Roots, roots and more roots!

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by Chris J, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Have any of you ever actually turned down a job because the site was too difficult? I went to an estimate the other day, and the job was pretty much closed within 30 seconds of my getting out of the truck. The client and his wife had been wanting a quality landscape lighting system, and told me that they had decided to buy it for themselves for Christmas. As far as sales calls go, it just doesn't get any better than this! The problem after evaluating the work site, however, is that the entire property was riddled with huge roots systems growing across the entire surface of the yard. I'm not talking about the occasional root either. Almost every square inch of this yard, both front and back, was covered with roots so bad that I wanted to just leave and tell them that I could not be of service to them.
    Instead of turning it down, I thought I would just cover myself and make it worth my time in the event that I made the sale. I gave them my estimate which was about double what I would normally charge, and hoped (in the back of my mind) that they would just turn me down. I get the feeling they are going to call me back, and I really don't want to take on this job.
    Have any of you ever encountered a situation like this? I know James has mentioned difficult installs on forrest floors and in sheer rock beds, but these root systems are in their front yard and the lot is very small. To add to this dilemma, there are three drive-ways that will need to be encountered. One circular drive, and then another going straight into the front entrance garage.
    I could actually see large roots growing through the expansion joints, so laying the wire here is not an option.
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    I think you have handled this right so far Chris. If and when I come across a particularly difficult installation, I ensure that the installation time for each component is increased to reflect the difficulty. That is only fair.

    As far as turning down a job because it is too difficult.... I haven't done that yet. I sort of thrive on the challenge. If you are just too busy with other work, and the client seems unwilling to pay the premium for a difficult installation, then that would help make up your mind about skipping the job.

    You could always refer them away to your competition.
  3. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,180

    You did the right thing... this is where guys charging per fixture will get bit and bit hard. I probably wouldnt turn down a job but it does need to be priced acordingly.

    Did you also consider what these roots will do to your wire in a few years ?
  4. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Your right on Chris, If you take the job and have to trench through roots make sure you get the homeowners to sign a damage release on the trees. If you root prune too much and the tree dies you want to make sure you are covered. A very thorough conversation with the homeowner needs to happen before you dig, and they need to be fully aware of the risks and sign off to hold you faultless of any damage to the trees. After that go for it.
  5. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    You didn't happen to take any photos you could share did you?

    I think everyone has made some valid points so far.
    But I guess I'm thinking "outside the ground".

    So, it sounds like these are big trees and close together (from small yard and many roots). How dense are the canopies? Is there any way to inconspicuously run cable between trees overhead? I've never done this, but if they can do it with line voltage, why not low voltage?

    I'm just kind of thinking out loud here, maybe use a braided steel cable to take the shock of trees swaying in the wind, etc and attach lighting cable with zip ties and then run down the back of the trunk for uplighting, or up for downlighting?

    All the cable I come across and use is rated UV resistant. But as far as height above ground or any code issues I have no idea.

    The reason I've been thinking about this lately is I have a client with a long curving rural driveway, no power along it, lots of roots, various mounds and swales that would make trenching difficult, and just a few spots where downlighting along curves in the drive would be a good thing. (The main job is multi-trunked oaks and deck areas surrounding the house.)
  6. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Male, from Kingsland, Texas
    Messages: 2,214

    NEC Does not permit running any wires above ground, into trees!! I know we have all seen this from time to time but it is not permitted by code. Just letting you know.
  7. Mike M

    Mike M LawnSite Bronze Member
    from usa
    Messages: 1,988

    I'm curious if an irrigation trencher would work, or better yet, why not ask the irrigation guys on the forum? I'm sure they run into this. Just cover with seed or sod.
  8. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,187

    Trenchers will go through those big roots. You just have to cover your backside on tree damage. See my previous post.
  9. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Thanks for the input so far guys. No pictures, unfortunately, but a trencher would be a must for this project. Also mulitple transformers with a UPB system so I don't have to attempt boring the driveways. I'll definitly get a release for potential harm to the trees, but there are so many roots I don't see how cutting a few of them would harm any one of these trees. We will see how it goes from here.
    Thanks again.
  10. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,553

    Thanks. I don't doubt what I think you're saying one bit Paul.

    But just to cover a matter of semantics, you aren't saying that we can't run wires "above ground" as in up a tree trunk or (as some even do in a roof gutter, etc.) right? You just mean it the way I was thinking about, as in running the wire "through the air" more or less parallel to the ground, correct?

    So, do you have any idea where to find this part of the code? And do you mean that as long as it's not "into trees" then it's ok? Like pole to pole?

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