Neighborhood alert: Plants damaged by unsolicited yard work

This is one of the oddest cases we’ve heard about lately, and J & A – who e-mailed to tell the story – fully acknowledge it pales in comparison to some of what we’ve had to report on recently. Nonetheless, they do want to put out the alert about someone who came into their yard and did work without permission – damaging work at that – read on:

Some of your readers will find it silly and even stupid that we’re as upset about this as we are, but others of your reader-gardeners will understand and might want to know.

When we got home (Sunday) someone had done all our yard work – mowed the lawn, trimmed the bushes and the roses, and cut back some of the plants. We take great pride in taking care of our yard, and wouldn’t hire anyone else to do it – most of our plants are rare, some are unique, and many are hard to grow in Seattle. We have a lot of young plants that we’ve been putting in this spring. We have to trim very carefully, and spend a lot of time watching over all of them.

The yard work damaged many of our plants, one right down at the base of the trunk so we’ll see if that one survives. One set of plants only produces new leaves twice a year, and most of the new leaves were “trimmed” off – and this is the first time those plants have produced new leaves since we transplanted them last summer. We were looking forward to seeing these plants finally recover and establish themselves in our new yard. Many of our plants are edible, and with the “trimming” that was done we won’t get to enjoy some of the fruits of our labors. The trimming wasn’t done very well either – leaves, twigs, and stems are all torn up, not nicely clipped.

Anyway – it’s an odd crime – trespassing and doing “yard work” but from where we stand it is extensive damage. We’ve filed a report with the police. The guy even left a card with his phone number on it. I think he hopes we’ll like his work and hire him. On the plus side, plants grow and it’s not a crime where anyone was hurt. We’re still sad.

Thanks for passing this on to the other proud gardeners out there,

J & A
Near Jefferson Square Safeway

20 Replies to "Neighborhood alert: Plants damaged by unsolicited yard work"

  • Adam May 4, 2009 (7:15 am)

    This sort of Seattle passive-aggressiveness drives me INSANE. What company was it? Warn other people! Have you called the person that left a card to ask what happened? Maybe he wrote down an address improperly?

  • ann May 4, 2009 (7:36 am)

    Odd indeed, but it does kind of sound like a case of someone getting an address wrong.

    Sorry about your plants though, how incredibly frustrating!

  • Cynthia May 4, 2009 (8:12 am)

    Seriously, just put the company’s name here in the comments! I don’t want to hire these guys either!

  • rykrite May 4, 2009 (8:36 am)

    Did you contact the person who left the card? What was their response?

  • Betsy May 4, 2009 (8:52 am)

    I agree, sounds like they got the wrong address. Easy to do in Seattle. I’m so sorry for your growing plants, I know I would have cried. I hope they compensate you!

  • d May 4, 2009 (9:05 am)

    Well, that was no doubt a weird scene to come home to for you guys. I’d be bummed too.

  • Johnny Davies May 4, 2009 (9:22 am)

    I’m having a hard time beleiving that you feel this was malicious. I can empathize that what was done to your property isn’t what you wanted or requested, but in this day and age hardly ANY business or organization does advance work for FREE in hopes of getting future work. It was a case of mistaken address, most likely by an employee. I’d predict that if you call the business they will apologize profusely for the mistake. That doesn’t bring your plants back, but they may opt to replace plants that don’t.

  • B-Squared May 4, 2009 (10:37 am)

    Johnny Davies – i didn’t think their report of what was done to their yard sounded malicious at all. And the unsolicited “work” that was done was actually damage! I would very frustrated. i hope that they contacted the guy that left the card to ascertain whether or not the address was wrong (regardless, it sounds like the work was of poor quality). I hope they share the outcome of that conversation with us so we don’t hire this person.

  • Mary T. May 4, 2009 (10:52 am)

    !!!! That is horrifying! I would be so livid and upset if I came home and that was done. Who was the company? If the work was bad, we should know! And they should pay you what they would have made on the job!

  • al May 4, 2009 (10:59 am)

    I found a business card on my front porch advertising tree “triming”. You can only imagine their attention to detail when they can’t even proof read their own card. By law, all landscape companies that trim trees and shrubs must have a contractor license #. Do your homework or get schooled!

  • KatherineL May 4, 2009 (11:11 am)

    You are too kind to say it’s not important. This is property damage. Property damage is a crime. It may have been mistake, but it’s still damage. It’s as bad or worse than splashing paint on a wall. A wall can be repainted right away. Some of these plants may never recover.

  • J & A May 4, 2009 (12:51 pm)

    Thank you for your kind words – we now feel like we’re not crazy to be upset about this.

    It wasn’t done by a “company” that I can warn you about, or that I can go to for reparations – the guy left a handwritten index card with his name and phone number.

    The name is common enough that I’m not going to release it for now, I’m sorry. If it were a company I’d tell you after I had finished discussing it with the police. Since it’s just a name, I don’t want another person out there to have a harder time just because he’s got the same name.

    Also, the guy offered to do our neighbor’s yard too, but our neighbor was home and turned him away. That’s when he started on our yard. This is what convinces me it wasn’t simply a mistaken address.

    I wish it was just a mistake, and I wish it was a big reputable company who would really want to spend the time and effort to correct this so it wouldn’t reflect on their name. As it is, the best I can think is the guy was just desperate to create new customers.

    Or maybe it was a misdirected “Pay it Forward” just trying to do something nice for us, that turned out not so nice.

    If I change my mind and think you would actually benefit from the name I will come back and release it here.

  • Hillary May 4, 2009 (12:57 pm)

    J&A – What a violation of privacy! In my opinion, this is as bad as having your house robbed. I hope your plants recover…and the person who did this never ever does it again. A lot of “landscapers” and “gardeners” have no formal training – so this is a good reminder to all of us (at least, I know it is to me!) to ask about credentials when hiring people to tend to our precious plants. Anyway, thank you for sharing your story – hopefully you saved others from unsolicited garden grooming!

  • Wally Wilson May 4, 2009 (2:36 pm)

    This is very definitely both trespassing and some form of premeditated vandalism.

    It is the same (legally) as painting someone’s house violent violet while they are gone. First, they trespassed. Second, there is damage that has a direct, financial impact on the home/property owners. Third, this kind of “accident” is impossible to quantify as a “wrong address” in the world of Google Maps and Tom Tom/GPS.

    It seems only right that the person who did the deed be held accountable for making things as right as can be made…I mean, profit (the anticipation of creating a new customer) is something that can be readily shown here.

  • Mustafa May 5, 2009 (10:52 am)

    If you find out who did the unsolicited yard work maybe you could suggest they stop by our house on 41st and Holly street. We could use some unsolicited mowing, weeding and trimming.

  • sam May 5, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    I can’t believe that this happened. I too would be LIVID if someone trespassed on my property and destroyed plants that I’ve put countless hours into raising. hopefully, you are able to reach some resolution/ agreement for repair with the perpetrator.

    with regards to plants that are unique and hard to grow in Seattle…if those look like they won’t make it, you could replace them with native plants, in honor of this week’s native plant appreciation week.

    there are lots of events, including native plant sale at Bellevue botanical garden, and the festival of trees sponsored by Plant Amnesty at Sand Point Magnuson park this Sunday.

  • KateMcA May 5, 2009 (3:31 pm)

    Ugh! That must be the strangest thing I’ve ever heard, and I am so sorry that it happened to you! I would be so angry and feel so violated if this happened to me. I hope it didn’t do permanent damage to your plants.

  • Sam May 11, 2009 (9:07 am)

    Get over it, it’s not that big of a deal, the guy sounds like he was just trying to help you out.

  • J & A May 11, 2009 (12:43 pm)


    Indeed – we try to have mostly native plants, but there are a few fruit trees we couldn’t resist attempting.

  • dorainseattle May 30, 2009 (9:30 am)

    This sounds like the car window washers in New York who come up to your car while you are stopped at a light and start washing your windows, then ask, demand, money.

    It was the right thing to do to contact the police and warn others. This guy would otherwise do this again.

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