In a town where lawns often resemble the 18th fairway at Augusta and driveways rival the Champs-Elysees, the pursuit of perfection could get a lot harder.
Greenwich recently drafted a proposed municipal ordinance banning leaf blowers between April 15 and Oct. 15, at the request of a local environmental group.
The yet-to-be-voted-on ban is already encountering resistance from landscapers, who complained that the restriction would pose a hardship for their businesses and drive up costs for them and their customers.
"It's all about expectations of clients," said Scott Fawcett, branch manager for Hoffman Landscapes in Stamford. "The expectations of our clients in Greenwich is that there is no dust."
A number of other cities and towns, including Rye, N.Y., Boulder, Colo., and Palo Alto, Calif., have adopted similar bans.
If such a restriction were in place in Greenwich, Fawcett said landscapers wouldn't stand a chance to keep up with all the changes of spring.
"The pollen that has been dropping for the last couple of weeks, could you imagine having to go to some of these estates in Greenwich and having to hand-sweep them?" Fawcett said.
Supporters of the ban, which will be debated at a June 28 forum co-sponsored by the town and the League of Women Voters of Greenwich, say that it's time for residents to reconsider their priorities.
"I think we're going to have to revamp our thinking about keeping driveways spick and span," said Gretchen Biggs, a Maher Avenue resident and founder of Citizens Against Leafblower Mania or CALM.
The town amended its noise ordinance in the mid-1990s to include gasoline-powered leaf blowers, restricting their use between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. weekdays and between 3 p.m. and 9 a.m. on weekends and holidays.
Only one gas-powered leaf blower can be used at a time on residential and commercial properties a quarter of an acre or less under the ordinance. Violators face a $100 fine per offense.
Bigg's position is that the existing regulations are a "joke" and that leaf blowers contribute to hearing loss, asthma, allergies, high blood pressure, pollution, storm drain obstructions, soil problems and hazards to animals, plants and insects.
"Whether or not it takes longer to do it with a hose or a broom really isn't the issue," Biggs said of landscape work. "I think that's a trade-off that we're going to have to make when we understand the health impacts. It's just not worth it."
The proposed ban would apply to both gas-powered and electric leaf blowers.
"Are they noisy and obnoxious? Absolutely," Fawcett said. "A lot of it is just etiquette."
First Selectman Peter Tesei said the feedback he has received since the topic came up last month has been split, with some residents characterizing the proposed ban as an intrusion on their right to maintain their yards, and others saying it is high time that the town addressed the nuisance.
"I want to find out first how well the existing ordinance is being enforced," Tesei said. "The more I thought about it, it's only going to be effective if it can be properly enforced."
On a parallel course, Tesei said the Board of Health, which would be responsible for amending the existing ordinance, created a subcommittee to examine the issue of leaf blowers.
A new ordinance would require the approval of the Board of Selectmen and the Representative Town Meeting.
"Their most recent history has been that they've taken time with new ordinances," Tesei said of the RTM.
Fawcett warned that the restrictions could have negative consequences.
His company's landscapers typically use leaf blowers to disperse clumps of fresh grass clippings on lawns.
"You might end up getting more lawn mower noise," Fawcett said.
Biggs said that there is a simple solution to manicuring fresh-cut lawns, however.
"They can use a rake," Biggs said. "The grass clippings ought to be left on the grass anyway because they're good sources of nitrogen."
Fawcett argued that for businesses that do landscape design in addition to yard maintenance, the leaf blower is an essential tool for dispersing dust from freshly-cut blue stone for patios.
"We have no way of getting that off the car without using a blower," Fawcett said. "If we tried to sweep that off we just be scratching the dickens out of the car."
Biggs said that the state of Hawaii and the nation of Israel have imposed leaf blower bans.
"If an entire state and an entire country can do it, it shouldn't be hard for Greenwich to do for part of the year," Biggs said. "We'd all be healthier."
Fawcett said tell that to his clients.
"I have a number of clients where they have zero tolerance," Fawcett said. "When they come home from New York on a Friday night, it better be looking good."