How To Clean Paths: Sweep, Don’t Blow Or Hose – Day 26 of Low Carbon Living

Leaf rake & yellow garden broom standing on paving strewn with yellow flowers

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Day 26 of 365 Days Of Low Carbon Living, where I take a gentle approach to cleaning a path.

At this time of year, one of my outside air-conditioners (AKA big trees) flowers…a lot.

Yellow flowers on Sophora branch

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The buzzing of all the bees that come and visit tells me that they love the flowers just as much as I do.

After the flowers are pollinated, the petals drop and carpet the ground in yellow.

Yellow petals covering straight garden path

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The problem

Unfortunately, the carpet of petals can make paths slippery when they are wet. And that means that I need to clean the paths of the petals, particularly ahead of summer thunderstorms that are around at the moment.  (An important part of garden maintenance is keeping pathways safe and accessible.)

What I do

For me, the way to clear paths is a no-brainer: I use a broom and/or a rake.

I also use a shovel to move any material that can’t be swept onto abutting garden beds to other parts of the garden.

That’s the more gentle, low-tech way to clean paths.

Straight garden path made with autumn-coloured pavers

Source: Gill King, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0


  • No air pollution or climate damage, because I don’t run on petrol or on electricity created from coal or fossil gas – unlike leaf blowers or water treatment and water pumps used for town water supplies for hosing.
  • No noise pollution: Sweeping is pretty quiet – much quieter than a noisy leaf blower or a high pressure hose – and that allows my neighbours and me to enjoy our gardens and do other things like think or listen to a podcast while I am sweeping. Raking on a hard path is noisier, but still a lot quieter than a leaf blower or pressure hose.
  • No water wastage: unlike hosing down a path, sweeping and raking don’t use water.
  • Free exercise without any travel.
  • Productive thinking time (if I don’t listen to a podcast).

Why now?

Why would anyone want to pollute or damage their (local) home?

All of us are affected by the consequences of damage to our climate (which are coming faster and worse than generally predicted) and so we all need to be doing everything we can possibly do to stop further damage. That means avoiding use of petrol or electricity generated from coal or fossil gas or oil (which is most of our electricity at the moment) – and that means avoiding using unnecessary power tools such as leaf blowers.

Many of us are over-stimulated and need quiet time for recovery. By not creating noise pollution we help create quiet spaces for us and our neighbours.

Avoiding unnecessary use of water allows our water supplies to be used for higher-valued purposes – like drinking, producing food, creating and maintaining garden plants and street trees that make our urban areas more liveable and beautiful. As global warming proceeds, rain is less predictable and soils are drying, so water is becoming more difficult to obtain and thus more valuable.

Chemicals and energy (currently mainly originally from coal and fossil gas and oil) are used to treat and transport water for towns and cities. When we keep our water use to a minimum, we also avoid unnecessary use of chemicals and energy.

Finally, most of us could do with more exercise!


Sweeping away from yourself keeps you cleaner and is generally more efficient than sweeping toward yourself…but sweeping toward yourself is better for tight or tricky spaces.

Raking up flowers, leaves and other debris is almost always best done in a sweeping motion towards your front.

When sweeping or raking, change which side of the body you are working on and which hand is on top.  That way, you work your body evenly and reduce tiring and straining.

The challenge

If you have paths and driveways, use a stiff brush (and rake if necessary) to sweep them clean.

Join me!

Any change or challenge is easier if you have company along the way.

So let’s embark on this journey together.

  • Read my blog every day for ideas, thoughts and experiences for living a lower carbon lifestyle, more in harmony with nature – while also adapting to the consequences of our damaged climate.
  • Subscribe to get posts direct to your inbox.
  • Commit to taking action yourself.
  • Add a comment to let me know you’re joining in the effort to turn around our world so it can remain liveable – and what your experiences are.
  • Share with others my posts and what you’re doing – our efforts, progress, experiences and challenges – on Facebook, on Twitter, in conversations with friends, on talkback radio and in letters to the editor.

A problem shared is a problem halved. We’re all affected by the changes to our world so we need to be all in on the action!

Till next time…