Landscape and Tree Contractors, Minimize Lawsuits, Understand Your Duty of Care!

If you are a landscape or tree care contractor, you should be aware of the potential liability you face by an unhappy client. This awareness begins when you understand your “duty of care” as a landscape or tree care professional.

What is “duty of care”? It is a very important legal concept that simply stated means a person or organization has the legal obligation to avoid acts or omissions that could harm others. The duty of care extends to your actions or lack of action that would cause harm to your client or their property, perhaps even extending to adjacent properties and utilities.

Licensed contractors should understand their client hired them for their expertise and professionalism. The client is reliant upon the contractor to provide a product and service that conforms to industry standards. It is incumbent upon the contractor to satisfy all contractual obligations and satisfy the industry standard of care, or face a possible lawsuit.

If you are a landscape, maintenance or tree contractor interested in learning how to minimize you legal exposure and reduce your liability, please read the full article at:

Reduce Liability by Understanding Your Duty of Care

Let it Burn or Suppress It? US Park Service vs Cal Fire Policy

This past summer brought us the gigantic Rim fire that devastated Yosemite National Park and surrounding communities. Over 4,900 firefighters operated under a unified command, however when the fire crossed over into the boundary between state and national park land, the National Park Service took a very different approach than Cal Fires (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection). Continue reading “Let it Burn or Suppress It? US Park Service vs Cal Fire Policy” »

California Trees Under Attack, Are You Part of the Problem?

We have seen an increasing number of disease pathogens and insects attacking many tree species throughout our country.  In Southern California, the gold spotted oak borer, (GSOB), (Agrilus auroguttatu), first introduced in San Diego County between 1990-2000 has spread into Riverside County and is expected to spread throughout California.  This pest specifically targets the Coast Live Oak and Black Oak, (Quercus agrifolia, Quercus kelloggii), both oaks comprising a major part of our red oak forests throughout California.

GoldSpottedOakBorer, US Forest Service

The adult female beetle lays eggs on host trees mainly June through September, the eggs hatch into larvae which bore through the outer bark and feed on the phloem and xylem, the interior vascular system of the tree.  After several months, the larvae mature into pupae, which eventually bore from the vascular tissue just under the bark, and may be observed on the outer bark of infested trees April through July.  Adult emergence follows and the beetles feed on the foliage of the infected trees throughout summer, mating and then repeating the life cycle. Continue reading “California Trees Under Attack, Are You Part of the Problem?” »

The Pros and Cons When Using a Landscape Design-Build Contractor

Pros and Cons

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This Post is Part Two of a Series, Click Here to Read Part One

In part one of the series Landscape Contractors Standard of Care, I discussed why a professional landscape contractor is held to a higher standard of care than an ordinary laymen. Wikipedia defines standard of care as “In certain industries and professions, the standard of care is determined by the standard that would be exercised by the reasonably prudent manufacturer of a product, or the reasonably prudent professional in that line of work.”

The previous article focused on primary contract documents required for professional landscape contractors and their clients. Contract documents focus on a design, plans, specifications, notes and details that provide the contractor information on how to price, bid, and construct a project. But what happens where there are no landscape plans or specifications for a project, no information is provided to the contractor to provide an accurate bid, quote or estimate and if awarded the contract, no information on how to construct the project? Continue reading “The Pros and Cons When Using a Landscape Design-Build Contractor” »

My Biggest Pet Peeve

Pet Peeve Photo

Gardeners. Yes, gardeners are one of my biggest pet peeves. Why pick on gardeners you ask? First, I want to differentiate between people who garden versus individuals who call themselves “gardeners” and provide gardening services, typically monthly maintenance gardeners.

What are the qualifications to become a “gardener” and turn that into a profession?
• A pick up truck.
• A lawn mower.
• A string trimmer.
• A blower. Continue reading “My Biggest Pet Peeve” »

Eucalyptus Limb Drop-Who is to Blame?

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It was just after Labor Day, while enjoying a walk through Morley Field, a portion of Balboa Park in San Diego; I came across an enormous limb lying on the ground beneath a 75′ tall Eucalyptus cladocalyx (Sugar Gum) tree.

Fortunately, no one was underneath the tree when this limb failed, or there could have been a catastrophe. Decades ago, when Balboa Park and Morley Field were created, Eucalyptus trees were heavily planted throughout park areas. They have since grown into towering, majestic trees, many greater than 100’ tall. The trees exist individually and grouped in stands of trees throughout the parkland area. Continue reading “Eucalyptus Limb Drop-Who is to Blame?” »

Landscape Contractor’s, Does Your Work Satisfy the Industry Standard of Care?

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This post is part one in a series, click here to read part two.

For landscape contractors not familiar with the legal term “standard of care”, you need to understand the meaning and legal implications of NOT performing to the professional standard of care expected and common within the landscape contracting industry. Wikipedia defines the professional standard of care as “In certain industries and professions, the standard of care is determined by the standard that would be exercised by the reasonably prudent manufacturer of a product, or the reasonably prudent professional in that line of work. The standard of care is important because it determines the level of negligence required to state a valid cause of action.

This definition means if you perform landscape contracting services and your work product is found defective, deficient and or results in personal injury or property loss, you can be sued and found guilty in a court of law. The financial settlement will depend on the severity of the accident, property loss or injury. If you don’t think a lawsuit is a concern to your business, then you are most likely a candidate for a future lawsuit. Understanding your contractual and legal obligations as a licensed professional landscape contractor is paramount to protecting yourself and company from future legal action. Continue reading “Landscape Contractor’s, Does Your Work Satisfy the Industry Standard of Care?” »