Testing Shrubs For Poison

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by powerpuller1966, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Hello all. I have a client that I believe poisoned the shrubs that we trimmed so he can blame us for there death and make us responsible for replacement. Is there a test kit or lab that test Yew type shrubs for poisons or herbicides? I dont know of any kits or labs that do this. I would like to test the shrubs to rule out poison before I replace the shrubs.

    Thanks an advance.
  2. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    well what symptoms are the shrubs exhibiting that makes the client think they were poisoned?

    what sort of shrubs were they, and how much did you prune?
  3. Daily Lawn/Landscape

    Daily Lawn/Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 695

    Yes you can have the shrubs tested for herbicide. Got any pics of the shrubs?

  4. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    About 25% of the total size of the shrub was removed in april of 2008. Since that, no growth has occurred. We have pruned hundreds of yews before were more than 25% of the shrub was cut back and all have sprouted new growth after the pruning. We havent done anything different to this client's shrubs than the others. There now dry, dead, and brittle. They were very healthly before we trimmed them. If we come across any shrub that is questionable, we don't touch it. That is why I think he has done something to them.

    When we were walking around discussing what he wanted done before I accepted the trimming job, I felt that he wasn't content having the Yews in the landscape, but he still wanted them trimmed to reduce the size. So now, he calls a year later and says that we killed them last year and they need to be replaced with whatever he chooses.

    I dont have a problem replacing any shrub that we have damaged (this would be our first), but I have that hunch that we are not at fault. His not liking the yews and our past successful trimming of other clients shrubs, makes me think this.

    I just need a test kit or company that does testing before I agree to replace the shrubs.

    Does anyone know where I can find this?
  5. terrapro

    terrapro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,234

    No, not at a year later.

    I will tell you this much though. If the WHOLE yew shrub is dead, no green left and it was thriving beforehand it was most likely purposely killed with a herbicide. If it is patchy yellowed and dead here and there it was your trimming job. You have trimmed hundreds, well I have trimmed 10's of thousands and guess what I still damage some some time. I have never ever ever ever seen a shrub killed completely dead by a bad trim job though. That would have to be some heavy mixed brush killer.

    Unless... it was in the middle of a drought and 100+deg out for a couple weeks before and after you trimmed. That would be the only way I could see someone completely killing an entire yew by trimming it.
  6. JNyz

    JNyz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,087

    Were there any dead weeds or grass next to the shrubs in question?
  7. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    The whole shrub is dead, even down to the roots. It was in spring during the wet season when they were cut. All the foliage was removed so the overall size would be smaller. The stems even dripped with sap when they were cut so the plant was very much alive when they were trimmed. None of the other shrubs died. They were sprouting new growth within about 2 weeks afterwards.

    They are not in direct sunlight for afternoon hours when it is the hottest. They only get a few hours of direct morning light.

    We have trimmed 10s of thousands of shrubs also and, like most of everyone that does hedge trimming, have skimmed a few into the wood sometimes. But no one ever required replacement of the shrub. That is what I meant by our first. We have trimmed hundreds of yews were there was no foliage left on the shrub and all have sprouted new growth afterward within 2-3 weeks, and all were done in the spring before heat and extreme sun could harm growth.

    There wasn't any dead weeds or grass in the area because the shrub was hugging the ground making the soil bare.

    I need to know of a test kit or company that does testing. Even a soil test kit might help. I need to do this asap.

    Thanks in advance.

  8. JNyz

    JNyz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,087

    Just contact your local extension agent.
  9. powerpuller1966

    powerpuller1966 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 24

    Thank you Jnyz. That is what I needed. I knew there was someplace like this available, I just didn't know what it was called or where it was.

    I will be sending them a sample on monday when the technician is available.

    Thanks to all for the fast replies.

  10. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,121

    Have you been on the property before they called with complaint? If so what condition were the yews in?

    Make sure you have the sample inspected by the extension agent, not a Master Gardener. They are OK for homeowners, not professionals. You can also send sample to the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Lab. http://njaes.rutgers.edu/plantdiagnosticlab/

    I think Penn State has something similar.

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