In early November, as diners prepared to eat on the outside patio of a restaurant situated along the cusp of Precinct 1 and Brazoria County, unexpected guests joined the lunch hour commotion: landscapers cutting grass with multiple pieces of gas-powered lawn equipment.

"Nothing like the smell of diesel when you're eating," one diner said out loud.

An Oct. 30 report by research center Environment Texas stated gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, leaf blowers, chainsaws and other machines, are putting people's health at risk. The county leading the charge of producing the most pollution from lawn equipment in the country is Harris County, according to the report.

By the numbers

The report found, in 2020, gas-powered lawn equipment in Harris County produced as much pollution as 3.8 million cars. Neighboring Montgomery County produced lawn equipment pollution equivalent to more than 335,000 cars.

Carbon dioxide is what climate experts at Environment Texas are calling the primary driver of climate change. According to the report's data, Harris County produces nearly 10 times more tons of carbon dioxide than Fort Bend County produces.
  • Harris County emitted more than 443,300 tons of carbon dioxide compared to more than 44,400 tons in Fort Bend County in 2020.
The report also found that nationwide, gas-powered lawn equipment produced more than 30 million tons of carbon dioxide. Put into context, that's more carbon pollution from gas-powered lawn equipment in one year than all pollution produced in the city of Los Angeles in 2021.

On the other hand

One solution to the lawn pollution, according to officials at the research center, is for landscaping businesses and homeowners to consider making the switch to cleaner, quieter electric lawn equipment. Benefits of using the electric equipment include:
  • Emitting zero emissions into the air
  • Saving money over time due to lower fuel and maintenance costs
  • Being quieter than gas-powered equipment
On the other hand, Texas passed Senate Bill 1017 in this year's legislative session, prohibiting cities and counties from banning the use of equipment based on its fuel source. The law on limiting energy sources on power equipment took effect Sept. 1.

The owner of Peaceful Lawn & Garden, a Houston-based clean-energy organic landscaping company, said one of the benefits of using electric equipment is to reduce noise and air pollution not only for his customers, but also for his staff. (Courtesy Peaceful Lawn & Garden/Facebook)
Jarmar Dupas, the owner of Peaceful Lawn & Garden—a Houston-based clean-energy, organic landscaping company—said one of the benefits of using electric equipment is to reduce noise and air pollution, not only for his customers, but also for his staff. (Courtesy Peaceful Lawn & Garden/Facebook)

Jarmar Dupas is a Houston firefighter who owns Peaceful Lawn & Garden, a clean-energy, organic landscaping company. He said the thing he hears the most from customers about his business's services is just how quiet it is compared to the alternative.

"With more and more people retiring, working from home or trying to let a little one nap, choosing an electric lawn service is becoming the neighborly thing to do. Along with that, there are many environmental benefits as well," Dupas said.

He said the most obvious benefit of an electric lawn service is the reduction in localized air pollution as well as the noise pollution that comes from gas-powered blowers—not only for his customers, but also for his own staff.

"We find it's also better for employee well-being and health as they breathe in the unrestricted emissions found in gas-powered lawn equipment. When I think about it, hiring an electric lawn service is probably the simplest thing we can do to lower our carbon footprint without even lifting a finger," Dupas said.