Ask a Question forum: Roofers left debris in garden. Toxic?

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Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
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conniepr27
Apr 30, 2017 5:27 AM CST
So, we had our roof stripped and replaced last week. The roofers, especially in one area, allowed a whole pile of debris (little granuals of grit, nails, small chunks of asphalt tiles) in my flowerbeds. I've cleaned out most of it, but the area where they left the huge pile of the really fine stuff is almost impossible to get it all out without removing​ the entire top layer of dirt.

Does anyone know if the little granuals are toxic? Will they poison the dirt and kill the plants?
Name: June
Rosemont, Ont. (Zone 4a)
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JuneOntario
Apr 30, 2017 7:04 AM CST
Hi Connie! I'm not sure what those little granules are made of, but they've been washing off my roof for years and have not damaged plants that are growing where the water and the granules end up. Too bad your roofers did not put down a tarp to catch the debris and left you with a mess. Have you told them off?
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
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Garden10
Apr 30, 2017 7:17 AM CST
Hi Connie, I've been there, had a new roof put on my old house and garage, and the job apparently was well-done, but they half-destroyed my property in the process, including garbage inside (attic crawlspace and ankle-deep in the garage) and out. I made them come back three times to clean, until I was left with what you described, and my old roof which was put there before I bought the house, was composed of small stones and tar, they tell me, so the stuff coming down was even worse than with a conventional roof. And it was only an aesthetic nightmare, it didn't hurt any of the plants, shrubs or trees, so don't worry about it, but man, I ripped them a new one on Yelp, and you should hold these people accountable too, there isn't any guarantee they'll get right as a result, but it's a safe bet they'll keep on treating customers like that if no one calls them on it. Smiling
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
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conniepr27
Apr 30, 2017 7:18 AM CST
Thanks, June.

No, I couldn't say anything to the guy. He's a friend of my husband and someone I have to work with in my workplace. Glare He's a nice guy, too. Just too bad he isn't as careful as he could be. He works two jobs, a maintenance guy at my workplace, and his home renovation self-employed business after regular hours, so that's probably why. BUT! Had I known he was going to let all that stuff drop into my beds, I would have covered them with tarps myself! Angry

My flowerbeds are all still flat, with barely a tip of perennials popping out of the ground yet, but it's still hard to get all the little bits out because of the bark mulch I have throughout. I think, if you haven't noticed any problems in yours, I'm going to leave the rest of the tiny stuff rather than scoop the top layer of soil off everything.
Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
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conniepr27
Apr 30, 2017 7:30 AM CST
Thanks, Abbey.

Ya, I can't believe people get away with stuff like this, but ... Then again, this is a small rural area, the guy is a nice guy, does good work and charges less, so... BUT, if I had hired a professional from the city, YA, he would never get away with that!

I know, contradictions. All people should be held to the same standards and you'd think that A FRIEND would care about what he's doing to his friends property!

To be honest, he really didn't do that bad. Ya there are bits everywhere all over the property, and it was just one six-by-four foot area where he seemed to let a pile of the really tiny bits fall without considering the beds, BUT those are precious plants in there, including my first ever Hydrangea and first ever smoke bush, both of which just came through their first winters here and both of which are already pushing the limits for the zoning here.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
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Garden10
Apr 30, 2017 10:28 AM CST
Hi Connie, I had written that and posted right before you explained the relationship, I get it. I've been in that position. But don't back track, you can be a nice guy AND a thoughtless, reckless yahoo at the same time!! Smiling If you don't clean up after yourself, you didn't do a good job. It's hard when you take the trouble and put in the hard work to care for something like you do your plants to then have someone just come around and treat them like they're nothing, when ten seconds' thought and less effort was all that was required to protect them. Shrug!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
Name: Charlie
Aurora, Ontario (Zone 5b)
Maintenance of Perennial Beds.
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SunnyBorders
Apr 30, 2017 11:18 AM CST
As per June above, those (roof) protective mineral granules on asphalt shingles don't seem to bother our growing garden either. Losing them from a roof, however, can say something about the condition of the roof.

Several annoying situations I've seen with builder debris in installing flower beds for a new home in a new development: (1) holes dug on the property to bury, especially aluminum scrap from siding (builders are apparently not supposed to do that here), and (2) those steel straps used to bind bricks on a wooden pallet. The latter, lying several inches below the surface of the soil (brought in for the developer after construction and before the sodding) can be quite an nuisance when laying out flower bed.
Name: Abbey
Eastern New York State (Zone 6a)
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Garden10
Apr 30, 2017 11:34 AM CST
My old house had been renovated by Fell Out Of The Back Of A Truck & Sons, and when I started working in the yard, my lawn guy and I had running gags about the archaeological digs that revealed their professional process, everything you described plus five-inch rusty nails, screws, washers, nuts, bolts, it was unreal, if someone had gone back there with a metal detector, it would have blown their headphones off. Shrug!
"Every now and then I leave the book on the seat and go and have a refreshing potter among my flower beds from which I return greatly benefited, and with a more just conception of what is worth bothering about, and what is not." The Solitary Summer -- Elizabeth von Arnim
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 30, 2017 11:39 AM CST
It won't hurt your plants at all. All shingles will shed a measurable amount of grit after being installed. The nails you can just pick up, they won't hurt the plants anyway.
Name: Karen
NM (Zone 7b)
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plantmanager
Apr 30, 2017 11:45 AM CST
Abbey, our place is an archaeological dig too. I think they left every bit of construction debris and just put fill dirt over it and rolled it down. Every time we try to dig a hole we find trash. Sad The attic was also full of trash. We took out an old tub, and sure enough, their trash was under the tub too.
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Name: Connie
Edmonton, Alberta area (Canada (Zone 3a)
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conniepr27
Apr 30, 2017 11:53 AM CST
Thanks for the responses everyone!

Charlie and Abbey:. Blinking Angry I would be furious if I had had to deal with that kind of stuff in my yard! I haven't had to deal with that yet, thank goodness!

Was picking up bits of asphalt shingles and nails in the back yard today. Then I mowed. Seems like I got it all from those areas. Time to finish in the front yard flowerbeds this afternoon, I guess.
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
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McCannon
Apr 30, 2017 12:33 PM CST
We had our roof replaced a few years ago. The crew went around the perimeter of the house with a magnet-on-wheels to collect any dropped nails. After they left we went over the same area with our own magnet and picked up another pound of roofing nails Shrug! .
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 30, 2017 12:57 PM CST
True story.

My husband and I tried to buy a lot to someday build a house on. Went to the bank/closing and met w the seller, signed all the papers and left 'owning' the lot. While at the closing, we asked the seller if there was a well anywhere on the property. There had been an old house there at one time and it had been destroyed, (wind? fire?) and bulldozed away. He said he thought maybe there was but he could not remember just where and he gave us the name of a place that did some 'dirt work' for him, we assumed leveling it off after hauling away the old house. We went home immediately after the closing to call the other guy because we were so excited that the well may still be there, save us some money. When we called the man we had to describe the property, address ect so he could remember it. OH, YEAH! I remember THAT place, I buried a massive amount of shingles up there! Blinking Um, just how massive? SEVERAL semi truck loads. Blinking It was 30 min until the bank closed. We called the bank and barely caught the lady before she left for the courthouse to drop off the papers for recording. We explained to her what happened. She said well the bank is certainly not going to loan on that! Papers were destroyed, seller contacted and we sent him a bill for all our closing costs and such. He balked at repaying us!! We did finally get the money out of him. We called several state offices to report this, because we thought it was illegal to do that? We were told that unless we could prove w video, photos of it being burried, ect they could not get a warrant and do nothing about it. (pooh, I don't beleive that for one min) No one would do a thing about it. Drove by a month later and the realtor still had it listed for sale (we called her and told her everything) Found out later they were good buddies. I still can't hardly believe the mess to this day. I feel bad for the poor suckers that ended up w it Sad
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
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McCannon
Apr 30, 2017 1:17 PM CST
@Frillylily, As in all cases, it's "buyer beware". The situation you described is not at all unusual. Fortunately you found out about it before closing. It probably would have been pretty expensive to unwind after the fact.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 30, 2017 2:28 PM CST
Yes it would be expensive. Beware yes, but he lied on the disclosure statements saying there were no known dump sites on the land. The man at the excavating co said that he paid him to bury the shingles. Meaning that there is no way that he did not know it was on his property. That is a no-no. Pretty sure he wasn't buddies w the excavator anymore Hilarious!
Name: kathy
Michigan
Zone 4b, near St. Clair MI
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katesflowers
Apr 30, 2017 2:58 PM CST
@mccannon
Mac is right-on with the magnet on wheels idea. I borrowed the contractor's magnet and ran it over the lawn every afternoon during the roofing project. Gathered a load of perfectly good nails. None ended up in my tractor or car tires.
"Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing." Shakespeare
Name: Deb
Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
Apr 30, 2017 3:17 PM CST
How do you know that this dump actually took place? Did you find signs of debris? Just wondering, and not saying it didn't happen. I've 'heard' that a prior neighbor downhill from us buried lots of metal in his outlying areas, but I have no actual knowledge that this in fact happened. Or didn't. I do pass on the local lore to new buyers, but let them make what they will with the information.

Back to original post, we recently had a new roof installed and the company was wonderful about protecting my plants. They cleaned up every day on the job, set up plywood sheets to divert debris, and I found very little detrimus once the job was complete. Good thought: do roof work when your plants are dormant or just emerging. Less chance of damage.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Apr 30, 2017 3:52 PM CST
we did find lots of pieces of shingles, glass ect laying around, was told that it was from the old house, then we found shingles of different colors. still didn't put it together. you know lots of homes have more than one layer of shingles. We didn't really put it together until the other guy told us that he was the one the seller paid to bury them for him.


I have used a magnet in the yard over worksites and they work great! Caught a lot of screws that way.
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 30, 2017 4:37 PM CST
McCannon said:We had our roof replaced a few years ago. The crew went around the perimeter of the house with a magnet-on-wheels to collect any dropped nails.


Yes, I was going to suggest the magnet on wheels. Daughter has one (inexpensive from Harbor Freight) and we run it around the yard to catch stray nails. Picks up better if you 'drive' it slowly over the ground several times.

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Mac
Soon to be MidCoast, ME (Zone 6a)
Ex zones 4b, 8b, 9a, 9b
Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Butterflies Frogs and Toads Vermiculture
Critters Allowed Vegetable Grower Canning and food preservation Annuals Morning Glories Sedums
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McCannon
Apr 30, 2017 5:54 PM CST
I don't know about Missouri, but in Illinois dumping of that nature is illegal and state EPA would be all over the dumper and property owner if they were made aware of it. The material would likely have to be removed and both the dumper and the property owner that allowed it would be subject to substantial fines.

My magnet is just on a wand, not on wheels. It's quite powerful though, and just waving it close to the ground over that area was sufficient to get all the nails.
The aboriginal people of the world and many other cultures share a common respect for nature and the universe, and all of the life that it holds. We should learn from them!

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