Expecting Many Storms? Might Be Time To Get Rid Of That Old Palm

Palm trees swaying in the breeze is a classic image in warmer, more relaxed areas. But those palms come with a price. These tall, skinny trees often hold up well in wind but not in prolonged heavy rain that thoroughly saturates the ground. If you have just moved into a home that has some palm trees planted around it, you may want to consider removing the palms if it looks like your area is going to get a lot of rain, such as a series of storms from El Niño. Otherwise, the rain and soil might do that task for you, causing additional damage you don't need.

Planted Shallowly

One of the problems with palms is that they're often planted rather shallowly. Many palm species have fairly shallow root systems to begin with (if you're not sure if the palms you have are from those species, you need to call a tree service to check). Shallowly planted palms need to be shored up with extra soil or removed entirely. Note that the newly added soil might not be secure enough to keep the palm from toppling over if there is heavy rain soon after the soil is added, so total removal may be best to begin with.

Saturated Soil, Movement, and Decay

As mentioned, palms can topple over in saturated soil. The overly moist soil (which is also likely undergoing erosion in prolonged rains, thus creating a weaker layer around the trunk of the tree) loosens up, allowing the palm roots and trunk bottom to shift around. Another problem with saturated soil is that it can cut off the oxygen supply to the roots, weakening the tree and allowing the roots to rot. If that happens to your palm tree, that's a tree waiting to topple.

Old Fronds

Another reason the tree might need to go is if there are a ton of old, dried fronds still hanging on. These can often form a hazard on windy days (the tree itself might be OK with wind, but the wind can blow the heavy, dead fronds onto roofs, cars, and people below), but add in a bunch of pelting raindrops, and you've got some major frond fall about to happen. For just a few fronds, you can call out a tree service and have them remove the fronds. But if the palm's trunk is covered in them -- not unusual if the tree has been neglected -- it may be cheaper to just chop down the tree.


One more issue to note is lightning. If you've got very tall palms, lightning strikes and tree fires -- even in rain -- are a real risk. If you've got a very tall, skinny palm that's sticking up above the rest of the trees and the house, have that removed in order to reduce the risk of a lightning strike.

If you have to call a tree service out to check the species of the tree or to remove the tree, you can ask the workers what suitable replacement trees might include. You don't want to leave a barren spot in the landscape, but you do want to have only those plants that pose less of a risk to your safety, and not more of a risk.

For more information, visit sites like http://www.prtree.com.