My neighbor must be advising her home painters to dump their leftover paint, for several days now, on a tree stump that she just last week said might need a pick axe to remove. This stump is along our property line, 3 feet from my newly planted arborvitae, and 5 feet from the raspberry patch my granddaughter likes to help herself to. I don't know what kind of paint this neighbor is using for the outside of her home, but, first day I noticed the paint, it was covering the stump that had a hole dug around it about 2' x 2' -- at that point I didn't know what this green goo was, but yesterday I actually saw the painter dumping in the hole! Will this kill my arborvitae, or the raspberry patch 5 feet away? Will it be safe to eat these raspberries?

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    That is completely disrespectful and absolutely asinine of your neighbor to do that. That's akin to illegal dumping; check with your local laws and, if necessary, get the cops involved. I do not know whether or not your plants will be affected, but I would imagine they would be, especially given the amount of paint it sounds like they're dumping. Jun 26, 2011 at 21:16
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    If I bought a house only to find that the previous owner used the backyard as a garbage pit, toxic or not, I would be very upset. What kind of painter doesn't already have a place to dispose of his leftover materials? In Seattle, you can take oil paints to a disposal site for free (for households), and with latex paint, you let it dry and then put it in the garbage.
    – rsgoheen
    Jun 29, 2011 at 5:49

2 Answers 2


A tree has roots that may be going 20 or 30 feet or more under the ground. If the paint is enough to kill the tree then it's probably enough to affect everything in that 20 foot radius. If not then the paint probably will not kill the tree.

In addition the paint will pollute the ground water and kill all the insects, worms and other things that your garden needs to grow. Clearly your neighbour is an unpleasant, inconsiderate person. Report him to the local council's environmental department and most house to somewhere with more amenable neighbours.

Digging out the tree root may require more than just a pick axe. Depending on the type of tree and size, you may need a small JCB to remove the root stump.


generally, fruit is the safest part of a plant to eat when considering bio-accumulation of toxins present in soil. This is because it is the last and furthest destination for toxins. The roots tend to be most toxic, then stems, then leaves, then fruit.

Is it safe enough? I would eat the berries but its a judgement call. I'd rather eat those than pesticide laced berries from the grocery store.

If your berry patch is significantly upslope from the paint area, its roots may not even come into contact with the paint

Not sure if it'll kill the tree. I don't know enough about the pollution tolerance of that type

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