Burned Japanese Maples?

One of my repeat customers called a few minutes ago with a concern about his Japanese maple trees. (I am insured, so no concerns there.) He said there are two trees, one in a north facing “nook” of his house, the other near his back deck on the west side. He said that they look like they were “burned” by a chemical, and asked me what I used to wash his house. I told him it was chlorine. Told him I would replace anything that needed replacing, to which he replied that he has had these trees for 30 years and that they can’t really be replaced. (He was pleasant through all of this, he was just being matter-of-fact.) He said he was calling to 1. make me aware of the situation, and 2. to let me know so that I could be careful with other homes I wash.

Just wondering how this could happen. I down-streamed 10% SH that was diluted roughly 1/1 with water before being down-streamed. Then everything was rinsed thoroughly. I have washed his home, his deck, three patios, sidewalks, roof, and driveway, with all of those jobs minus the driveway using at least as much SH if not more and there were no issues. (Those jobs were last year.)

He himself admitted that it has been a very hard year (NW Ohio) for plants, and that he considered it odd that something so specific would happen to these two trees while leaving his HUNDREDS of other plants all around his house unaffected. He said he will be watering them a lot to see what happens.

Thanks for reading!

Japanese myrtles and anything with purple leaves so not like bleach. Another reason I stopped doing roofs. They are everywhere down here. Including my yard. Even ds solution will brown them. They are about the only thing that we pre wet


Fortunately they are rather rare in my area, with these being perhaps the only examples I have seen. (Of course, I don’t really have any grounds to say that, as I don’t tend to make note of them anyway. At any rate, these are certainly the only ones close enough to the home to have required caution.) I’m not sure whether I rinsed them beforehand or not, though I did instruct my ground-guy to do so while I cleaned a small portion of the roof. I do know that all areas were rinsed thoroughly afterwards.

Would you happen to know whether this will KILL them, or whether they will perk back up eventually? I’m not concerned about having to replace them, both because I have insurance and because he didn’t seem too keen on attempting to anyway. I am, however, concerned about the potential damage to my reputation, as he is prominent member of the local wealthy community.

I did my roof years ago,same thing happened to me ,they stayed burnt till fall ,next spring it was beautiful again.if there 30 years old, I wouldn’t worry about it


Japanese maples are pretty finicky plants the get leaf burn really easy. If you water it in the heat of the day and the sun hits the droplets it will scorch the leaves. You need to deeply water the tree 2 times a week for the next month. Roots only and early in the morning it should recover without any problems. If it’s truly a 30 year Japanese maple and not a 30 year old hybrid maple. Next time you do his house water the tree the day before. At least that’s what I do. If it’s a lace maple just call your insurance company they run between 2k and 4k to replace a caliber size tree

Tganks for the advice. Hr knows his plants quite well and says it is a japanese maple. Although I thought he said it was 4 feet tall, which would make it a dwarf maple, but I have no memory of a tree like that being there.

Can you post a picture of the leaves and the trunk. Not saying he is wrong but the majority of home owners cant tell the difference and only know what landscape guy told them. One way or the other I would water it twice a week for a month. Its worth the effort.

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do you have any before and after pics of the trees in question? if not then you need to start taking pictures of all your jobs.

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I don’t have any.

When you go back take them. If you had before pictures you may not even have a problem. I learned a long time ago ink is cheap and your phone stores all the pictures you take. Just take them when you do your pre inspection may save you alot of headache


we load all the before and after pictures to the customer factor. It has saved us a lot of headaches and arguing.

Same issue here, had one get a bit of curling after a downstream softwash despite pre and post rinsing.

You have to make sure the damage is caused by you and not nature itself. I have seen guys having issues with customers over the maple trees which turned out to be a tree fungal disease and not from the detergent.

Also be aware that Japanese Maples are susceptible to sunburn and heat exposure.

Whenever I encounter them, I prewet twice, and post rinse twice.

Giving them a nice bath will actually bring out the leaf colors after you leave.

Food for thought…

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True. My guess is that it had something to do with heat exposure at the very least. Perhaps the heat exposure with the DS mix was enough to burn the leaves. At any rate, the guy is still being very “cool” about the whole thing.

I hose them down before and after. Even if ilthey are 15 feet away from the house. Mist can spot them up. I did my roof and didnt pre wet or rinse anything off(no gutters) just to see what would happen. My wifes rose bushes leafs turned brown and looks dead. I hope it will make a come back next spring. It didn’t kill any grass though.

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I just got an email from a customer yesterday. Said we killed several Bayberry bushes and grasses (decorative bush type). My guy killed a few flowers this year because he didn’t rinse them before or after like I told him but I’ve never seen a bush die. I haven’t stopped by yet to see the damage. I’m tired of buying plants because he didn’t rinse them.

Bill, it sounds like it’s time to take action with your employee. Mistakes happen but it sounds like a blatant disregard for instruction and expectations.


Tell him you are a firm believer in eating anything you kill and hand him a bowl full of his died flowers.


This - or make the employee cover the damages that they cost.

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Fire him

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