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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Best Distance of Palms to Walls is Ten Feet

Q. I have two Mexican fan palms in my backyard that are 16-18 feet tall. One is 3 feet from a retaining wall and 6 feet from a pool. Another is 3 feet from the corner of my house which is on a slab. Do I need to worry about the roots damaging the wall, pool or slab?
Way too close for palms to be planted to a wall.

A. The short answer is you should be concerned anytime something that can get large is growing close to anything that can be damaged. The good news is that palm roots don’t typically damage walls, swimming pools and concrete slabs as much as other types of tree roots. But they can cause damage.
            Palms in general are not a good choice around pools but Mexican fan palms get huge and should never be planted close to structures. Smaller palms, such as windmill and Mediterranean fan palm, would be a better choice. The closest large fan palms should be planted to walls, swimming pools and house slabs are perhaps 10 feet away.
Palms look beautiful near a pool but they can cause problems and very messy when they drop seed.

            There are a couple of options if you don’t want to remove these palms. One is installing a root barrier so that palm roots are deflected away from structures that could be damaged. Root barriers are installed and extend about 30 inches deep or more and reside slightly above soil level.
            The second option is to use water for directing root growth. In deserts soils are normally dry due to a lack of rain. Tree roots grow where water is available. By placing irrigation water away from walls, cool decking or a house foundation we can direct tree root growth away from these potential problem areas.
            Water does not need to be applied evenly under plant canopies. I recommend keeping water 2 – 3 feet away from these potential problem areas.

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