The contractor at my neighbors house was washing out his brushes with turpentine or paint thinner and dumping the liquid right next to my tree. Is my tree going to die? What can I do to help it survive?

  • 4
    as the lawyers say "It depends": type of soil, quantity of paint thinner, time of year, type of tree, age of tree, location. We might be able to answer your question with these details.
    – kevinskio
    Apr 5, 2016 at 22:16
  • I agree with @kevinsky the biggest two factors are probably going to be how much paint thinner and how big the tree.
    – GardenerJ
    Apr 5, 2016 at 23:03
  • 1
    Would it make sense to grab a shovel and scoop out as much of the soil that had the paint thinner? Then, I'd probably drench heavily if the water drains away from the roots and out. Paint thinner is not water soluable so I don't know how much water would help. Otherwise I'd scoop out as much affected soil as I could and get rid of it. Waiting to hear what kind of tree, how mature and how much this guy rinsed off his brushes. Naughty naughty for the contractor. Take pictures, make notes... his contractor's bond should pay for a new tree or clean up! Good to wake this guy up!
    – stormy
    Apr 5, 2016 at 23:46

1 Answer 1


Paint thinner won't really hurt an established tree, as long as you don't make a habit of dumping it underneath them. If the tree is small, say 3" or less in diameter, it might cause temporary shock due to water displacement in the soil. After a rain you should be fine.

Unless your tree is growing in contained soil, such as a planter or curb box. If that's the case, remove as much of the contaminated soil as you can without damaging the structural root system, and replace it with fresh topsoil.

Personally, I would ask the contractor to use a different dumping spot, in the future.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.