Hedge problems

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Zed, Nov 3, 2003.

  1. Zed

    Zed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    I have a client with a beautiful cedar hedge, going to be trimming it this week. Anyways he is in a court battle with his neighbor over it. The neighbor had a patio built that is bordering right against the hedge, and 2 feet higher than the roots.

    The client is convinced that the stonedust runoff is hurting his cedars.

    There are some trees that are suffering, but they are under the shade of his spruce, and a few others no where near the patio. Quite frankly the hedge is fine where the stonedust is running off into the roots. He is retired and quite bored I imagine, but his yard is surely his pride and joy.

    He wants me to write up a declaration that his neighbor is killing the hedge (lol) for him to use in court. Seems like a bad idea to me, I cant find any info on stonedust affecting cedars, and the hedge looks fine. I can just see myself called to the stand to testify and telling the court my client is a dumbass. Oops.

    Any wisdom appreciated.

    Matt
     
  2. Relly

    Relly LawnSite Member
    Posts: 17

    Don't say or put in writing anything you do not believe that you cannot support.

    Be honest with him. It is your responsibility as a professional to share your professional opinions based on your experience and knowledge. If the plants appear to be in good condition, say so. If the plants that are being shaded appear to be negatively affect by the shade vs runoff, say so.

    To show him that you are addressing his concerns, take a soil test (his expense of course)and check on pH and such. See what the results tell you. If they show it is in acceptable ranges, then let your customer know that.

    If the results come back and show less than desirable,(since you did not have a pre-construction test) do a second soil test in same general area, however where it is not in the runoff path. Make sense? This may or may not tell anything, so let him know that up front. If the results are similar to the first results, then the runoff, most likely, is not the culprit.

    Maybe the stone is not the problem, but maybe the extra water is? In your opinion, how extensively were the root zones of the plants affected? Basically, try to find out if there has been a decline and then what specifically caused the decline...WITHOUT concerns for pressures from your client. Find the answer that you believe to be the truth and present it to him. Don't let him pressure you into saying something you cannot support.

    It happened to me a long time ago. I try to be agreeable with my client, but when it came down to it, they sacraficed me. It was my word since I was the professional. Another professional had support for his position and made me to look like an amateur, an ignorant fool. What an embarrasement. I learned though, and it has not repeated itself.

    I have pissed a few customers off. Most of them though, no matter how strong headed they seemed, always appreciated my honest word. I think people try to sway others in a direction, and they may come off strong...but when I state my professional opinion in a confident manner, they back off it. Kind of like they were just testing the waters. Those that I did lose...good ridance. I do not want to work for nor be associated with that type of dishonest person.

    Good luck!
     
  3. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Posts: 1,557

    IMO the only thing that could be hurting the cedars would be the possibility of the company that put down the patio to cause more compaction on the roots. Stone dust will not hurt anything to my knowledge. Just tell him what you think might be the problem. If he doesnt like that then i would stay out of the whole situation.
     
  4. Zed

    Zed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    Relly your take is bang on, and NCSU has a great point about the soil compaction. I'm going to go by his place tomorrow to give him the estimate on the hedge, and I will have another look at it's condition. I honestly dont remember the hedge looking any different near the patio, only trouble spots were under the spruce and in the corner where it is shaded by a shed. This guy seems pretty convinced that his hedge is dying though, maybe he has some other vendetta going with the neighbor. Important thing right now is to get the $$ for the trim ;)
     
  5. Grassmechanic

    Grassmechanic LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,697

    Run, unless you want to be dragged into court as an "expert witness"
     
  6. Zed

    Zed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    I had a good chat with them today. I explained that I would write up what I believe, not they believe, and that my opinion was by no means backed up by a horticulture degree ;) I also said that if I was called to testify that it might make them look bad.

    1 thing that I did notice is that the retaining wall right up against the hedge is made of railway tie containing creosote. I'm not sure if this is good for cedars. Another thing is that the neighbors patio has messed up all the drainage on that side of the clients yard, and every spring the area along the hedge is a lake for a month.

    So, creosote, and standing water, any issues? Keep in mind the hedge on the neighbors side is already stressed by the fact is receives little sun, and the patio is no doubt causing alot of soil compaction on that side.

    Thanks guys, you rock.
     
  7. zedosix

    zedosix LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,636

    How long ago was this patio built. If just recently then I would expect that when it was installed that a good portion of the root system was either disturbed or cut out completely. Sounds like an amateur installed this patio to me. Railway ties haven't been used to build patios for 15 yrs or so. Also who in their right mind would build this close to a hedge or any type of trees. I think your client has every right to consider this part of the problem, but no right to get you involved. Leave it to the homeowners to sort it out.

    Good luck

    zed
     
  8. Zed

    Zed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    Z06 eh? Sweet.
    The patio is about 3 years old, and constructed by the homeowner. Parts of it are leaning into the hedge.
     
  9. panda

    panda LawnSite Member
    Posts: 36

    In three years time, even if the roots were not cut... they were cut off from were they were feeding. Grading was obviously changed....and so was the oxygen to the roots. The excess water is key in a disease called phytopthora (root rot).Which cedars are vunerable to. I saw several hundred feet of an alaskan cedar hedge die from this.. when investigated the culprit was excess water that was introduced from a downspout that was added for an addition to the home.

    If the hedge is of any value to the homeowner, I suggest a root and soil sample sent to a reputable lab which can test for these types of pathogens, as well as an arborist being brought in for their expertise.

    In some cases, if caught soon enough, there is treatment available. It can be labor intensive and expensive.
     
  10. Zed

    Zed LawnSite Member
    Posts: 15

    I love this site :blush:
     

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