Planning on having lawn care done? How to protect yourself if work isn’t done right

Published: Jul. 2, 2019 at 8:24 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Myrtle Reekes says her yard looks like a hurricane tore through it and it’s not what she expected after paying $11,000 to DJ’s Lawn Care and Tree Service for work to be done.

If the work you’re considering is valued at $1,000 or more, the contractor should be licensed. That way if something goes wrong, you may be eligible for compensation from a state recovery fund.

A good reference from family or a friend isn’t always enough protection when it involves a big job, like cutting down 35 trees and filling in a swimming pool. Which is how one woman learned the hard way.

Myrtle Reekes says she wanted trees threatening her home taken down and debris hauled away.

“I was so afraid that one of them would fall."

She says trees that were supposed to come down were not removed.

“I wanted him to cut the trees that were closest to the house, but as you can see, he went deeper into that and cut the trees he wanted and the ones I wanted cut are still standing there.”

She says the contractor left a huge mess in her yard, but the two page contract she signed is short on specifics. It calls for 35 trees to be removed and the land to be cleaned up. But what’s missing are end dates for the tree work and the swimming pool she wanted filled in. Also missing, there are no details about which trees are to be take down.

A contact clear on details eliminates unnecessary confusion. Also, never let your payments get ahead of the work. Myrtle says she wrote checks to James Michael Parker for roughly $11,000 and claims he kept asking for more, which she says she gave.

“Because I wanted him to hurry up and get the job done. I figured if I give him more money, he’d come and do it,” Reekes said.

Eventually, she says the contractor stopped taking her calls.

“He’s never going to give me my money back. I got the feeling he doesn’t have any. I want him to come and get the job done. I don’t want to go to court but that’s where I’m going if he doesn’t do it. $11,000 - that wasn’t easy to get together and he keeps asking for more. Do I look like I’m rich?" she said.

NBC12′s Diane Walker called several numbers listed on the contract but never reached the person she wrote the checks to. The father of the listed contact, who says they have been in business 30 years, said they never had a problem like this before. James Parker Sr. said his worker had a situation and that he’s sorry.

The mistake will be corrected next Thursday.

You can look up a license to see whether a contractor is operating legally by contacting the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation at, or give them a call at 804-367-8500.

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