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Gardener has damaged trees with a strimmer

Discussion in 'Trees' started by BobbysMum, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. BobbysMum

    BobbysMum Apprentice Gardener

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    I am in the midst of a difficult situation. I have a holiday home and over the last two years we have wondered why the smaller trees around the property look very ill and one has died. On a recent visit we were shocked to see that now four trees are either dead or on the way out and very ill. I have found out that the damage has been done by a man who cuts the grass for us with his strimmer. The trees have quite extensive scarring on the bases and I immediately informed the man to stop cutting the grass further and highlighted what has happened. He states he is not to blame and seems to have no clue to what he has done. Our next trip will now involve having five trees removed he has killed. I still have an outstanding payment to him and naturally all he is worried about is being paid and states he is not to blame. Has anyone else had a similar experience to this? It is all very frustrating and uncomfortable.
     
  2. Liz the pot

    Liz the pot Gardener

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    It happens a lot, trees, brickwork and so on. Young trees can have protectection put around them but it's fairly common to see line damage.
    Some gardeners will use roundup round the base of trees to create a small barrier so that there is no need to use line round them,or you place the plastic or wire tree protectors round them to prevent damage.
    The trouble is there's no 100% proof he's killed them even though the bark is damaged and so if he was to chase you up for the money I would just pay him and find someone else if you don't wish to use him again.
    Next time stipulate your rules about garden work and have it written down.
     
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    • BobbysMum

      BobbysMum Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks Liz for your response and thoughts on this matter. I have had an arborist confirm it is strimmer damage but as you say that is not 100% proof and the man does not understand what I am talking about. It is such a shame and I will now incur costs to remove and replace the trees because someone I paid to look after the garden transpires to have little knowledge regarding what he is doing with the equipment he is using. It is all very awkward. You suggestion about laying down the garden work first is very good and I will heed this in future.
       
    • Liz the pot

      Liz the pot Gardener

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      Unfortunately you find that with many in and out and maintenance work is done quick and then move to the next job. You see them running with mowers and letting rip with brush cutters and it's hard to find a good company or sole trader who cares about the quality of work.
      Does the tree chap know anyone who could help you? As he's local he should have some good contacts in the trade.
       
    • Verdun

      Verdun Passionate gardener

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      Have to agree with Liz the pot :). Advice is spot on
      Damage is done and you could end up paying a whole lot more if you take the legal route.
      I see damage caused by council men with their weed sprayers.....often they lack knowledge or care in their work.
      Bobbysmum, if this guy works for a firm you could write a letter, email or phone explaining the situation and cancelling the contract. I would also pay him to date but no more. Let us know hot you get on
       
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      • BobbysMum

        BobbysMum Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks for your time and replies Liz the pot & Verdun, I have had tree work done before in the area on the VERY big trees I have so do have some contacts in that respect. The man in question with the devil strimmer is a local semi-retired 'one his own man' and not a firm (this is a cash in hand arrangement). As you suggest this is undoubtedly a severe lack of knowledge on his part. I wonder what other trees he is destroying. I have really learnt a harsh lesson from this experience.
         
      • silu

        silu gardening easy...hmmm

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        As others before have said I'd definitely pay what's due (swear under breath while doing so:)). I presume you don't live that close to the holiday home and therefore if you cause a real fuss (justifiable) the man could get up to all sorts of mischief when you were not in residence.
        From what you describe the lack of knowledge/care is very common. My late parents lived in a village which was full of holiday homes. My father called the people employed to look after the holiday home gardens as slaughterers not gardeners!
        Maybe ask other people in the area who they use to look after their gardens. It is quite easy unfortunately to effectively ring bark trees when strimming round them, I've done it myself:wallbanging:. Perhaps if you intend to replace the trees you could get bark guards. I have them on some of my young trees for just such protection and to stop the flaming deer gnawing on them.
         
      • BobbysMum

        BobbysMum Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks for your thoughts Silu. Really helpful. "slaughterers not gardeners!" - that just made me smile and has pretty much captured it. Another awkward element I had not aforementioned was the man was recommended by one of the neighbours. I already have someone else in mind to take over whom when I was there also saw the damage and they commented on how bad it was. Any new trees I will make sure they have a proper guard around.
         
      • shiney

        shiney President, Grumpy Old Men's Club Staff Member

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        Have to agree with the others and, unfortunately, you need to put it down to experience (or lack of experience on behalf of the gardener).

        There's little you can do about it as it's a cash in hand job as he certainly won't have any insurance. going to court about it would be a waste of time, and money. He could claim that you employed him and he thought you were deducting tax at source. Therefore you would be the employer. :noidea: Rather technical - and not worth bothering about. :sad: :grphg:
         
      • Marley Farley

        Marley Farley Affable Admin! Staff Member

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        I have to agree 100% with shiny sadly.....
         
      • BobbysMum

        BobbysMum Apprentice Gardener

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        Thanks Shiny and Marley. I really appriciate your feedback. I was not considering taking any drastic action but I have rather calmly explained what has happened to the trees and why to him and how disappointed I am. I was hoping he would revert back with a compromise as this is now going to cost me additional money but he just cannot understand what the problem is. Ho hum...
         
      • pete

        pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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        I've seen this kind of damage done to trees in our local parks, its basic knowledge that you dont do this to trees, but there are a lot of cowboys out there.
        Even councils employ them.

        Unfortunately any old tom dick or harry can do a bit of gardening, and not have any come back.
        A friend once had the rear window on his car broken by a contractor with a strimmer, stones flying every where, on the pavement and into the road.

        When tackled red handed he just said, nothing to do with me mate and carried on.
        No way it could be proved it was him.

        I think you just have to bite the bullet, tell him why you are getting rid of him and mention it to locals.
         
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        • glasgowdan

          glasgowdan Gardener

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          He 100% understands, by the way. He's acting dumb.
           
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          • PaulB3

            PaulB3 Gardener

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            Is your 'gardener' , (sounds like a euphemism for complete idiot) a bit slow ????
            Strimmers can do irrepairable damage to shrubs and trees , tearing the bark and terminating the flow of nutrients to maintain growth .:nonofinger:
             
          • HarmonyArb

            HarmonyArb Gardener

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            Plenty of experience, and worse. Unfortunately I find that people in general don't care much for trees because they see them as a permanent fixture that's just always there; doesn't do anything; doesn't need anything; doesn't get damaged, etc...

            In my opinion trees; especially newly planted and young standards, should be planted with no other vegetation around them - especially grass. Not only are trees at the risk of strimmer damage but grass can often absorb the water and nutrients that the tree needs.

            Also I don't agree with spraying weed killer such as Roundup at the base of trees. Golf courses practice this to a great extent and personal experience shows me it is not without risk to the tree also. I don't believe trees won't absorb at least some of the mixture - they can't filter out unwanted particles!

            Anyway, sorry to hear about your troubles. Don't waste your time on your gardener - just kick him into touch. Remove and replant if neccessary, trying to follow tree planting best practices at all times.
             
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