Killed a tree, maybe

I recently did a soffit/gutter clean on a really nasty one story house, which required some 3%. I did soak down the foliage with water but apparently it killed their fir tree. I initially tried to avoid that section due to the tree but she insisted.

This is a house right around the corner from me, they approached me on a nightly walk and I agreed to give them a slightly discounted rate but it turned out to be a nightmare, took me WAY longer than it should have.

I got a call yesterday and they said their “tree turned brown the day after” and cut it down. This was about two weeks ago, I’m scheduled to do her small driveway and front steps, she’s quite old but keeps pointing out ‘spots I missed’ under her front entry that need hand cleaning.

I plan to just talk with her tomorrow about the plan of action, just curious what you all would do in this situation.

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I’ve never seen one turn brown in a day, especially the whole thing. Was the gutter dumping on it?
About all you can do is go buy a tree and plant it. But can’t believe they cut down without calling you to come look at first.


Wow a whole tree dead in one day……did you spray directly on the tree? That is wild….not sure what I would do. I guess most likely I would buy another tree and plant it. You have before pics of the tree?

Rare occurrence, and it wouldn’t die in a day. Even if it did, we tell people to give it a few months to recover, if possible. Most things will revitalize in time. One unusual one was a bush where the downspout ended maybe 3" from the base. It got a bag on it, but the kink required backed up and the bag popped off… we just bought them a new bush right away (once the Mrs. of the house stopped crying…)

Unfortunately no before pics, it did go above their roof so a fairly sizable tree. I don’t see planting another tree to be a viable option as it probably had pretty deep roots and God only knows what utilities lines are down there.

Also I did some Google-fu and it seems to have been a hemlock or larch, has really short, flexible needles.

Oh no!! That’s the one i killed along with a cedar hedge once and it cost me around 5k to replace. Not kidding.

Uh, I think whoever the lumberjack is killed the tree. You may have shocked the tree but I highly doubt it was dead. Like others have said, sometimes it’s best to wait a few weeks to see if it starts coming back around. Personally, I wouldn’t reimburse anything as you were never notified of the “damage” before someone destroyed the evidence.


How long ago was that? How long after you washed did they cut the tree down?

It’s been about two weeks ago, not sure exactly when they cut it down, I’ll ask tomorrow.

What did you spray it with, your 12v? In tight confines, a light spray from a pump up is your friend


Funny you mentioned that, I finally got a sprayer and used it for railings behind this sucker. Worked like a dream.


An update, I finally got the second half of the job done, she was super nice about it and her daughter felt a little embarrassed for cutting the tree down. I took $200 off her driveway so she’s happy and will hand out my business cards.

I’m taking @Racer advice and using a pump up sprayer for ‘surgical’ stuff like that.


good for you and for trying to make it right with the customer. Looking at your pic, and depending on the tree type and it’s condition at the time, I seriously doubt you did that. In your pic the flowers are downhill from the gutter and they look healthy. The tree was above that level. Some tree roots go out and some go down, so maybe it hit the roots hard. One day, that seems pretty dodgy. I’ve watched some trees get hit by a poison in the ground in my field, it normally takes weeks for them to turn brown.

$200 is worth it to be over and done with though I don’t see how anyone could determine the tree was dead in a day.


I would have asked them to give it some time to recover.

We burned a Japanese Maple last year. Looked dead. I asked the customer to give it some time.

A few weeks later there were new leaf shoots. I was there a few weeks ago and it looked brand new.

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Now you can add ‘tree removal’ to your list of services.


Probably $200 well spent. Chalk that one up to educational expense.

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Definitely. I look at it this way, I still made over $100/hr which is way over what I would be making sitting in some cubicle.


I was being silly. The other plants in the photo sure look healthy and they are far more delicate. With your experience and your track record, if you were using methods dangerous to vegetation you would have figured it out a while back. Another vote for the lumberjack.