What happened to this bush?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Kejabe, Jul 27, 2013.

  1. Kejabe

    Kejabe LawnSite Member
    Messages: 5

    Hey everyone I'm new here and was wondering if I could get some opinions on what might have killed this bush. A longtime and good customer of mine thinks that I must have sprayed this bush while doing her first lawn app of the season (Dimension and Triplett). The bush is obviously dead but I'm not sure that I did it. First, if I was that far off target with my spray I would know (if i get a couple drops on a Hosta I know) and second, if it was drift wouldn't there be damage to some of the other plants in the area? Her entire back yard is lined with flower beds and bushes, as is the front of the house, but this is the only damaged plant. In seven years I've never been accused of doing something like this. I'm going to replace it whether it was my fault or not I'm just wondering what some of you think.

    Miller bush (1).jpg

    Miller bush (2).jpg
  2. foreplease

    foreplease LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,062

    Whew...that poor thing is toast. I'm sorry but I have no idea. It looks as if it just had no water for a very long time but judging from the health of the lawn and other plants that cannot be the case. Some critical piece of information is missing. My guess is that anyone figuring it out from these photos is either guessing or will need to ask more questions.

    I would examine the soil in the root zone of the bush and take a sample of that and as much of the bush as possible to one of your http://www.uwex.edu/ces/cty/county cooperative extension offices before purchasing or planting its replacement. I would be concerned about replanting the same thing in the same place without knowing what likely caused the first one to die.

    It has leaves, obviously. Was it apparently healthy earlier this summer? Any other bushes of this type in this customer's yard or any other nearby?
  3. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,793

    Good comments Fore,
    Replace the bush; its a cost of doing business and satisfying customers.

    What was the date of treatment? Liquid or dry? You would expect if it was due to herbicide it would have symptoms on the bush that match phenoxy herbicide damage. That is: Twisting, curling and puckering of new growth, which begins about 24 hours after treatment. You would expect that the back would be fine, and the front of the bush nearest the grass would be damaged in the direction of the spray, and the lower part (near the grass) more. It looks like the topmost, sunniest part of the bush is most affected. You would expect that the weeds near it would be dead. You would expect that nearby flowers would also be affected. You would expect it to happen on a windy day (look up the wind records). The bush looks burned--I see no puckering or twisting.

    Other causes? Well the limestone mulch may have changed the pH of the soil. The stone mulch may have contributed to a build up of heat on a particularly hot and dry day. She may have treated the stone mulch with a vegetation killer to keep weeds out of the stones. (Ortho Triox comes to mind. Also Preen.)

    When the whole thing dies--I would usually expect something that affected the main stem or the roots such that no water could travel from the roots to the top. Verticillium wilt for instance.

    What kind of bush is this? Look up the main root diseases of this species of bush. Boring insects are another possibility. And mice that ate a ring of bark around the trunk girdling it, could also do this.

    Anything that came from the roof down that nearby downspout could cause a problem...even excess water. Check under the stones to see if the soil is dry or if the stones were applied over solid plastic with no holes for drainage and oxygen circulation. Was the bush planted without removing the burlap? Any sign of black vine weevils?

    If she gives you hard time offer to have it sent to a university or commercial lab for fungus and chemical analysis--as long as she pays the expense if it comes back non-herbicide.

    Live and learn. Its your job to be aware of things that could happen, but you will seldom change the customer's mind. You can offer to have some kind of tree and shrub specialist to take a look, (at her expense, if you are not the cause).
  4. turfmd101

    turfmd101 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,376

    My guess on limited information is the cambieum layer is to deep. This allowed for the outer bark to remain moist against the inner trunk ( cambieum layer ). This disables water and nutrient translocation which will eventually cause death if not dried out. It might have been impropriety installed and eventually could not continue to struggle. These are guesses if it is not chemical or mechanical damage,
  5. clydebusa

    clydebusa Inactive
    Messages: 1,660

    Need to pull it up and see what the roots look like.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  6. sjessen

    sjessen LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Knoxville, Tn
    Messages: 4,749

    Wonder is some type of insect or fungus did it in.
  7. RussellB

    RussellB LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,718

    I was thinking Leaf Hoppers. I lost several azalias in the past two years before I noticed the sap suckers. I would check all of her bushes for signs of insects.
  8. wildstarblazer

    wildstarblazer LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,051

    Don't forget about too much fertilizer also can kill a shrub fast.
  9. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,955

    K -- certainly nothing you did wrong. I don't even need to know the plant species, cuz of the obvious overall appearance of the shrub. You should not replace the shrub. It's a root problem. Lack of water, etc. If this customer wants to go further >> offer to send plant tissue samples to your land grant University. But get this in writing....if chemical results come out "negative", the customer must agree to cover the cost of the scientific tests as well as your time. I would keep track of your time involved in this whole situation. I personally charge $2.00 per minute ($120 per hour).

    my 2 cents/graduate horticulturist w/ 35 years in the industry

    p.s. odd that your customer displays our Country's Flag while trying to suck money from hard-working Americans when it ain't their fault??
  10. RAlmaroad

    RAlmaroad LawnSite Silver Member
    from SC
    Messages: 2,257

    There's a rule of business: "Everyone knows 500 people". Where it was done by you or some other cause, the woman will always blame you. To keep your name from being "Shi$", the best remedy is just to replace the thing. She will then tell all of her friends and part of the 500 people how great you are. Something better than advertising--it's free.
    Replace the bush and follow up with care and proper fertilizer,which is part of the professional attitude. I had to replace a day lily once that cause me $75 for just one bulb about the size of my thumb. But smiling as I did it and still remember the flower: "Charleston Glow". Stuff happens.

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