8 Reasons To Cut Down Your Palm Tree (And When To Do It)

Blue sunny sky, underneath the palm trees

You may love your palm tree— adore it even. But there may have also been a time or two you’ve considered removing it. If you’ve found yourself wondering if you should cut down your palm tree, you aren’t alone.

You should cut down your palm tree if it has insect infestations, is too large, has rot, structural concerns, or is causing too much needed maintenance. Palm trees can cause issues during intense storms, and should be removed when they have the potential to fall.

Palm trees can be a great addition to your space, but you have to know when it’s the right time for them to go. Stick around to learn about when and why you might cut down your tree!

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Your Palm Tree Is Already On It’s Way Out

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Though there are a lot of reasons that you might have to cut your palm tree down, rot or another similar issue can be one of the most prevalent. If anything, it’s the first that comes to mind.

If you can catch it early enough, you may be lucky enough to save your palm tree. Affected parts of a tree can often be removed by pruning, which allows you to take away any affected branches without having to cut the entire tree down.

Palm trees have leaves known as fronds. The fronds form a circle around the top of the tree in what is known as the crown.

Crown rot is a major issue in palm trees, but removing affected fronds can stop disaster in its tracks!

Try the Fiskars Bypass Pruning Shears to help you trim away any areas that have started to get worse. This can be an easy process with the right tools, and as long as the problem is caught before it has spread to other parts of your tree. 

If it is too late to just trim a little bit away, or if the issue is already in the later stages, it might be time to remove your palm tree.

You can always call a local arborist to check for what’s affecting the tree and before pulling the metaphorical plug on your palm tree.

Your Palm Tree Is Too Messy

You may expect that your palm tree will be a pretty clean and mess-free tree.

Right? Not always.

It depends on the variety of palm tree you have, of course, but remember that certain types of palm tree will bear fruit. When that fruit drops, it can quickly cause a sticky mess. 

If your palm tree produces fruit, watch for when it gets ripe.  If you harvest the fruit before it drops, you can prevent a major mess.

However, if your goal is solely to limit fruit to prevent a mess, it may be best to think about tree removal. 

Fruit bearing trees will bring you the same dilemmas year after year and the solution is to either adapt or remove the cause of the mess.

Berries from certain varieties of palm trees, including those known as acai, can make quite a mess. 

Here are a few considerations if you are not planning to harvest the fruits of your palm tree:

  • Pets: Palm berries are not toxic but they may not agree with Fido’s stomach!
  • Your Car:  Getting berries all over your car is not ideal, especially if you’re leaving it parked for a while. 

If you are anxious about your palm tree wreaking havoc on the car during your absence, prepare yourself with a bottle of Goo Gone Automotive Cleaner. Give it a try if things are getting sticky before you vow to tear down the tree.

  • Sidewalks:  I mean, have you ever seen an acai bowl? Those berries are DARK with a capital D! That means that their stains will be, too. 

Some good news is that you can actually remove the flowers and fruits from your palm tree if you’d like. 

In fact, this will allow your tree to take the energy it was directing toward these areas and repurpose it to help the tree maintain its health and overall growth. 

If this seems like the step you want to take, try out the DocaPole 6-24 Foot Double-Duty Telescoping Extension Pole + Go Saw pruning tool.  This will help you target smaller areas of growth on the tree.  Preventing the fruit from growing is one way to keep your yard fruit-free!

Now, if this still sounds like too much maintenance overall, that may be a sign that it’s time to go ahead and take down the tree.

Say that the fruity mess is getting on your car or damaging lawn furniture. This could be an indication that the problem has passed being a little mess and has become a full-blown issue.

Your Palm Tree’s Roots Are Too Big

Roots can be annoying to mess with, but they can also cause issues that impact other parts of your space.

According to Clemson University, palm roots will usually extend 30 to 50 feet or more out from the trunk of the tree itself. Palm roots are flat and tend to be more surface level than many trees you may be used to. 

So, what are the issues with this?

Unlike other trees, the roots of a palm tree aren’t going to cause foundational or structural damage, such as breaking concrete. They won’t grow under your house and suddenly break through the floor or the siding. 

They will, however, create tripping hazards. This is not a dealbreaker by any means, but is something to consider. 

Additionally, the reach of a palm tree’s root system may not damage foundations, but it can do some damage beneath the surface. 

If you have pipes near the roots of your palm tree, the roots may wrap around the pipes. This won’t cause instant damage, but over time can lead to expensive issues.

General maintenance can usually keep palm tree roots under control.  But if you fear your tree is causing issues for your piping system, contact a professional to come to take a look. 

If there is a bigger issue, it may unfortunately be time to cut down your tree. While this is not ideal when it comes to a healthy, otherwise thriving tree, it is sometimes necessary for the good of your space.

Again, reaching out to a professional to determine the best course of action is something I strongly recommend. This will also help you know that you made the best decision you could.

Your Palm Tree Requires Too Much Upkeep

Palm tree and green grass field with blue sky

There are so many factors that could tie into this one. From root issues to messiness, rot to safety, and others that we haven’t yet discussed, maintenance may just become more than its worth.

Any of these reasons on their own are enough to make you consider your options, but if you have any combination of factors piling against you, it’s fair to say you’re probably at your wit’s end.

You may feel like the problems with the palm tree will never end, or like a solution is just out of the question. While this is sometimes true, often a quick break to assess the situation can help you make a plan of action. 

If you still feel like things are just too out of control and not worth the hassle, that is a valid reason to remove your palm tree.

We all have a point where we have to adjust our priorities, and if your palm tree falls to the bottom of the list, it may be time to say goodbye. 

Palm trees are relatively easy trees, but their height can also make maintenance tricky. If the canopy needs to be trimmed and there is no way you can get up there to do it year after year (or have someone else help) it is completely fair to say that the tree may need to go.

Maintaining a plant or other parts of your space is important, but not more so than personal safety. 

If you feel that any maintenance or solutions for your tree require more than you can give, call a professional to help you decide on your next steps.

If yard maintenance is already causing you a headache, you’ll want to avoid these 17 Plants Not to Plant Under Your Palm Tree!

There Are Insect Infestations In Your Palm Tree

Insect infestations may not be as common in your palm tree as they are in other species of tree. 

However, this can still be a concern, especially when it comes to one species of beetle in particular. If you have a tree that is already weakened in any way, the problem may only get worse.

Red Palm Weevils

So, if this little critter is so bad, well…what is it, exactly?

According to the University of California Riverside, the red palm weevil is widely considered the most damaging insect pest of palms worldwide. 

Though this species is typically attracted to unhealthy or otherwise weakened palm trees, it can target perfectly healthy palms as well. 

The larvae of these beetles will feed within the growing points of the tree. This ends up causing deeper tissue damage over time.  The extensive damage severely weakens the palm trunk over time.

What might palm damage from a red palm weevil look like? Here is what you can expect to see with a red palm weevil infestation:

  • Tunnels on the trunk or at the base of the fronds
  • Gnawing sounds’ from the larvae feeding inside, if the infestation is severe enough
  • Appearance of chewed plant material with a particular, fermented odor
  • Oozing fluids from the tunnels on the tree
  • Empty casings and dead adult beetles around the base of the tree
  • A weakened tree that may start leaning, a palm crown that topples, or a trunk that breaks

If you have a weevil infestation, it might be better for the palm tree to be removed than to keep it.

Tropical Storms Make You Nervous For Your Palm Tree

Bottom view of palm trees tropical forest at blue sky background.

If you are in an area that can host palm trees, you may also be in the path of potential tropical storms. 

While palm trees don’t pose the same sort of threats as others when it comes to weather damage, you may still have your concerns. 

A palm tree doesn’t have heavy branches like an oak tree, so you don’t have to worry about losing limbs through an upstairs window during a lightning storm.  But strong winds could still uproot this tree and send it right into your home. 

If your palm tree is too close for comfort to any buildings or structures, you may consider removing it to prepare for potential damage before it happens.

To decide whether your tree is too close or not, or if it’d be able to cause more damage than it’s worth, call an arborist or other professional that may be able to help you make that call.

If you feel don’t have a good feeling about it, don’t wait to be proven right.

Especially if your tree has been damaged or weakened by other factors like insects, rot, or any other external factors, prioritize removal.

Maybe your tree was already damaged in a storm and you’re afraid of the results if another storm occurs. 

Whatever the reason, if your tree has the potential to cause damage, get it checked out by an arborist.

The Neighbors Are Complaining About Your Palm Tree

Say that your palm tree hasn’t been storm damaged, nor has there ever been an infestation that you know of. Maybe it’s a safe distance from the house and piping, and things are okay overall.

What on earth could cause you to remove the tree?

Unfortunately, the court of public opinion can sometimes prevail.

Say that your neighbors are complaining because your tree hangs over their property line or drops berries near their car. Maybe they just don’t love the look of the tree.

This may all be annoying chatter, or it could develop into a more backed-up argument.

Some HOA (homeowner’s associations) will have rules about things like house color, mailboxes, and yes, even trees.

Depending on where you live, this may not always come to the forefront of discussion. However, if complaints are filed about a tree that technically violates rules, things may change.

If it is discovered that the tree fails to meet any regulations like location, size, spacing, or any other technicalities, you may be asked to remove your tree.

Between that and a recurring fine, tree removal may just be the way to go, sadly.

Your HOA might like your palm tree better if your landscaping has more curb appeal. Check out our guide on the 9 Beautiful Plants To Put Under Your Palm Tree.

Your Palm Tree Doesn’t Look Right

Sometimes, the cost of maintaining a tree becomes more than the tree is worth. Other times, you may notice that your tree is beginning to decline but cannot pinpoint a specific cause. 

If that sounds familiar, it may end up being a case of solving the question, “Why doesn’t my tree look right?”  This may end up costing more time and money than you have. 

It may be a bummer to throw in the towel, but if you don’t have the time or resources to put toward a tree that is on the decline for a mystery reason, that’s just that.

To take care of yourself and other responsibilities, you may determine that the palm has got to go. It’s sad, but it’s also okay.

The Best Time To Cut Down Your Palm Tree 

No matter what the reason for removing your tree may be, you should be prepared for when it’s time to say goodbye.

So, part of the timing will have to do with the reason you have to cut down your tree. If you have an infestation, rot, or are avoiding storm damage, the answer may need to be as soon as possible. 

Otherwise, the dormant season is going to be the best time to cut down your tree if the motivation is solely preferential, or in response to some nagging neighbors.

Early spring, or even late winter, are the best times to cut down your palm tree because there will be less overall bloom or growth.

If you are concerned about the timing, but think you can wait a while, you should contact an arborist to confirm that your tree does not need to be removed immediately. They’ll give you the best tips for your specific variety!

Why You SHOULDN’T Cut Down Your Palm Tree

While some things like curb appeal and frustrated neighbors made the list of reasons to cut down your palm tree, I want to mention that the choice is always up to you. 

Consider the value that your tree has— if it is otherwise healthy and stable.

Sometimes, trees have more value than we give them credit for and the work to maintain your tree may be worth it in the end.

Cutting down tour palm tree might now be the right move. You can learn more about the things palm trees are good for inside our in-depth guide!

If your tree has been around for a long time, maybe it’s in every picture of your backyard that you’ve ever sent your parents. Maybe your household loves running around it and using it as the default hide-and-seek hiding spot!

Maybe there isn’t a ton of sentimental value, but it adds character to your yard that you may be sorry to see go.

Whatever it is, take a moment to think about the technical reasons to remove your tree versus the more day-to-day benefits it might provide.

If your tree is a hazard, or struggling beyond help, that is a different story than a tree that gets messy or blocks your neighbor’s sunlight for a little while each afternoon.

Now you know when it’s time to let your palm tree go. Yes, even if you love your tree, it may be time to say goodbye.

Let’s go over some of the most common reasons that people cut their palm trees down:

  • Your palm tree is rotted
  • Your palm tree is too messy
  • Your palm tree’s roots are too big
  • Your palm tree requires too much upkeep
  • Insect infestations in your palm tree
  • Tropical storms are making you concerned
  • The neighbors are complaining
  • The palm tree just doesn’t look right

Keep in mind that it may depend on the situation, but the best time to cut your tree down is most often late winter and early spring. The dormant season will allow you to most easily, and successfully, remove your palm tree.

Call a professional arborist if you have concerns or if your tree is causing safety issues and needs to come down ASAP.

If this article resonated with you, I’m sorry to say that it might be time to cut down your palm tree. 

This isn’t the most fun step to take, but it’s another part of your palm tree journey.

References

Ghori, W., Saba, N., Jawaid, M., & Asim, M. (2018, June). A review on date palm (phoenix dactylifera) fibers and its polymer composites. In IOP conference series: materials science and engineering (Vol. 368, No. 1, p. 012009). IOP Publishing.

Smith, Kevin T. 2013. Do you believe in palm trees? Landscape Hawaii. January|February 2013: 14-16.

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