Lawn mower noise pollution. Noise Control

Why Leaf Blower Bans Are On the Rise

Michele C. Hollow is a journalist that specializes in climate and health. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

Leaf blowers are increasingly controversial. Here is the latest on the leaf blower bans that are popping up across the country.

Those who hate the loud, high-pitched, irritating noise call them “the lazy man’s rake” and “the devil’s hairdryer.” Critics compare the sounds of leaf blowers to jumbo jets at liftoff.

The noise is so unwelcome that more than 100 cities across the country including ones in CO, IL, MA, NJ, NY, TX, and VT imposed complete or partial bans on leaf blowers. Governor Gavin Newsom of California recently signed a bill that will phase out gas-powered leaf blowers and other gas-powered lawn equipment. The majority of these bans FOCUS on gas-powered leaf blowers.

In Seattle, WA, it’s illegal to use any leaf blowers (gas, electric, or battery-operated) that’s louder than 65 decibels before 7 a.m. and after 7 p.m.

In Maplewood, NJ, a partial ban is in place. The town’s ordinance limits the use of leaf blowers between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Residents can’t operate leaf blowers on Sundays.

Comparing Leaf Blower Ordinances

  • Monday – Friday: Allowed from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
  • Saturday: Allowed from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Leaf blower use not permitted on Sundays
  • Commercial entities prohibited from gas-powered leaf blowers from May 15th – Sept 30th
  • Monday – Friday: Allowed from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m
  • Weekends and Legal Holidays: Allowed from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m

Many don’t take kindly to those ignoring the rules. In Maplewood, a neighbor called the cops on a young man blowing leaves from his lawn into the street after 8 p.m. The mom of the young man posted her disdain in a local chatroom saying she wasn’t aware of the ordinance and asked, “Why didn’t you just tell him to turn it off?”

While most people agreed it wasn’t neighborly to call the police, one person responded with “Leaf blowing is not permitted at that time of night. We all benefit from societal living, which includes the laws that govern our community. In this case, the leaf blower ordinance exists to reduce noise pollution.” Many in the chatroom agreed.

In Newton, MA, “one woman made it her mission to have them (leaf blowers) removed from town,” Joshua Milne, a former resident of Newton, said. “This is an upper-class town in Massachusetts and some people have nothing better to do than complain to the city about leaf blowers.”

Newton banned all gas-powered leaf blowers from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Electric and battery-powered leaf blowers are permitted Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Milne moved to a neighboring town, not because of the leaf blower ban. He lives in Waltham, a town that allows leaf blowers. “I have a lawn service mow my yard and rake the leaves,” he said. “I did it because the company was already mowing the lawns on the houses on either side of us, so I think they gave us a deal. They use a gas-powered leaf blower.”

“It’s frustrating that residents get all worked up about leaf blowers. I can understand that the noise level could be frustrating, but the landscapers or homeowners need an easy way to move the leaves off the yards. Before I had a landscaper, I would rake for two days and bag around 40 bags of leaves.”


Gas powered versus our health

The American Lung Association recommends electric leaf blowers over gas-powered ones because “old two-stroke engines like lawnmowers and leaf or snow blowers often have no pollution control devices. They can pollute the air even more than cars, though engines sold since 2011 are cleaner.”

According to a study from Washington University, in addition to air pollution, when heat and sunlight react with nitrogen oxides and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitted from combustion engines—such as gas-powered leaf blowers—ozone becomes a problem.

Washington University is located in St. Louis, which is one of the top-ranked areas for ozone and particle pollution. That’s a problem because according to the Clean Air Partnership, in the summer ozone levels exceed federal-based health standards every year since the passage of the Clean Air Act. A small action like finding alternatives to gas-powered leaf blowers is highly recommended.

The National Audubon Society posted on its website that people committed to their manicured lawns can use electric and battery-operated leaf blowers because they are quieter, greener, and healthier than gas-powered ones.

Protecting biodiversity

Electric- and battery-operated blowers don’t get a pass because of the damage to biodiversity. Leaves on the ground cover and protect insects and their egg sacs. All leaf blowers remove that layer of protection, which is essential to bugs, birds, and other wildlife.

Bumblebees, for instance, burrow underground. The leaves provide warmth in the winter. Spiders, worms, beetles, millipedes, and other insects under that layer of leaves are food sources for chipmunks, birds, and amphibians.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation believes the best thing we can do regarding lawn maintenance is to leave a layer of leaves on the ground to provide protection to pollinators and other invertebrates. That thin layer of mowed and/or mulched leaves puts nutrients back into the soil. If you do this, make sure it’s a thin layer; too many leaves kills the grass.

In addition, adding a handful or two of leaves to your compost protects hibernating insects and deters scavenger animals from the food in your compost. The Xerces Society recommends placing whole leaves rather than mulched ones because it offers a better layer of protection.

Noise levels

Gas-powered leaf blowers are the nosiest at 80 to 90 decibels. Electric models are a bit quieter with a decibel range between 65 and 70. A few new models of electric leaf blowers come in at 59 decibels. Ryobi makes one.

It comes down to size and cost

Old-fashioned rakes are ideal for small yards. They pose no health, noise, or pollution problems.

Many people with large yards either hire lawn companies that use either gas-powered or electric leaf blowers because raking takes time, and the more time an outside service works on a yard, the more money it costs. A number of leaf blower companies charge by the hour.

Raking and using push mowers that require no gas or electricity, adding leaves to a compost, and leaving a layer of leaves as ground cover are healthy options for you, your lawn, and our planet.

Michele C. Hollow

Michele C. Hollow writes about pets, climate, and health. She’s a long-time animal lover who cares deeply about the environment and sustainability. As a kid, Michele took zoology courses at the Bronx Zoological Society. She still enjoys learning about and spending time with animals. Birding is her newest hobby. Her byline has appeared in The New York Times, GoodRX, Parents, AARP, The Guardian, and other publications. She’s a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. You can connect with her on at @michelechollow.

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Noise Control

Just as litter degrades the landscape of the community, noise degrades the soundscape. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Surveys of Neighborhood Problems, conducted over the past three decades, has consistently placed noise among the top four issues of concern. Noise can interfere with normal residential and business activities. Persistent exposure can result in psychological stress and, at high enough levels, it can damage hearing.

What Constitutes a Noise Disturbance?

Noise events may occur at random.- on occasions when a code enforcement officer with a sound level meter is not available. For those occasions, County law has a provision establishing a noise disturbance violation. The noise disturbance criteria are more subjective, and dependent upon the observations and testimony of witnesses and/or a code enforcement officer.

  • Unpleasant, annoying, offensive, loud, or obnoxious
  • Unusual for the time of day or location where it is produced or heard
  • Detrimental to the health, comfort, or safety of any individual or to the reasonable enjoyment of property or the lawful conduct of business because of the loudness

Under the law, it is unlawful to create a noise disturbance anywhere during quiet hours, including multi-family buildings and townhouses. The nuisance provision prohibits some noise disturbances anywhere at any time.

Noises associated with motorized vehicles (automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATV’s) are regulated under the State Motor Vehicle Code by the Police, and not subject to enforcement under the Montgomery County Noise Control Law.

Noisy Neighbor. Noise Intervention

Download the County’s noise brochure, A Sound Solution (685KB, PDF)

Interior Noise at Multifamily Properties

Montgomery County’s noise control law does not contain any specific sound limits applicable to internal noise between units in a multifamily property. Issues involving routine sounds associated with living in a multifamily setting, such as loud voices, heavy footsteps, doors slamming, dropping objects on the floor, children playing, or running pets are the responsibility of the building manager or property management company to resolve.

Please refer to your lease or the covenants for your condominium or cooperative housing association to understand the conditions related to the entitlement of peace and quiet enjoyment of your living space. Failure of the building manager or property management company to provide a living space without recurring sound-related disruptions may constitute a breach of the lease or association covenants.

The Montgomery County Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs, 240-777-0311, can help with questions regarding your reasonable expectation of peace and quiet enjoyment of your living space.

lawn, mower, noise, pollution, control

Resolving Noise Control Issues

Step 1: Determine who to contact to report the issue:

  • Report noise violations occurring during regular business hours
  • Report noise disturbances from trash collection during quiet hours
  • Report noise disturbances from animals

Complete the Two-Party Noise Complaint Form for noise complaints that are not witnessed by an enforcement officer. The law has a unique provision allowing residents to file a complaint through the form.

Interior Noise

Montgomery County’s noise control law does not contain any specific sound limits applicable to internal noise. The sound limits established in the law are for external noise measured outside at the property line. Click here for more information.

Outside Noise

Montgomery County’s noise control law does not cover noise from:

lawn, mower, noise, pollution, control
  • Aircraft and railroads.
  • Motor vehicles on public roadways.
  • Emergency operations by police, fire or public utilities.
  • Agricultural field machinery.
  • Non amplified sound created between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. by sports, amusements, or entertainment events or other public gatherings operating according to the requirements of the appropriate permit or licensing authority. This includes athletic contests, carnivals, fairgrounds, parades, Band and orchestra activities, and public celebrations.

If you would like to proceed with submitting an outside noise complaint that does not meet the critera listed above, please click below.

Things You Can Do to Reduce Noise Problems

Whether you live in a single-family home, a multi-family building, or a townhouse or condo, you can help maintain a quiet environment by following a few common-sense guidelines:

  • Monitor the volume of TVs, stereos, radios, and other sound-producing electronics in and around your home, especially during quiet hours. Pay particular attention to bass controls.
  • Use power tools in your home, garage, or outdoors only during daytime hours.
  • Limit outdoor activities that might generate undue noise to daytime hours.
  • Check central and window air-conditioning units periodically to make sure they’re operating as quietly as possible.
  • Take good care of your pets. A healthy dog receiving regular food, exercise, and proper shelter won’t bark incessantly.
  • Make sure your family and guests are aware of, and comply with, quiet hours.
  • Buy quiet when selecting equipment and appliances.

Businesses can also be good neighbors and comply with County Law by limiting the following activities to daytime hours:

  • Construction activities
  • Loading and unloading of goods and materials
  • Use of electronic sound and public address equipment
  • Use of power equipment mounted on motor vehicles

Also, keep noise control in mind when building or renovating and be sure to follow all the applicable regulations within the Noise Control Law.

It is also helpful to be mindful of noise throughout the day. Our community is changing because Smart growth and land use planning is clustering development into multiple-use areas. Traditional residential areas now share space with a variety of commercial uses. There is a greater opportunity for business noise to be a disturbance to those living nearby. Further, an increasing number of people now run businesses from their homes or telecommute. a midweek afternoon lawn service might now interrupt an at-home teleconference.

How Is Noise Measured?

The standard unit by which sound is measured is the decibel (dB), a relative measure of sound intensity. Decibels are calculated on a logarithmic scale (meaning that a measure of 40 dB is 10 times greater than one of 30 dB). Some examples of typical situations and their corresponding decibel levels are:

Typical Decibel Levels of Common Situations

Note: The Noise Law uses an A-weighted scale, measured in A-weighted decibels (dBA). A-weighting is an electronic approximation.

Intensity vs. Loudness

Decibels are a measure of sound intensity—the pressure of sound waves on the human ear. They provide a standardized, objective unit of measure and differ from a measure of the perceived loudness of a sound.

Loudness is a subjective measure because different people have different levels of hearing and don’t experience sound in the same way. Someone who is hard of hearing, for example, might not perceive a jackhammer as loud while someone with excellent hearing could be disturbed by the same noise. Both people, however, would experience the same level of sound intensity.

Be Aware! When continuous exposure to sound reaches 85 dBA (as in a factory), there is a great risk of permanent hearing loss.

Procedures Governing the Measurement of Noise Levels by Montgomery County

During business hours, Code Enforcement personnel from the Department of Environmental Protection investigate complaints by using sound level meters to measure dBA levels at property lines. After regular business hours, the Noise Law allows police officers to issue citations for noise disturbances on their own judgment and with the testimony of witnesses.

  • Regulations in Chapter 31B of Code of Montgomery County Regulations (COMCOR). Download the Montgomery County Noise Law (56KB, PDF).
  • Noise measurements are taken with a sound level meter meeting Type II specifications. The meter shall be certified annually with equipment traceable to NIST and ANSI specification S1.4 (American National Standard Specification for Sound Level Meters)
  • Measurements are taken at the property line of the alleged violator as to determine the maximum A-weighted (dBA) sound level, which can include upper floors of nearby habited structures. (One exception is where the law specifies otherwise – e.g., at least 50 feet from construction equipment.)
  • Measurements shall not be conducted in the presence of wind speeds greater than 12 miles per hour, nor in the presence of precipitation or fog. No measurement shall be made closer than 3 feet to any large reflecting surface.
  • Before citing a violation of a noise limit the regulation allows a 2.5 dBA grace to account for all possible inaccuracies
  • The measurement of noise produced by motor vehicles in transit is prescribed by State and Federal Laws. Enforcement by police officers is provided for by State Law.

Types of Noise

Interior Noise

Montgomery County’s noise control law does not contain any specific sound limits applicable to internal noise. The sound limits established in the law are for external noise measured outside at the property line.

Issues involving routine sounds associated with living in a multifamily setting, such as loud voices, heavy footsteps, doors slamming, dropping objects on the floor, children playing, or running pets are the responsibility of the building manager or property management company to resolve.

Please refer to your lease or the covenants for your condominium or cooperative housing association to understand the conditions related to the entitlement of peace and quiet enjoyment of your living space. Failure of the building manager or property management company to provide a living space without recurring sound-related disruptions may constitute a breach of the lease or association covenants.

The Montgomery County Office of Landlord-Tenant Affairs, 240-777-0311, can help with questions regarding your reasonable expectation of peace and quiet enjoyment of your living space.

Music PA Systems

Outdoor amplified sound can be a pleasurable experience at a restaurant, music event, or party, but it can create noise problems for surrounding neighbors if not adequately controlled. Other forms of amplified sound, such as an outdoor PA system used at a place of business or sporting event, can be another source of unwanted noise, which can sometimes carry a considerable distance from the source.

All outdoor amplified sound must comply with the decibel limits established in the Noise Control Law, which are measured at the nearest residential receiving property line. The established limits are:

Yard Maintenance Leaf Blowers

  • All residential yard care and landscaping activities and commercial equipment operation may not begin until 7 a.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. on weekends and holidays.

Leaf Blower Noise

The primary noise concern related to landscaping and yard care is the use of leaf blowers that might cause unnecessary and unusual noise disturbances.

A leaf blower is defined as any portable device designed or intended to blow, vacuum, or move leaves or any other type of debris or material by generating a concentrated stream of air. Leaf blowers include devices or machines that accept vacuum attachments.

In July 1989, after extensive discussion, testimony, and public hearings, the Montgomery County Council amended the County Noise Law (Chapter 31B, Section 31B-11, Montgomery County Code) to specifically regulate noise from leaf blowers. The amendment became effective July 1, 1990. It was reconfirmed and included in the comprehensive revision of the Noise Control Law that became effective March 13, 1996.

Leaf Blower Standard

A person must not sell, buy, offer for sale, or use a leaf blower at any time that has an average sound level exceeding 70 dBA (A-weighted decibels) at a distance of 50 feet.

This requirement is in addition to any other noise level or noise disturbance standard that applies under the Noise Law. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) must apply the standard in accordance with the most current leaf blower testing standard of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Manufacturers, distributors and retailers are encouraged to submit design and performance data to DEP on all units offered for sale in Montgomery County to demonstrate compliance with ANSI standard. They are further encouraged to conform to the labeling recommendations of the ANSI standard. Without such information and labeling, DEP may order suspension of sale of a specific unit until such test and performance data is obtained.

DEP may inspect—and on its request a person must produce—any leaf blower that is sold, offered for sale, or used in the County, to determine whether the leaf blower complies with the law. A person who relies in good faith on a manufacturer’s written representation of the sound level of a leaf blower that has not been modified is not subject to a penalty for violation.

It is the intention of DEP to facilitate voluntary and amicable compliance with this Law among all concerned. However, upon conviction, violators are subject to a civil fine of 500 for the first offense, 750 for subsequent offenses, and other relief as allowed by law.

Lawn mowing noise pollution

Quietest lawn mower 2023: Mow your lawn in peace

Discover the quietest lawn mowers to transform your yard into a blissfully quiet haven.

The quietest lawn mowers are the perfect tool to transform your backyard into a scene of peace and serenity. While most lawn mowers are notoriously noisy, there are quiet lawn mower models that significantly reduce the amount of noise you (and your neighbors) will experience.

So, what should you look for in one of the quietest lawn mowers? You’ll see that noise levels are measured in decibels. Be aware that decibels are on a logarithmic scale, with 50 dB registering about twice as loud as 40 dB. As a guide, a normal conversation is the equivalent of 60 dB. However, it’s worth noting that the majority of lawn mower manufacturers do not provide information on decibels (although our top pick does!).

In this guide, you’ll only find electric lawn mowers, robot lawn mowers and manual push mowers. We excluded the best riding lawn mowers and the best gas lawn mowers from this guide as, while they tend to boast superior cutting power, they tend to be louder than their counterparts.

Mulling over whether to opt for manual, electric, or robot? The main distinction is the amount of work. A manual mower is the most sustainable option but requires more physical exertion, a robot takes care of the mowing for you, and an electric model is somewhere in between.

Quietest lawn mowers

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We’ve rounded up the quietest lawn mowers around to help you find the right model for you. We’ve included everything from a high-tech robot lawn mower to a manual push reel mower. While we endeavor to review every product that we highlight in our guides, reviews for the products below are still in progress. However, we’ve summed up the key specs, features and user reviews to help you make the right decision for you and your lawn.

The quietest lawn mower

Reasons to avoid

If you want a mower to do the hard graft for you, the GARDENA 15001-41 SILENO City is your new best friend. Better still, this robot mower operates so quietly that you may forget it’s there.

The GARDENA 15001-41 SILENO City scores an impressive 4.7 out of 5 on Amazon user reviews on the noise level. Many were thrilled with the convenience of the mower taking care of the lawn for them. A few mentioned that it trims the grass very short, which is not to everyone’s taste. The main drawback mentioned is that setting up the boundary wire can be a hassle. but you only have to do it once.

Gardena is a European brand renowned for its robot mowers, with 20 years of experience in the industry. An insider tip is that European brands often have quieter models as there are stricter regulations on noise control than in the US. At 57 dBA, it’s one of the quietest lawn mowers in its class. That’s equivalent to just shy of a normal conversation. The quiet operation allows you to relax and unwind in your yard while the mower takes care of the lawn.

We love that this little mower works come rain or shine, with a clever weatherproof design. It can even navigate slopes up to a 35% gradient. At 799.99, it’s not cheap, though it may be worth the investment to tick the mowing off your list.

of the quietest lawn mowers

Cutting width: 18 inches Type: Self-propelled, cordless Power type: Battery

If you live in a crowded urban area, the Makita XML03CM1 is a safe bet. It’s super quiet, thanks to the battery-powered operation and a brushless motor. It scores a commendable 4.7 out of 5 on noise level on Amazon reviews. The quiet mode is a bonus, which dampens noise by reducing the speed to 2500 RPM. This feature is super handy if you need to approach buildings. Plus, the Makita XML03CM1 goes the distance, promising to last up to 2 miles before the battery cuts out. With self-propelled capability, this product takes the chore out of mowing. The drawbacks? A few reviewers complain the handle is not the comfiest. There are also reports the mower struggles with very tall grass, though it cuts well in normal conditions.


Type: Push reel Power type: Manual Cutting width: 16 inches

If you want to escape the noise of modern life, look no further than the Earthwise 1715-16EW. It’s almost silent, thanks to the absence of a motor. This manual option not only keeps noise pollution to a minimum, but it’s also zero-emission, making it super-sustainable. At a steal price of 129.99, the Earthwise is also budget-friendly. The grass is actually greener with a reel mower thanks to the scissor-like action, which protects the lawn from damage. Worried about it being hard work? One reviewer describes it as a “dream to push,” and it is surprisingly lightweight. Yet it won’t be for everyone, as it does demand physical exertion. A few Amazon reviews mention adjusting it can be cumbersome, which is worth factoring in.


Type: Corded push Power type: Electric Cutting width: 14 inches

The American Lawn Mower Company 50514 is a green option for small lawns. Thanks to its electric operation, it reduces your carbon footprint. Another draw is this electric model is much quieter than gas. One Amazon reviewer said they could even hold a conversation while mowing. This mower is incredibly lightweight, making it a breeze to use. If you’re pressed for storage space, you can stow it away easily due to the foldable handle. The adjustability is another nice touch. you can customize the handle height to suit your frame. Be aware that the grass bag fills up quickly, and the mower is corded, making it best suited to small plots. But at 159.99, the American Lawn Mower Company 50514 is both a budget and planet-conscious option.


Type: Cordless push Power type: Battery Running time: 60 minutes

The EGO Power LM2000-S promises the power of gas without the faff. This makes an excellent alternative to a gas mower. Thanks to the battery-powered operation, it boasts 30% less noise than a gas equivalent. This is a great all-rounder if you want an easy-to-use electric mower. It scores a commendable 4.5 out of 5 from 303 reviews on Amazon. Plus, it folds away, which is a big draw if you’re tight on storage space. For a healthy lawn, you can mulch the grass clippings to return nutrients to the soil and keep it looking lush. At 349.99, it offers decent value though you will need to shell out extra for a battery as it’s not included. EGO batteries are interchangeable if you have their other tools.

Why having the quietest lawn mower possible is important

If you want to transform your yard into a tranquil haven, picking one of the quietest lawn mowers is a superb choice.

“Quiet lawnmowers offer a multitude of benefits, including eliminating disruptions for neighbors and expanding a homeowner’s mowing opportunities. Mowing early in the morning was once considered a nuisance, but with quiet lawn mowers, homeowners can mow whenever it fits their schedule — without waking up the neighborhood,” says Christina Swanson, Marketing Manager at Toro.

Christina Swanson is a marketing manager with Toro, where she is responsible for the walk–behind lawn mower business. She’s an expert on all aspects of lawn care – and understands why having a quiet lawn mower can be so beneficial.

Picking one of the quietest lawn mowers is wise if you live in an urban area with buildings and neighbors nearby. It means you don’t have to worry about disturbing the people around you.

Keeping the noise down isn’t just about peace and quiet. Evidence suggests reducing exposure to noise benefits your health and wellbeing. According to the World Health Organization, exposure to excessive noise can interfere with daily activities and negatively impact sleep and cardiovascular health.

Exposure to loud noise over prolonged periods is also linked to stress. “It is thought that noise triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which damages blood vessels over time,” says Poppy Szkiler, Quiet Mark CEO CoFounder.

If you share your home with pets, one of the quietest lawn mowers may be a wise choice. Loud noises can cause distress in some animals, but a quiet model can put your mind at ease.

What are the downsides to having a quiet lawn mower?

Perceptions of noise are shifting, and choosing a quiet appliance is increasingly desirable. According to a Quiet Mark survey, more than 77% of Americans have changed how they view noise in their environment since the beginning of the pandemic.

“The World Health Organization says that noise pollution is the second biggest killing natural pollutant after air pollution. At least 1 million healthy life-years are lost every year in western European countries because of environmental noise, with cardiovascular disease contributing to the vast majority of these deaths, especially high blood pressure, heart attacks, and coronary heart disease,” says Poppy Szkiler, Quiet Mark CEO CoFounder.

People are willing to pay a premium for peace and quiet. You can expect models with quiet functioning to cost more as it’s a selling point. If you’re on a budget, a manual model may be a great choice as they are typically more affordable than other options. You may also want to take advantage of deals on quieter models to reap the rewards for less.

Typically, electric, battery, and manual models are quieter than gas lawn mowers. Consumers have traditionally faced a trade-off between the power of gas and the peace and quiet of other types of mowers. Recent developments see alternative models beginning to rival gas. “Battery-powered mowers stand up to their gas counterparts when it comes to quality of cut, reliability, and durability,” says Christina Swanson, Marketing Manager at Toro.

Yet be aware that often higher motor speeds produce more noise, so you may need to find a compromise between power and noise level. The Makita XML03CM1, for example, has an extra quiet mode, which reduces noise by slowing down the speed of the motor.

On a very large plot? The quietest models may not offer sufficient power to cover the ground quickly. In this scenario, a riding mower may be a better alternative for your yard.

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Why Are Lawn Mowers So Loud? Causes solutions

Yea, I hear ya, the sound of a mower at full tilt, especially early in the morning can feel like an attack on the senses. Surely if they can make a truck quiet, they can make a mower quiet, right?

So why are their lawnmowers so loud? Mowers are loud because mufflers fitted to most engines are a cheap basic type known as – Absorptive type mufflers, they create very little gas flow restriction which is great for power but bad for noise.

Manufacturers could make a mower less noisy, but they don’t because they don’t want to sacrifice cost and engine power.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) which is the association of outdoor equipment makers, decided voluntarily back in 1974 to set a noise level target of 95dcb for mowers.

Noise Source and Solutions

Although the engine makes most of the noise you associate with a mower, a surprising amount comes from a spinning blade, much like the blades of a helicopter cutting through the air. Next time you see an electric mower stop and listen, most of the noise you hear is the blade cutting through air and grass. Electric mowers are not as quiet as you might think.

Anyhow mower noise comes from four main sources, listed below are possible solutions for excessive noise. If looking to go below 20 decibels, I suggest a donkey.

Exhaust/Muffler – Exhaust heatshields become loose and baffle inside become loose also. To test, give the muffler a tap with the handle of a screwdriver and listen for the tell-tale rattle.

Check your Muffler for damage, these guys get very hot and are prone to cracking and corrosion.

You already know mowers cause lots of vibration, and stuff just comes loose, that’s why it’s a good idea to check over your mower regularly looking for loose stuff. The baffles live inside the muffler and sometimes break free causing a thin metallic-sounding rattle. Mufflers get really hot and vibration can cause them to crack. They can be repaired by your local muffler shop.

Gaskets – Gaskets are used to mate the muffler to the engine. They create a seal, and as you can imagine when it breaks down you get lots of noise and fumes. Gaskets are easy to replace.

Blade Noise – Blades make a surprising amount of noise. Blade tips cut through the air at over 200 mph and most lawn tractors will have 2 and maybe 3 blades.

Bare Metal – The underside of mower decks is just painted. Debris thrown against the deck resonates like a bell.

You can DIY this one, at the auto parts store you can buy spray-on bed liner which adds sound deadening and metal protection to your deck.

Just make sure the deck is clean and dry before painting outdoors. You can check out a video on that subject right here.

Also, try sticking sheets of self-adhesive bitumen car sound deadening material in a few places on the deck topside. You can pick these up in an auto parts store. Sure it might look a little odd, but it does help.

Engine – Obviously the engine is a major contributor to noise levels. Valves, rockers, camshaft, crankshaft, and especially the fan (located on top of the engine) can be considerable. There are things you can do to help minimize the noise. Valve lash should be checked and adjusted every year, it doesn’t take long. Not only will it cut down on noise, but it’ll also give you more power and better gas mileage.

Engine Fan – Most small engines don’t have coolant they are air-cooled and so they need a fan to pull cool air across the engine, and fans are noisy.

Check out “Valve lash adjustment”, it’s for a walk-behind mower, but the process is the same for any OHV engine. Engine oil is another opportunity to help reduce noise. When oil gets old it gets thin which causes engine ratel. Your mower needs a tune-up at the beginning of every season. Check out “Tractor mower tune-up”.

Valve Lash – Valvetrain will be noisy if there’s excessive lash.

Of course, your engine may rattle because it’s worn, if you think that may be possible, try using a thicker oil or try Lucas oil treatment, it’s great stuff, you will notice a quieter engine, I promise. The engine fan is needed to cool the engine, so it’s got to stay. But try putting self-adhesive bitumen on the underside of the hood, really does help reduce noise.

Body – Body panels, deck linkages levers, etc. will rattle and squeak as the engine and blades cause them to vibrate. Greasing all-metal deck arm contact points will reduce noise, spraying with WD40 will help also.

Check your hood and seat rubber stops, replace them with a DIY fix if needed. Run a blade down some old rubber hosing, great for pushing onto the edge of a rattling hood, MacGyver style.

Linkages – Keep all the metal-to-metal links well-greased, it helps dampen rattling and squeaks. Check that the rubber hood and seat stops are in place.

Muffler Types

The two main types of exhaust mufflers are – Absorptive mufflers and Reflective mufflers. Most mowers are fitted with the less expensive absorptive type muffler. So what is the difference between the cheap one and the more expensive one? Design, materials used, and execution.

Absorptive Mufflers

An absorptive muffler is a very basic muffler, probably the one fitted to your mower. It doesn’t use any clever engineering, it does a poor job of noise reducing. It will usually incorporate a spark arrester, which is a mesh screen that catches any sparks that might exit the engine.

This muffler causes a very little restriction to gas flow which is great for power, that’s why racing cars are so noisy. This type of muffler is fitted to most lawnmower engines.

Reflective Mufflers

Reflective mufflers or resonators – Engineered to kill noise using clever acoustic engineering. Sound waves are pushed through perforated baffles in resonating chambers where some noise is canceled out, known as Destructive interference. Special acoustic suppression temperature resistant material (not unlike rock-wool) is sandwiched between the chambers and the exhaust outer casing, this further suppresses noise.

The larger the muffler the quieter the motor, that’s why high-end luxury cars have very large mufflers. The downside to this type of muffler is flow restriction – the baffles and chambers cause restriction to the flow of gases which in turn causes backpressure, and backpressure reduces the power of the engine.

Super Quiet Lawn Mower Mufflers

Here’s a possible solution it’s the Super Trapp Quiet Muffler, I haven’t used it so I can’t comment first hand, but doing some research, it seems to do the business. Check out the YouTube video below. The Super Trapp is a Reflective muffler type, it uses witchcraft and wizardry to make an engine as quiet as a cricket.

Mufflers – Some makers do a better job than others, John Deere mufflers do a first-class job.

Lawn Mower Louder Than Usual

Mowers create a lot of noise and vibration, the engine and spinning blades set up vibrations that over time will start to pull your mower apart. A lawnmower can make many different types of noises, they can be squeals, squeaks, constant howls, cyclical noise, or just a general harsh roughness. Some noises are just impossible to describe and I know describing noises may not be useful to some.

What is useful, is to see when the noise is present, is it present as soon as you start the mower, or only when you are driving, or maybe only when the blades are engaged. This kind of detective work will help you find and fix the problem quickly.

If you need a new muffler check out the Amazon link below.


If you feel your mower is louder than normal, you can check a few of the more common noise sources. Some of these won’t apply to walk behind mowers but most will.

  • Oil level ok?
  • Blade(s) loose (cyclical noise)
  • Muffler or brackets loose (loud roar/rattling)
  • Muffler gasket leaks (loud roar)
  • Muffler cracked or broken (loud roar)
  • Hood loose or contacting the body (rattling)
  • Seat brackets loose or rubber bushing worn/missing (rattling)
  • Debris caught in the drive line (cyclical noise)
  • Belt pulley bearings worn (harshness/howl)
  • Blade spindle bearings worn (harshness/howl)
  • Belt worn/damaged (cyclical noise)
  • PTO clutch worn (harshness/howl) (Tractor/Ride-on)
  • Deck carrying arms loose/dry (rattling)
  • Wheel bearings dry (squeal/Squeak)
  • Steering dry (squeal/Squeak)
  • Transmission worn (harshness/howl)

This isn’t a complete list, and as you can imagine there are many possibilities, but these are the more usual causes of noise.

Blade Spindle

Blade spindles transfer the power to the blades. They are bolted to the deck and have bearings on top and bottom to provide smooth spinning.

The bearings wear out and can cause a howling roar when the blades are on. The bearings can be replaced, but often replacing the whole spindle makes more sense.

lawn, mower, noise, pollution, control


Pulleys are used to drive and route belts around the chassis. Most will have bearings and they’re the ones that cause trouble. They’re a common source of noise.

Generally, if you have a worn-out belt, then chances are one or more pulleys are also worn, and vice versa. Pulleys are fitted to the driving belt and also to the cutting deck belt system.

Most pulleys employ integrated bearings but some are replaceable.

Belt Wear

Belt wear or damage will cause a cyclical noise as the damaged area contacts the pulleys. Damaged cutting deck belts will also cause lots of vibration.

Hey, I’m John, and I’m a Red Seal Qualified Service Technician with over twenty-five years experience.

I’ve worked on all types of mechanical equipment, from cars to grass machinery, and this site is where I share fluff-free hacks, tips, and insider know-how.

And the best part. it’s free!

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