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A quieter Preserve with battery-powered equipment



Click on the video above to see and hear the difference between gas-powered

and battery-powered gardening equipment.


What a powerful video! The Preserve has been using a wide range of battery-operated equipment for years, with Asticou Azalea Garden leading the way. Battery-powered leaf blowers have made a significant entry into the Preserve’s equipment inventory, starting last year.  


This transition not only benefits our staff but also contributes to our commitment to a more sustainable and quieter gardening environment. 


Mowers 

The Asticou Azalea Garden bought its first battery-powered lawn mower, a Neutron Mower, in 2009 when battery-powered options were limited in the marketplace. The quieter aspect of this equipment was seen as a necessity in an intimate garden which is open seven days a week from dawn to dusk.  

This season, the lawns at all three gardens will be mowed with battery-powered lawn mowers and string trimmers. Although they do not all share the same equipment brand, the staff say the same things:  

“Quieter!”  

“Less maintenance!” 

“No off-site trips for mixed gas!” 

“It works just the same as gas-powered!”  


Chainsaws 

Across the Preserve staff are also using small battery-powered chainsaws. These saws are great for small cutting jobs. They are easy to start and quieter. You also leave a job not smelling like mixed gas, a huge benefit for those who have spent years using gas-powered equipment close to our bodies.  


Leaf blowers 

With the support of Preserve leadership and wonderful donors, the garden staff have stepped up their game by replacing gas-powered leaf blowers as they have previously with their lawnmowers, string trimmers, and small chainsaws. Over the past five years, I have seen this change be a staff-led process. They wanted to make the switch. Especially as more comparable equipment has come on the market, staff are clear they want quieter, easy-to-use equipment. 


When the equipment needs to be run longer than a battery can handle, we often switch the used battery to a charged one. We typically buy a backup battery when we buy the equipment, so at least one additional set of batteries is on hand.  


Thuya Garden and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden will use battery-powered backpack leaf blowers this summer. As you can hear in the video, they are noticeably quieter, which is a significant improvement for our human and wildlife neighbors. Equally important, it enhances the working conditions for our staff, ensuring their health and comfort while operating the equipment.  

Gas-powered leaf blowers still provide higher efficiencies for the larger spring and fall debris clean-up that makes our moss carpets shine. However, the battery-powered leaf blowers are effective for daily and weekly maintenance during our open garden season.  


We plan to test higher-powered commercial-grade battery-powered options this year and next as we work toward a full phase-out of gas-powered blowers, even for spring and fall work. The possibilities for battery-powered leaf blowers are rapidly evolving, making this the perfect time to tackle this shift. 

As Erin said in the video, battery-powered equipment is lighter than gas-powered equipment, but do not be surprised to still be still exhausted after using one for a few hours (or all day) because, in most cases, it is lighter by just a pound or so.  


When shopping for a battery-powered blower, check the combined weight of the unit and battery(s). Some manufacturers will tell you the unit weight is separate from the battery weight. This means you must add the unit and battery weights together to get the total weight. Tricky. 


It is exciting to see such rapidly evolving technologies in battery-powered equipment. From my experience at the Preserve and at my home, once you make the switch to battery-powered equipment, you will never go back. 



Video by Nikolai Fox

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