gas-powered gardening equipment used routinely around residential neighborhoods, schools, parks, and other public spaces – leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and hedge trimmers – are creating a whopping 43% of our country’s volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 50% of our fine particulate matter (EPA, 2015).

  • In 2017, the California Air Resources Board issued a warning that by 2020, gas-powered leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and similar equipment in California will produce more ozone pollution than all the millions of cars in California combined. (CARB, 2017).

  • Gas blower vs Toyota Camry – One hour of even the best-selling commercial gas-powered leaf blower emits the same smog-forming pollution as driving a 2016 Toyota Camry about 1100 miles, or approximately the distance from Los Angeles to Denver. The difference is that all of this pollution is being dumped into a single backyard in practically every home in Pacific Palisades. (CARB, 2017).

  • Gas vs Electric (and raking) – Switching to electric yard equipment and raking reduces your family’s carbon footprint, does not emit harmful pollutants into the air we breathe, helps create a quieter community, and is safer and cheaper to operate than gas-guzzling technologies. (NPR, 2017)

  • Why are gas powered blowers so egregious compared to other gas powered gardening equipment? The real problem is their archaic technology. Cars are constantly improved for efficiency. Gas blowers are using the same heavily-polluting two- and four-stroke engine technology from decades ago. (Michigan State University, no date)

  • Fuel Spills – Hundreds of incidental fuel spills happen every week during the refueling of gas-powered lawn equipment, poisoning our neighborhoods, the Santa Monica Bay, and our groundwater. (EPA, 1996)

  • Gas-powered blowers produce nitrogen oxides. Nitrogen oxides can create environmental health hazards when they react with sunlight and other chemicals to form ozone and smog, including respiratory damage. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide react with substances in the atmosphere to form acid rain. (CDC, 2002)

  • VOC’s that linger at ground-level – including benzene, butadiene and formaldehyde – combined with particulate matter together cause or contribute to early death, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer. (footnote 1-5 from EPA study)