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Damage - How do Lawn Services stay in their "league" ?

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by mdvaden, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. mdvaden

    mdvaden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,946

    Today, I discovered that lady's lawn service tried to prune a tree, cutting branches off a few days before I arrived to complete the work that the lady accepted an estimate for. The flush cuts show a lack of education regarding proper pruning and proper tree care. The bark damage shows either a lack of education or carelessness, since there were several of those bark cuts.

    The company that did this too, was working out of their class, because Oregon set a limit for cut sizes, above which someone needs a state license. These cuts exceeded that.

    Not all ignorant yard care pruning exibits this kind of bark damage, buy quite a few exibit improper horticulture, like poorly time crown reduction, or exceeding foliage removal guidelines.

    Here's questions that various services can chime in on, because some lawn care providers will know how to prune, and other won't...

    How do you estimate when you are qualified to provide proper pruning, or not qualified?

    What are your company policies to avoid pruning for which your company is not qualified.

    If you are qualified, what convinced you that you reached the threshold of proper horticultural pruning?

    Regarding other lawn companies that you work near, how many go beyond lawn care into shrub and tree pruning with minimal experience or education that cover those needs?

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  2. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 840

    To my knowledge, we do not have any pruning regulations here in my state. However, that does not mean that I am ready to drop a 45' tree in a suburban neighborhood either. I do, however, know better than to prune a tree the way your lady's lawn service did. Those look horrible. I understand what he was trying to do, but he has done more harm to the tree for the sake of a cosmedic look that will not heal properly. They need to be educated before the cause a tree to be susseptable to disease.
  3. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    I think most companies want to please their clients. The majority of clients don't see their landscapes as an investment they see it as a liability and thats how they treat it. They don't see the value to paying someone that is an Arborist 80 per hr when the guy who cuts the grass and has a saw will do it for 25 per hour.

    I only do work that my insurance will cover me for. That means we don't climb and we don't work off any thing higher than a 5-ft ladder. We have a chainsaw on a stick and will pull it out as needed for selective cuts but for the most part I have a couple of tree services we work with.

    I am a certified Arborist and an Arizona Certified Landscape Professional (ACLP) and have trained my guys well. My foreman is also ACLP certified and my leadman and improvement guy are about 1/2 way through certification so I am confident in their education and abilities too. We just don't do enough tree work to warrant the higher insurance costs and additional equipment required to be efficient.

    The thing to remember is these things that we learn through our various certifications are just guidelines. If you make a bad cut or scar the tree it wont likely die. I do know the domino effect that poor maint. can trigger so no need to go into that. What I am trying to say is educated guys get a bad rap for being arrogant about jumping all over stupid mistakes that not so educated people make.

    The point is most are asked by the homeowner to violate their trees and plants and they are just trying to keep them happy and support their families or drug habit. Everyone knows smoking is bad many still do it you can't expect them to treat their trees and plants any better than they care for their own health.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    I won't cut off limbs the diameter of those in the pictures, but I do cut anything low that's in my way mowing-wise.

    I agree with AZ....most customers don't really care a tremendous amount about their landscapes. Some do...probably your clientele does.

    I'm more concerned with losing an eye on low branches than the health of the tree :laugh: Still I know not to cut flush...
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    My general business liability policy specifically prohibits doing any tree work such as which you describe.
  6. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    MD...I pretty much know my limits when it comes to pruning. My companys focus is not on arboriculture, so my tree work is limited to light pruning of what we can reach from the ground. As far as shrubs, I can handle most of what I need to do. If there is a client request for something beyond my capabilities, I tell them, and refer an arborist.
    As far as what makes me qualified, I have a lifetime in the green industry, as well as classes in woody plants, arboriculture, and diagnostics. I have 12 years running my own business. Sure, I know I've made mistakes in the past, but who hasn't?
    As far as other companies in the area, many of the lawn maintenance companies do pruning, which mainly consists of shearing with a hedge trimmer. Just yesterday, I was admiring a nice group of hydrangeas that a competitor(?) trimmed into neat rounded balls.
  7. thesargent

    thesargent LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 400

    i worked for a tree service for 5 plus years. i have all my own gear so i will do tree work for friends and my regular lawn customers. if the clean up requires more than two loads with my pick up and trailer then i will recommend a tree service for the job.
  8. Olylawnboy

    Olylawnboy LawnSite Senior Member
    from Oly Wa
    Messages: 311

    md, if I'm reading this right, the lawn service did the pruning you were to do right. I can understand your frustration. And after a quick look at your website I can really understand your frustration. Really nice site by the way!
    What do you really mean? "ignorant lawn care pruning" or "ignorant lawn care (people)" pruning? I hope you can see what I mean.
    The cuts show a lack of education of coarse otherwise it would have been cut properly and the bark damage, for sure is just plain carelessness. Though I've made a boo boo or two in my life:).
    I'm not a certified arborist but I like to think that I have the knowlege to properly prune most any tree, in theory. I say that because I don't climb! That's where my company limitations are. I'm a wuss in that respect:) So therefore I can't do it.
    As to your last question, a boatload!:) Az explained it well, he he. They undercut us with the mowing price then buy a hedge trimer from HD and all of a sudden they know how to do shrubs! :) frustrating as heck!
    And AL, what do you have against meatballed hydrangeas? they like that look around here. What else do you do with them?
  9. AL Inc

    AL Inc LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,209

    Oly, that's OK if you like the non-flowering look...:laugh:
  10. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Damn flowers, who likes those things anyways

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