• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Help! A lawn care company treated my chemical-free lawn in error. What can I do?

 
Jenny Thomas
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If anyone has advise for me on this issue, I welcome it! A few questions I have are: What action can I take to reverse the chemical assault? What actions are reasonable to expect of the business owner? How long will this one-time treatment be dangerous to my family's health?

I live in Oklahoma City, Ok. Yesterday, my entire backyard and a portion of the front were treated, in error, by a lawn care company. They sprayed Pendulum (pendamethalin), Vessle (2,4,D, propionic acid, dicambia combo) and colored dye. I have three children ages 5-months, 3-years and 6-years. For many years, our lawn has been managed by a natural lawn care company. A week ago, the natural company laid a corn gluten treatment for pre-emergent. Yesterday, I witnessed the other company's lawn care worker REMOVE the natural lawn care company's signage from my lawn to begin treating the front. I stopped them, but unfortunately, they had already treated the back yard and side yard.

Another sad piece to this story is that we have a day-old, wooden play set in the back. There is green stain all around its border and up the rock wall portion. Also, I am not allowing my children on the lawn. (But the company told me it would be fine for them to play in 2-4 hours. I don't buy it. Actually, the business owner didn't seem to think it was a big deal, just a trivial, human error, and a free lawn treatment for us.)

What can I - what should I - do about this? Any input or perspective is appreciated. Thank you.
 
Roger Rhodes
Posts: 16
Location: Oklahoma
chicken food preservation forest garden
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you feel strongly enough to see it through, I believe your only option to see anything come of this is to get a lawyer.  If the result is excavate and rebuild or just financial, it would be the same route.  As far as immediate and residual threat, I'm no chemist.
 
wayne fajkus
Posts: 608
9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sounds like it was unintentional so you have to decide how far you want to go.

What are you willing to do? Small claims court would be the least expensive option if your looking for a monetary resolution but it has a maximum allowable amount which probably varies by state. You have to explain how you accumulated the damages equal to what you are asking.

If you want to punish them, then a media assault might be in order. Place a review anywhere you can find one.  Tell your story.

Or, ask your normal guy if there is any remediation.  Ask the other company to pay for it. This seems reasonable and allows them to own the problem.If they decline, go back to other 2 options.
 
Craig Dobbson
gardener
Posts: 1514
Location: Maine (zone 5)
139
chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
From the stand point of a home owner, I'd be pissed that somebody walked on my land and removed signage and then applied toxic substances to my land.  That seems like a blatant violation of property rights to some degree. 

Generally we avoid the chemical talk here on permies as it tends  to breakdown into chaos talk, so I'll just keep this brief. 

On the chemical front, I'd do a lot of research into exactly what they applied to the lawn.  I did a basic looking over of some of it and I think that you have certain cause for concern when you've got young kids playing in a lawn that's just been sprayed.  Pendamethalin is a toxin that prevents cell growth in weedy grasses and some broad leaf "weeds". It has a soil half life of 90 days and is very soluable in water.  I suggest looking to see if there is a corrective treatment  that will aid it in breaking down faster.   The 2,4,D + is a  synthetic plant hormone that causes uncontrolled cell growth.  It's a nasty one that's shown to effect sperm production and leads to infertility in men. (usually the men that are constantly applying the shit).

Both of these chemicals are listed as being "possible" carcinogens. I read through some of the literature but it seems to me that the damage is done and now you'll have to find a way to neutralize the chemistry or wait for it to breakdown on it's own, which may take a while. 

I'd keep my kids off of it for a while and probably try to water it into the soil ASAP.  My understanding is that both chemicals are water soluable and that there are biological actors in the soil  (bacteria and fungi) that are capable of going to work on the toxic stuff.  Again, it's gonna take time.  If I had access to it, I might just completely cover my lawn in a foot of wood chips and wait it out.  I'd make the offending company pay for it.  I'd demand a written acknowledgement and apology of the incident from them.  I'd probably suggest to them that they need to make it right with the kids too. 

I hope you find a good corrective method.  Please come back and let us know how it works out for you.

Best of luck
 
Casie Becker
pollinator
Posts: 1184
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
73
forest garden urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Were you home when they started this process? Considering the competitor's sign should have given them a heads up that you might not want their poisons on your property, they should have at the very least, knocked on your door before they started spraying. Even without such a sign I would consider that common courtesy. Is your back yard fenced? Did they have to go through the front to get to the back (as in, do they consider their own poisons so toxic that they back out of the areas as they apply them)?

At the very least, even if these are fast degrading and relatively nontoxic chemicals (which I'm not confident of) they are still responsible for repairing or replacing that brand new play set. Hopefully they are willing to work with you for restitution without having to drag anyone through the hassle of a court case.

Maybe someone here has some idea of what can be done to reduce the impact of the chemicals on the rest of the lawn. I'd have strong hopes that a biologically healthy lawn will quickly recover from a single assault. On the other hand, I in no way believe 24 hours will render any of their chemicals inert. At the most, in that time I would expect the liquid components to dry so they are not so easily tracked into the house. That's not the same thing at all.

I agree with the thought of posting reviews on whatever social media they use for advertisement. One of the small business scams that occasionally pops up is for a business to do unasked for work and then bill the homeowner for it. With that in mind, I can't help but wonder how many other addresses they 'accidentally' treat. I could just be paranoid, though.

 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1179
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
112
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How did this happen? Were they trespassing and mistook your address for another place they had been contracted for? Or had the previous lawn care company handed the contract over to them without your knowledge and without specifying your preferences? Or was a different owner involved in changing the contract or something?

Would rain help rinse the chemicals away? And if so, would a lengthy sprinkler sessions help wash the lawn? It's really aggravating that just as springtime is about to arrive you don't feel comfortable letting your own kids romp in their own yard!
 
Craig Dobbson
gardener
Posts: 1514
Location: Maine (zone 5)
139
chicken food preservation forest garden hugelkultur rabbit trees
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
one more thing... get pictures of the green dye on anything that's not lawn.  It shows over spray, improper application and damage to your property.  Might be useful if you end up in front of a judge or whatever. Pictures area  good way of adding to an online review of a company too.  Even people who don't care about the chemical aspect, might care about how it looks after when half of anything that touches the ground is stained green.

  
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2376
79
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
wayne fajkus wrote:
Sounds like it was unintentional so you have to decide how far you want to go.



This is what tort lawyers live for.  At the very least, the lawn care company has liability insurance, and you should call them and ask them if they intend to make you whole before you have to call your lawyer.

Now how to remediate the problem?  Let me quote from one of my posts way back when I first showed up here:

Here is a reasonable plan of attack: (1) get a truckload of mulch that contains lots of tannins. Oak leaves would be perfect, what you want to avoid is actual structural wood like pine logs or lumber or wood shavings or newspaper, those things are all cellulose. (2) dump the pile where you can water it daily. (3) Go on a mushroom hunt for some white-rot fungi. You can start here with Phanerochaete chrysosporium, which is pretty easy to collect from the underside of a well rotted log. (4) Take your sample of white-rot fungi and whiz it in the blender, say a quarter cup of scrapings in a liter of water. (5) Sprinkle this over the pile of mulch and water it in good. You don't need to bother to cover it, the sun may dry out the top inch or so, but you want to water the pile every evening. Remember that advice when NOT to water your garden because it might cause fungal problems? Now is the time to break that rule -- you want the fungus to take off. After a few weeks, depending on the temperature, you should be able to dig into the pile a few inches and see gobs and gobs of white mycelia. This is good. Now the fungus is ready to do its work detoxifying your lawn. (6) Wait for a day when there is heavy rain forecast and get out before (or during if you don't mind getting wet) and spread your pile of prepared mulch out over your lawn. Not more than an inch thick, you want the heavy rain to beat down on the mulch and drench the fungal mycelia and spores into the soil. 


Mycoremediation isn't the solution to all problems, just most of them.
 
Jenny Thomas
Posts: 3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you all for your input. I'm new to this forum, so if I post my reply incorrectly or in a confusing manner, I apologize! I was home when the company sprayed, but I did not hear them enter the backyard. I'm kicking myself about that. I was getting ready to leave for a baby appointment and dealing with the potty-training toddler and baby's diaper change, so I've forgiven myself for being distracted. I caught them spraying the front yard - and removing our natural lawn treatment sign - as I opened my garage door to leave. In fact, if I hadn't been leaving, we may not have ever known what company was responsible.

They did not ring my bell to let me know they were here. They had to go through our backyard gate to access the yard. We do not have a lock on it, but we will be adding one this weekend. I did call the police department about filing a report. The officer told me, because it sounded like unintentional trespassing, it wasn't a criminal issue, but a civil one. However, he also said I could file a police report with him at a later time, if we wished to do so.

I spoke with the two lawn technicians. Their paperwork clearly had a different address. Their GPS map, which they showed me on a phone, took them directly to my address. They said something about how they needed to talk to the office about the gps locations as they didn't always match the homeowners address.

I am not sure how far we want to take this. The business owner, when called by my husband, offered no solution other than to water it in.

Our regular lawn business owner didn't know of any way to neutralize the chemicals. He too suggested the watering. He was angry, and he also told me this has happened to his customers before. He also said that accidental treatments do happen from time to time, even by his company. He felt the business owner should have offered to help us, though.

I came to this forum hoping to learn other perspectives and ideas - and you are sharing those - thank you!

I'm concerned about the toxicity. We are exposed to enough in society that we go out of our way to reduce exposure in the one place we can - our home. My 5-month-old will be crawling soon, and he should be able to do so in our backyard. I appreciate you allowing a little discussion on the chemical end of this. I realize I may need to dig deeper on that angle. I know that these are standard lawn treatment chemicals, so hopefully one application can be resolved more readily. Even so, this is my yard, and our choices have been compromised.

The wood mulch idea is certainly something I never would have thought about trying. Could you direct me to more references to understand more about this approach? I had wondered about adding a thick layer of topsoil. Seems the mulch is thinking along a similar line.

I have no problem asking the responsible company to help us mitigate the effects and correct their overspray. I'm trying to learn what might improve the situation before making a request.

Yes, this is very unfortunate timing. Warmer spring days are here and a new play set calls to our kids. Thank you all, again.
 
Jenny Thomas
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is a very interesting and detailed approach to detoxifying the lawn, John Elliot. Thank you for sharing.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2376
79
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jenny Thomas wrote:

The wood mulch idea is certainly something I never would have thought about trying. Could you direct me to more references to understand more about this approach? I had wondered about adding a thick layer of topsoil. Seems the mulch is thinking along a similar line.



Here is the word from the expert:


Paul has many more videos on YouTube.
 
moose poop looks like football shaped elk poop. About the size of this tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!