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Contractors Wanted: Does it Cost Extra to Ruin Our Plants?

April 16, 2009


I have a serious, deep-seeded loathing for contractors right now.  I even put off exercising tonight just to rant about my experience.  Here’s the scenario [as I pound on the keyboard], the glass company was scheduled to replace two side living room windows with tempered glass. Upon coming home from work today, I discovered that my Winter Daphne was split, I mean split, in TWO.  What in the freak happened?!  Were the installers playing trampoline in the middle of my daphne?  Un-freaking-believable!


This isn’t the first incident of planticide committed by hired contractors.  Below is a picture of my poor Aspidistras that were trampled by a company my neighbor hired to replace our shared fencing.  They had been there for two years and cost almost $10 a piece!  Why in the world do they not say, “hey lady, your plants are in the way.  You might want to move them if you don’t want them ruined.” I would have gladly dug them up temporarily until the job was completed.   Not to mention they replaced the fence in late fall when it was pouring rain.  Now the already clay soil is like concrete.


More Plants Damaged by Contractors

  • One Peony by the concrete people.  How? Who knows.  It was no where near the pathway for their wheelbarrows.
  • One Rosemary Bed by the concrete people.  Sure, why not use my herb garden to rinse the concrete off your grimy tools.
  • Three Potted Clumping Bamboo by the fence company.  Oh, while you’re spraying finish on the neighbors fence, why don’t you give my bamboo some color too.
  • One Winter Daphne by the painter.  Yep, same plant, but first offense by the painter.  We had even pruned all our plants away from the house to avoid this very problem.
  • All Foundation Plants by the painter.  What do you mean you don’t cover my plants before spraying my house?

What To Learn From My Mistakes

  1. Ask your contractor how they deal with homeowner’s plants.  Possible questions to ask up front:  Will you cover all the plants before painting my house?  What plants will be in your way?  Do you move them or should I move them [I recommend you moving them]?
  2. What is your policy for replacing the plants you do ruin?  Oh yeah, and I don’t mean a 1 gallon replacement, I planted this [whatever the plant] 5 years ago.
  3. Absolutely do NOT pay your invoice until the job, the clean up, and the plant replacements are to your satisfaction.

Well, one blog post and one beer later…I finally feel better.  But now I feel bad for not exercising.

How have you protected your landscape from hired contractors? Please share for the benefit of others.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 16, 2009 10:00 pm

    When we did an addition on our house several years ago, we lost our beloved Persimmon tree. The contractors stacked all the extra wood and tools against the tree and I suspect they also cleaned their stuff at the base. As the construction continued, the tree died a slow horrible death. It was sad.

    Sorry for your losses. But I think your suggestions are all good ones. We need to ask more questions and be more on top of things. People underestimate the value of plants. They are an investment and if the contractors aren’t going to be careful, we lose out big time!

    • April 17, 2009 7:31 am

      I completely agree Theresa! People don’t understand the VALUE of plants. As homeowners, we have to look out for our investments because the hired helped sure don’t.

      So sorry about your Persimmon tree. Man, I would be so made about a tree. The years they take to reach maturity and the value they add to your property. What a crushing story!

      Thanks for your time to comment.

  2. April 17, 2009 8:51 am

    Jayme: Your first mistake was in not checking to see if all the contractor’s employees actually walk upright. Always check the back of the knuckles – if their rough and callused it means they just emerged from the primordial ooze and might not be accustomed to breathing air yet.

    Next, do everything you outlined in your “What To Learn…” I’m sorry for the hard lesson. Definitely require replacement of plants based on their actual size and photograph the work areas so it’s not his word against yours. When I hire any contractor for my parks and recreation projects in Santa Barbara we have an extensive walk-through with the contractor and require that the job superintendent who will be supervising the work attend. That might be a bit much for residential work, but it’s key to getting a good outcome.

    Thanks for bringing it to the attention of others.

  3. April 18, 2009 5:39 pm

    Your post is perfectly timed! I spent this morning digging up my two front garden beds in preparation for the deck construction that starts Wednesday. I am TERRIFIED of what may happen, despite having warned the guy in my most uncertain terms of how important my garden is to me. There are a few plants I just can’t move and for those I am most worried. Then there are also all the perennials and small shrubs now sitting in containers by the side of the driveway…fingers crossed!

    • April 27, 2009 9:34 pm

      How funny Ellen. Tis the contractor season…let the games begin. I hope everything worked out well and your plants were spared.

  4. billy Goodnick permalink
    April 27, 2009 9:50 pm

    You have to stake out a safe area aroud the important plants and fence it. Don’t allow vehicles that can compact the soil or dupling of ‘spoils’ and liquids. Be fierce.

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