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View Full Version : Oddball Job - What do you think?


Darryl G
04-23-2003, 10:11 PM
Maybe it's just something new to me, but I got what I consider a strange request.

Here's the background. A friend of my wife owns a native plant nursery...I've worked for her before preparing areas for her to install native plants in before. To be honest, they all look like weeds to me. Anyway, I'm going to look at the job on Friday.

She planted some native roses in a 300 foot long bed along a customer's driveway. The problem is that the other side of the bed borders the next door neighbors field and the grass creeps into the beds. They just ripped out some landscape fabric and all the mulch that was there and installed new mulch.

Here's what she wants...She wants me dig a trench along the field edge to a depth of 1 foot (300 feet long) and install edging to keep the grass from creeping into the beds again. I suggested that we just get a bed edger and maintain the edge periodically. No good, she says the grass roots are a foot deep and wants to install some special one foot deep edging that is used for keeping invasive plants out of wetland restoration projects. The funny part is that they wanted me to do it Friday...and she calls Wednesday evening!

I've got a backhoe for my JD tractor that should do the job if it's not too rocky, but I can't help but think she is going about this all wrong. Seems like a lot of trouble just to keep grass from spreading into a bed...but who am I to complain as I quoted my work out at $70/hr. But I want to do what's right.

What do you guys think? I know there has to be a better way. It would be great if I could get some input before my meeting Friday. Forgot to mention, using herbicides of any sort...unless they're "organic" is unacceptable to the customer.

Oops, there's more, they want to dig up a bunch of black walnut trees and replace them with redbuds. They have someone to spade them out, but how much soil will they have to take along with it. I know that black walnuts have a substance that basically kills most other plants.

Darryl

Darryl G
04-23-2003, 10:24 PM
One more thing...wouldn't a Ditch Witch be a better way to dig the trench, if I was going to dig a trench that long?

A1 Lawn@Landscapes
04-23-2003, 10:46 PM
Ditch witch sounds like the way to go. I often get requests for things that I would not do for myself. I advise different options, but if what the customer wants is not illegal or immoral or impractical, like planting St Augestine up here, and I can make what I need to make, then so be it.

Darryl G
04-23-2003, 11:45 PM
A1Lawn - Thanks for the reply. Well, in fact they did want me to do something illegal, but I think it's just ignorance...they (nursery owner and property owner) didn't think it's necessary to call Call-B4-U-Dig (Dig Safe in some areas) because it's very rural and there aren't likely to be any utilities. However, I insisted and prevailed in convincing them of the need.

I've done some trenching with my hoe and it's kind of slow with only a 7 foot reach and more like a 5 foot working reach for trenching. I'd have to move like 60 times! And the bottom of the trench won't be even and the excavated soil will be more in pile than a row like it would with the DW making backfilling harder.

I've never run a DW but seen it done several times. The walkbehind ones look like they're a bit rough on the operator.

fblandscape
04-23-2003, 11:55 PM
If they are going to spade out the black walnuts, and replace them with redbuds, why are you worried about soil being lost? As long as they are using the same spade.. which is the best option you shouldn't lose any soil.

paponte
04-24-2003, 12:04 AM
darryl, we do the same thing when we plant bamboo. We trnch in sheetmetal, so that the chutes only grow sideways up to a certain point. Your situation sounds similar, but just with grass. It's easy money if you have the machine, or a trencher. :cool:

Darryl G
04-24-2003, 12:13 AM
fblandscape - the concern with the walnuts is that they secrete a substance (juglone or something) that is toxic to most other plants. I'm concerned that there will be residual in the soil that will kill the redbuds.

Paponte - What kind of metal do you use, steel, aluminum or other?

paponte
04-24-2003, 12:14 AM
aluminum sheetmetal. It will out last steel in the ground. :cool:

AGLA
04-24-2003, 07:09 AM
You are dealing with environmentalists that practice it as a religion it seems. I'm not passing judgement on that, but you have to understand that their values are not going to be in sync with what the average person's.

They will pay a lot of money to keep out "invasive lawn" because they believe that will help save the world. At the same time, they will not do other things that are what we would see as practical because they are too expensive.

You are likely to find these people ripping up every inch of lawn and planting perennials thinking that the lawn is high mantenance and bad for the environment. Ever weed a quarter acre bed? Which erodes more in a down pour - a well established lawn or a quarter acre planting bed?

If they value the root barrier they will pay.

Darryl G
04-24-2003, 09:40 AM
AGLA - Good point. Yes, I have weeded a 1/4 acre bed. I have one customer with zero turf, and yes, it's on a steep slope, and yes it washes out. But the important part is that the butterflies like it!

KerryB
04-24-2003, 11:39 AM
A man gave me some good advice some time ago. I have followed it and it works everytime.
Tell the customer the proper way to do it. If they are still convinced that their way is better, well you tried.
Charge them do a good job. When all is said and done they just may pay you to install, tear it out and do it the right way.

Darryl G
04-25-2003, 04:25 PM
Well, I think I'm gonna pass on this one.

The job is 45 minutes away, the work area isn't even in the customers yard and from what I can tell is over the underground utilities. I've also got to work around a split rail fence.

I was going to do it hourly, but the nursery owner told me the guy "beats her down a little on her hours". To make it worse he told me that he had a firm handle planning/zoning issues for his business on an hourly basis and the fees were outrageous so he only paid the guy half of what he billed.

I think I'd better put on my running shoes so I can run as fast and far away from this one as possible!!!!!!!!