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Standard of Care of Applying Fungicides to large trees along property border

Discussion in 'Homeowner Helper Forum' started by Atomic1, Jun 15, 2018.

  1. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    Hi there, my neighbor has about a dozen pine trees that are currently about 60' tall and 8' off the property border. We found that he's having them sprayed by a company every two weeks with a fungicide via the applicator standing on their property and shooting the material at and above the top of the trees. This obviously results in significant application to my property, well beyond a mist drift.

    We also found that the fungicide is ornamental only, and this stuff is going directly into our food garden. Furthermore, the label says you shouldn't be in the applied areas for 24 hours.

    Whats the standard of care in cases like this? Are trees of this size and location even sprayable without consent of neighboring owners?
     
  2. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I try REALLY hard to not spray onto a neighboring property. I may stand in the neighbor's yard and spray into the client's yard.

    Beyond what I'd consider common courtesy, there are regulations that will vary by State. I know in Ohio, the neighbor can request to be notified in advance which then is a required responsibility for the applicator. I looked quickly and didn't find it, but you can search more for PA: http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plant...-safety/pesticide-programs/Pages/default.aspx

    Also...are you friendly with your neighbor? If so, I'd suggest you talk to them about it to let them know what is happening. My guess is, they won't be happy about that either. If you talk to the contractor directly, they may blow you off (or they may apologize and change tactics - hard to know). But if their client asks them to change, I'd suspect they'll be more inclined to respond appropriately at the risk of losing a client.
     
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  3. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    Yea, i'm up on PA law. There's no legal requirement for notification. Our legal paths are notifying the department of agriculture of a misapplication, or suing for nuisance and property damage.

    The neighbor is semi friendly, but at the same time self centered. He's of the opinion that because he hired a professional, that they're applying in a professional manner. Problem is, when we first found them spraying, the applicator was negligent as they were spraying in a 25mph wind headed towards our property, without checking first that we had people in the yard. Plus, they seem to have no consideration of applying an ornamental only spray to our food garden.

    We did bring it up to the neighbor, and he says he reprimanded the sprayer, but they still dont give us a courtesy of a heads up.

    At the end of the day, I was just curious about what the general standard should have been for this arborist of spraying such a large line of trees along the property line. In speaking with another local, he was of the opinion that they should have been at least offering to tarp the garden and let us know the "off limits" time for the product 24hrs so we dont have the kids walking through it.
     
  4. Del_

    Del_ Life is but a song we sing.

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    By all means complain to the Department of Agriculture. Fungicides can be quite toxic. The applications must be stopped. Don't let idiots exposed you and your family to toxic chemicals. The Department of Agriculture will be quite interested and can even yank application licenses.
     
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  5. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    Yep, I was just curious about what the general standard should have been for this arborist of spraying a line of large trees along the property line. Is it commonplace for an applicator to consult with the neighbor regarding the application to a clients property?
     
  6. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    No...not commonplace to notify neighbors. Not is drifting onto the neighbors standard practice. Nor is spraying in 25mph winds. There MAY be a wind speed limit on the label. Some have it, some don't. Some states have wind speed laws. I know Ohio doesn't - they just say the wind cannot cause the product to drift causing harm to non-target areas. You could certainly argue your garden was harmed given the product is not labeled for food crops. I'd confirm what they are using and make a decision about harvesting anything from the garden once you know what that is. You may need to go through Dept. of Ag. to find out what they sprayed if the contractor or neighbor won't share.
     
  7. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    After pestering the applicator for a week, they indicated it was a fungicide called Strider (manufactured by nufarm) This stuff is only intended for ornamentals. Nufarm replied in writing that no food crops sprayed with this should be consumed.

    This applicator has locations nationwide, and they have been nothing short of arrogant and non-communicative.
     
  8. CacaoBoy

    CacaoBoy ArboristSite Member

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    Regardless of any applicable standard of care, you have an issue of the tort of trespassing. That would probably be a more viable cause of action in this case than the nuisance you have considered because your harm occurs when the fungicide comes to rest on your property. In most jurisdictions a trespass may occur from any intrusion on one's property caused by another person even if that person does not bodily enter onto the land. Hurling rocks onto your land from a distant location could constitute trespassing. Unleashing chemicals onto your land woud probably be viewed the same, although local law may differ.

    There is the potential problem, however, of proving that the fungicide actually landed on your property rather than to drift airborne to some distant location.

    To find out your rights, you may want to consult a local litigation attorney.
    This is probably a franchisee of a nationwide company. You might complain to the company about what their local franchisee is doing since appeals to the locals have been unsuccessful.
     
  9. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    I really dont want this thread to get into the weeds with legality, but thanks for the replies, yea, we are in consultation with an attorney but really only want that as a last resort.

    My goal from this site was to determine the logistics and considerations of spraying large trees along a property line and what is typically considered reasonable and/or possible. From the layman's perspective, it would seem to me that 60' trees 8' from a property line are not sprayable without causing significant application to the neighboring property.... and to complicate matters, when a food garden is located next to these trees, shouldn't they be using a food safe spray and/or implementing some sort of protections? It was obvious the applicator was negligent for spraying with wind, but are they negligent in spraying on a calm day with this proximity?
     
  10. ATH

    ATH Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I don't consider it a "given" that I'll drift onto the neighbor's property. Of course, that is part of the reason I don't do giant tree spraying. I stick to about 30'. But regardless, if I couldn't do it without drifting onto the neighbors, I'd first talk to the neighbors. If they weren't OK with it, I'd turn down the job.

    Calling the "mother ship" if this is a local franchise is a good idea.
     
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  11. Atomic1

    Atomic1 ArboristSite Lurker

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    Thanks for the comments. FWIW, a letter from my attorney was all it took for them to be willing to work with us. Found a food "safe" spray, and they're communicating with us so we can ensure spraying only occurs on favorable days.

    The attorney said this would be filed under nuisance law.
     
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  12. JTM

    JTM ArboristSite Guru

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    Spraying in 25 mph wind? Idiots. Human nature is that folks will be inconsiderate and walk all over you if you let them. Ignoring minor slights by your neighbors to maintain harmony is one thing but damage to property should be addressed decisively. Don’t wait around. If you do then you are communicating that there’s no problem.
     
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  13. Cedarwood

    Cedarwood New Member

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    I'm with ATC. I dont spray trees over 30' along property borders without approval from the neighbors for this very reason. It's unfortunate that there's sprayers out there who have no concern for neighbors. Technically, they're failing to follow product labels when they apply to another property where people may unknowingly walk around through the stuff.

    Drifting ornamental sprays into food gardens is unacceptable. We've tarped many gardens when spraying to prevent misapplications. Good luck and hope they change their ways permanently.
     
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