Choose green yard practices. While tidy yards and gardens may be pleasant, the noise from your leaf blower can end up disturbing those around you. Let’s all be considerate of our neighbours. Learn about the rules for using your leaf blower and avoid using before 8 a.m. or after 7 p.m. on weekdays. Power device noise is permitted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays

You can also keep your yard clean without using your leaf blower. If you do have to use a leaf blower, consider using green technologies such as push mowers and taking steps to reduce the noise and other impacts from your device.

Turn fall leaves into fuel for your lawn and garden

Compost your leaves whenever possible; they are great sources of nutrients for lawns and gardens. Here are two ways to use leaves to feed your yard:

  • Use your lawn mower to mulch leaves on the lawn; this will improve your lawn health by suppressing weeds and fertilizing the soil.
  • Rake leaves directly into your garden beds; they will protect your plants and soil over winter, serving as a layer of insulation for your garden. As the leaves decompose, they will add nutrients and promote microorganism health.
Can’t leave the leaves where they fall? Here’s some other tips to collect leaves:
  • Rake leaves and use a tarp to collect leaves.
  • Add leaves to your backyard composter.
  • Make leaf mold; the easiest way to make leaf mold is to just rake your leaves into a big pile and let the pile sit there to decompose for a few seasons. Leaf mold can be added to your garden beds.

Remember to:

  • Rake leaves out of sewers and drainage pathways.
  • Use natural landscaping to limit area that needs to be manicured but keep gardens free of prohibited plants that can pose a threat to human health or natural areas.

Leaves provide important overwintering habitat for pollinators

You may have seen “leave the leaves” campaigns through the fall, encouraging you to ditch the fall garden clean-up. Why? Allowing your garden to stand for the winter provides essential habitat for pollinating insects to overwinter.

Native pollinator species in Toronto need plant litter such as fallen leaves, dead hollow stems and logs to nest and survive the cold. Leaf litter is where many species of butterflies and moths overwinter as pupae or adults. Queen bumblebees overwinter by digging a small hole in the ground beneath leaf litter. By removing leaves, we could be removing important wintering habitats for native wildlife.

When spring arrives, many of us get anxious to get our gardens in shape for the growing season to come. But when those first warm days arrive before May, do not reach for your rake (or leaf blower).

Cleaning up your garden too early will harm nesting pollinators. Although it can be hard to wait, it is best to not partake in any garden clean-up for as long as possible in the spring. The earliest to start tidying is once the weather has consistently been above 10 degrees for at least a week.

In early spring, insects are still in diapause. This is a resting state like hibernation. The insects will not be moving and need to be left alone until it is warm enough to emerge on their own.

Want to learn more about protecting pollinators? The City’s Pollinator Protection Strategy aims to enhance and protect habitat in natural and urbanized areas. Get a grant for your pollinator garden from PollinateTO and check out our additional tips for creating a pollinator-friendly garden.

If you do need to use a leaf blower, consider switching to greener technologies to reduce the impacts of your leaf blower usage.

  • If possible, use an electric and battery-powered blower.
  • Look for newer equipment if possible, as a newer leaf blower is required to emit fewer pollutants.
  • Each piece of equipment should have an approved evaporative emissions label.

If you do have to use a leaf blower, there are steps you can take to reduce the impacts on your neighbours:

  • Routinely check your leaf blower, especially the muffler, air intake and air filters, to make sure everything is working properly. Never modify blowers; use only as factory directed.
  • Stay as far away as possible from people or pets.
  • Speak with neighbors about best hours for usage and avoid using your leaf blower too early or too late.
  • When using a leaf blower, start on the edges of your yard. Blow away for your neighbours’ properties and streets.
  • Pay attention and do not point the nozzle or blow debris toward people, pets, vehicles, or windows or doors.
  • Keep the nozzle of your leaf blower pointed down to reduce spraying dust. Wet down dusty areas before using a leaf blower.
  • Use a vacuum or power broom with water to clean up construction dust, plaster dust, gravel or gravel dust, plaster, cement, concrete dust, or dry topsoil. Do not use your leaf blower.

You can reduce noise from your leaf blower by adopting the following practices:

  • Choose a blower that can operate at 65 decibels (dBA) or below. A leaf blower with 65 dBA still provides the power needed to care for most residential yards, but is quieter than the more high-powered equipment.
  • Use the nozzle equipment of your leaf blower as that can help muffle sound.
  • Limit the number of leaf blowers in a small area as using multiple leaf blowers amplifies noise.

Before using a leaf blower, please familiarize yourself with the rules for power device use so that your device does not disturb your neighbours. Power devices include equipment used in the maintenance of lawns, including leaf blowers, lawnmowers, grass trimmers, chainsaws, or any other similar equipment.

Noise Bylaw

Avoid using your leaf blower too early or too late in the day and let your neighbours sleep in on weekends and holidays. Powered devices can be used from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays. Power devices are also permitted from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. These rules do not apply to snow removal devices or devices used to maintain golf courses, public parks or any City operations, including services contracted by the City. Learn more about the rules for power devices in the Noise Bylaw.

Use of Streets and Sidewalk Bylaw

Help keep our sidewalks clean by not blowing leaves and lawn clipping onto sidewalks and roads. Learn more about the regulations in the Use of Streets and Sidewalk Bylaw.

What to do if rules are not followed

If you have concerns about leaf blower noise and leaves and debris being blown onto roads and sidewalks, consider speaking with those responsible to give them an opportunity to correct the issue. If this approach does not work, call 311 or submit a complaint online.

Complaints about noise during permitted hours

On a temporary basis, complaints about power device noise during permitted hours in the Noise Bylaw can be sent to and will be analyzed to identify patterns and trends and to help inform future policy initiatives. The complaints will not be investigated on a case-by-case basis. It is important to provide as many specific details as possible about the noise, including its time and location, as well as the type of equipment being used.

On July 19, 2023, City Council discussed the staff report Two-Stroke Engine Small Equipment: Steps to Pursue a Ban and expressed support for a ban on the use of two-stroke small engine equipment in Toronto as a precaution against any adverse impacts to human health and climate. The City was directed to conduct consultations and identify the resources required to develop and implement the ban. A staff report is expected at the Infrastructure and Environment Committee in 2024.