How to handle problem with Lawn Mowing crew

flowerbug

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The farmer that works the fields around the house likes to plant two extra rows into our yard each spring. He's my father's boss and a nice guy, he just can't see where the line is anymore because the herbicide applications kill out the grass next to the field. I have gotten passive aggressive about it and conveniently left out something big right on the edge of the yard when they are planting. Usually my wheelbarrow or a lawnmower. It embarrasses my father, but I'm tired of losing more yard space every year to field corn. I'm debating dropping a shed right on the edge, just to make my point in a way big enough my father can't move it after I go to work.
T-Bars, pounded a few feet in the ground. tie a bright rag around the top or paint them a bright color. can't be easily removed...
 

SPedigrees

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Well I have formulated a plan! The owner of this company (I'll call him "BB" short for Big Boss) saved my neck last winter by agreeing to plow my driveway. I live way out in the sticks and he was the only one who agreed to take on the job. He did all the plowing for me himself (although he has a crew of guys working for him) and he followed my instructions exactly where to plow and pile up snow and where to avoid. So I'm hugely indebted to him for that. I sent him $200 in a Christmas card last year to show my appreciation even though the plowing season was barely underway at that point.

Now for the lawn mowing crew: the young guy who has been mowing the area right around my house (I'll call him "LMG2") listened carefully and has followed my instructions to the letter and remembered exactly what to do from week to week. He is pure gold.

The head lawn mowing guy (who I'll call "LMG1") is the one with the passive aggressive attitude or perhaps with a listening, memory or hearing impairment who keeps making my unmowed areas (in the mowed field behind the house) smaller and smaller, and breaking reflectors and posts in the process. He brought a new young guy with him that last time instead of LMG2 who whittled down the areas around the house that LMG2 had been mowing carefully around.

After that last episode, I was really furious. But the thing is this lawn mowing crew does everything right except for mowing too close. They show up every week at the appointed time, they do not use any kind of pesticides or herbicides, they do not attempt to prune any of my trees or bushes, and they do not use weed eaters (I prefer to do my own weed-eating in the areas that need it). If I were to fire them and start over with a new crew (oddly enough, unlike with the snow plowers, there is no shortage of landscapers willing to come to my neck of the woods to mow), who knows what another crew might find to screw up. Also this might damage my relationship with BB. If a lawn mower were to apply toxic chemicals to my land for instance, I would be ready to kill, and if they were to venture into my own pet memorial garden and damage anything as they did to Pulsegleaner's tombstone, I would go into full scale thermo-nuclear meltdown! Placing damaging steel T-posts or rebar that could damage their mowing equipment I feel would also threaten my relationship with BB, plus surrounding my wide areas with T-posts would cost a pretty penny as these posts cost between $2 and $4 depending on the length of the post (I've used a number of these on my property boundary fences), and these would be eye-sores around my unmowed areas and gardens, especially if I were to attach barbed wire to them. It would make my pretty meadow resemble some sort of prison facility!

So I decided to order flexible fiberglas driveway markers instead. I did not realize how many posts I needed to ring all the areas that they need to avoid, but I think the tally is up around 200 posts now with another 50 on the way because I ran out of posts yet again. These actually look pretty, almost like garden ornaments, and especially at night when they reflect my outdoor spotlights. I placed them all about a foot outside of the original posts which I left where they are. The new posts will protect the old posts.

While I was still fuming about LMG1's recent actions, these thoughts of retaliation ran through my head: I could tell him that I will be deducting the cost of any broken posts I find from my bill and telling his employer why I was doing so. However, ratting him out to his boss would probably start a war with LMG1, damage my relationship with BB, and I'm not a rat. I was also thinking to myself, "LMG1, you have just cheated yourself out of a Christmas bonus."

Then it came to me: This holiday season I will send BB a gift of $400 (because this year he is providing both plowing and mowing services) and I will send $200 to LMG2 with a nice note thanking him for following my instructions so perfectly and doing such a great job. What LMG1 gets in his "Christmas stocking" will be dependent on how many of my new posts he breaks or doesn't break. I'll thank him also for doing a nice job, followed by an accounting like:
$200 minus $5 for broken posts = $195
So if LMG1 mows right next to the new lines of posts and their flexibility saves them from being damaged, or if LMG1 keeps a safe distance from the posts and they are left standing, either way, he gets the full $200.

Normally I would give $200 to the head lawn mowing guy and half that to his subordinate, but because LMG2 has done such a super job, he's getting the full amount. My new system is like reward-based training for humans, and it leaves me in charge and in no conflict with BB. Furthermore it will reimburse me for money spent on posts if some are broken. I'm valuing these posts at $1 apiece, so if he breaks 10 posts, that's $10 less out of my pocket into the holiday bonus for LMG1.

Pulsegleaner, I still can't get over the massive outrage that was done to your poor kitty's grave marker. I hope that idiot had to pay for a new monument of equal quality. Religious beliefs are irrelevant when it comes to the willful destruction of your property. If you'd had a marble statue of Satan in your garden, what they did would have been just as illegal and inexcusable.

Prairie Rose and Victory Garden be very careful not to allow yours or your dad's land to be used each year over time, or the neighbor may end up owning that piece of land they've been using via adverse possession. It might be wise to get said neighbor to sign a dated piece of paper stating that you have given him permission to use that land. That will protect you from losing land to adverse possession. Just a word to the wise from one who has gone through a lengthy and expensive boundary dispute.

Again thanks much for all the insightful replies. I'll let everyone know how it all pans out in a year or so.
 

ninnymary

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I've just read this post.

Why in the world would you invest time and money to get what you want and are paying for? I'm afraid I don't have the patience for people whom I pay for a service to be done to my specifications. I am pretty sure they are not the only lawn service around.

As far as those hugh Christmas bonus, those guys are only doing what they are getting paid for. Any extra token of appreciation should be a small monetary amount, gift certificate, or homemade gift. Please tell me you are not giving anything to that guy who won't listen to you.

Mary
 

catjac1975

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Easy gardeners on this forum have been very helpful and insightful in the past, so perhaps I can get some guidance as to how to deal with a problem I'm having with the crew who mows my 1 1/2 acre of lawn.

The situation is this: my husband died this past spring. He used to mow our lawns with a riding mower. After he passed I hired a crew of professional lawn mowers, and overall they do an amazing job. They have huge mowing machines that make short work of what used to take the hubby all day with the mower and me with the string trimmer.

The requirements for mowing our property were thus: No pesticides or pruning of trees or shrubs or trimming (I still do the areas requiring a string trimmer myself), and stay far away from any lines of posts that mark unmowed areas where I am growing trees or flower/veg gardens. The main guy keeps forgetting and mowing closer to the forbidden fence posts, breaking a few of them. His young assistant on the other hand listened to me and remembers from week to week to avoid posts.

OK this last week, after finding a couple more broken posts I reiterated my request and the main guy smiles and nods and apparently pretends to listen and promises to do as asked. This was right before he mowed this last time. I walked over with him to the two areas with lines of posts I wished him to stay a couple feet away from, so I know he didn't forget. But after they left, I discovered that he had mowed right next to the posts yet again. So I have to figure there are only 2 possibilities - one that he didn't understand the request. This is hard to believe since I'm not speaking swahili and, from his replies to me, he completely understood what I wanted done (or NOT done) and planned to act accordingly. In the past I described it thusly : "Pretend that these posts shoot out death rays and will zap you if you get close to them." and "Please just mow at least a foot away from any posts. That is the minimum. I will never be upset if you mow too far away from the posts, only if you get too close."

The only other possibility is that this guy has some passive-aggressive thing going on and is doing this deliberately to aggravate me while pretending it was just a misunderstanding. I don't understand this kind of mentality. I am a direct person so this totally baffles me. I have been very generous with praise for the work these guys do, and indeed I am very grateful to have found this crew to step in and take over for my late hubby. If he could see how the property looks now, he would be very pleased. I want to stay on good terms with these guys who provide such an invaluable service, but I am finding myself stressed to the max after this past incident.

How would you all handle this? Perhaps some of you on here are professional lawn care folks and might shed some enlightenment on this confounding behavior. It all seems so stupid since avoiding posts and other structures would mean less mowing and be easier for these guys.

Now that a couple days have passed I'm thinking that just ordering more of the flexible, reflective, fiberglas posts and placing them outside the existing lines of posts to keep this over-zealous person at bay would be my best course of action. I may lose a few posts but at least they will be on the outside of the areas I want to protect. (Some of the posts I seek to protect have breakable glass bottles atop them that I assuredly don't want shattered.) Is this the direction I should take, do you think? I have maintained friendly relations with these guys and I don't want a confrontation. This is probably the best course of action to prevent stress, yes?
First I want to say how sorry I am for the loss of your husband. You sound as if you have made gains at healing from your loss.
I have a guy who helps us weed and other gardening chores. He has told us he is OCD. As a retired educator I can tell you he is smart and not, at the same time. He has made some unintended blunders. Sometimes I just cannot figure him out. But I have learned how to give him directions.But sometimes he asks me to repeat some simple directions. Is is some kind of cognitive disorder.
I do not know why your guy would be passive aggressive. If you cannot get your point across find someone new. If help is hard to find don't be so nice the next time he makes an error. He may have thought he would please you if he came close and did not break anything. Or maybe he has a hearing problem.
 

AMKuska

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I've just read this post.

Why in the world would you invest time and money to get what you want and are paying for? I'm afraid I don't have the patience for people whom I pay for a service to be done to my specifications. I am pretty sure they are not the only lawn service around.

As far as those hugh Christmas bonus, those guys are only doing what they are getting paid for. Any extra token of appreciation should be a small monetary amount, gift certificate, or homemade gift. Please tell me you are not giving anything to that guy who won't listen to you.

Mary
I kinda agree with @ninnymary. If you're happy with the two people who provide you with good service, that's great! Why reward the person who is treating you poorly? You're implying that you are happy with him by doing so.
 

thistlebloom

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SPedigrees, you may not be a rat, but there's another perspective.

If my business had employees I would encourage feedback from clients. This is called accountability. It keeps your employees honest and helps you maintain a high standard of reputation for your business that your employees are out there representing.

I am a sole proprietorship and my only employees are family members that work with me during a few weeks spring and fall when work is the heaviest. Even so I ask my clients regularly if things are satisfactory and if there's anything they would like to see me do differently. They appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation about the service they pay me to do. So far not a single one has had a complaint about my work, only occasionally they may want a change in the plant material.
 
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