Palm Trees make for excellent decoration in tropical climates. They provide shade and a fun beach vibe. However, planting large trees near your home can be intimidating. There are all sorts of dangers to planting trees near your home.
One of the biggest is root damage. Tree roots can spread out and down, ripping up pipes and foundations and easily breaking through concrete.
Thankfully, this isn’t a problem due to the nature of Palm Tree roots. Palm Trees aren’t technically trees, and their roots show this. Instead of thick, strong roots that grow bigger with maturity, Palm Tree roots tend to stay small and thin.
Additionally, Palm Tree roots have no tap roots. Instead, they tend to grow into root balls. A Palm Tree root ball often reaches about 3 feet (1 m) in diameter and you want to plant it between 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) away from your home. Unless the Palm Tree isn’t getting enough water, it can easily stay with this root ball. Sometimes, Palm Trees may spread their roots out wider if they need to search for nutrients.
How Wide are Palm Tree Roots?
Palm Tree roots tend to grow in root balls and are spherical. So they usually have a depth and a width that are the same or are very similar, at least until they grow to maturity. After that, Palm Tree roots will start to expand horizontally and stop growing so deep.
How wide Palm Tree roots become depends a lot on the height. Usually, a shorter Palm Tree about 16 feet (5 m) high will have a root ball about 2 feet wide (0.6 m). Most Palms grown near homes tend to stick around 3 feet (1 m) wide. However, some Palms have grown surprisingly wide.
If there isn’t much water nearby, Palm Tree roots have been shown to grow out as far as 50 feet (15 m) in search of water. That is in extreme cases, though. Most of the time, you can expect them to be anywhere between 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 m). Often, the roots don’t grow any wider than the canopy.
How Deep are Palm Tree Roots?
Palm Trees are relatively shallow plants. Even for Palms that can grow up to 100 feet (30 m) in height, they often don’t get roots that are more than 3 feet (1 m) down. Unlike other trees, Palm Trees don’t develop a taproot system and prefer to spread out rather than down.
Sometimes, the roots don’t even go that far down and instead create part of the root ball above the ground. This provides Palm Tree roots with easy access to water and nutrients in the soil.
You might expect that Palm Trees fall a lot during high winds since they do not have a root structure to hold them down, but Palm Trees are actually very flexible and can bend instead of relying on the ground to hold them in place.
Do Palm Tree Roots Cause Damage?
While Palm Trees have the potential to cause damage, it is very rare. Palm Trees, despite the name, are technically more related to grass than traditional trees. This meant that their roots do not grow like you would expect a tree’s roots to do.
Palm Trees do not have deep roots. And if there is enough water, their roots don’t grow wide either. In humid climates, the root ball will often only be about 3 feet (1 m) in depth and width.
Additionally, Palm Tree roots are thin and small. Regular trees have roots that grow bigger and thicker as they age, but Palm Tree roots stay a very similar size and shape throughout their lifetimes.
These roots are often not strong enough to break through things like concrete or pipes, so destruction isn’t usually a worry.
Can Palm Tree Roots Damage Pipes?
Palm Tree roots generally do not damage pipes. While you don’t want to plant them directly over a pipe, especially if it is a larger Palm Tree species, you don’t have to worry about them stretching out and damaging pipes around your yard.
Can Palm Tree Roots Damage Concrete?
Palm Trees do not damage concrete often. The roots are usually thin and don’t thicken as they mature, so they won’t rip up concrete as they expand. They also don’t spread out much more than 3 feet (1 m), so you shouldn’t have a problem unless you are trying to grow a Palm Tree directly against a sidewalk or driveway.
If you want to avoid any issues completely, planting a Palm Tree around 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) from any concrete will ensure no damage and that your Palm Tree can grow to its full potential.
Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Fence?
If you plant a Palm Tree right against the fence, it does have the potential to damage a fence. If the fence is less than 3 feet (1 m) away, the root ball may grow partially out of the soil. The root ball can cause the fence to tilt or lift out of the ground.
To be safe, try and grow Palm Trees at least 4 feet (1.25 m) away from any fence or structure.
Can Palm Tree Roots Damage a Pool?
Smaller Palm Tree varieties should be fine to grow near a pool. They don’t grow root balls large enough to cause a problem. However, larger varieties should probably be planted at least 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) away, just in case.
This not only stops the very slim possibility that the Palm Tree roots could damage your pool but also ensures that your Palm Tree isn’t stunted in growth.
How Close Should a Palm Tree Be to a House?
Like anything else, to reduce the risk of damage to your home and ensure that your Palm Tree can grow to its full ability, you don’t want to plant a Palm Tree too close. For smaller varieties, you could stay within 3 feet (1 m).
However, to be safe, you generally want to be anywhere between 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) away from your home.
Can I Plant a Palm Tree Next to a Wall?
If you are going with a large variety that grows naturally in the wild and can grow very tall, you want to make sure your Palm Tree is at least 30 feet (9 m) away from a wall. For more “garden-sized” varieties, sticking with the 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) guideline is fine.
You simply want to provide enough space so that the root ball won’t push up against the wall to prevent the wall from damaging or stunting your Palm Tree’s growth.
What Is the Distance Between Two Palm Trees?
To ensure that your Palm Trees get the distance they need to stop the roots from competing, it is generally recommended that you plant them about 11 to 12 feet (3.3 to 3.6 m) apart. This gives them space to grow and stretch out if they need to.
However, if they are smaller, or you know they will receive enough water, growing them around 6 feet (2 m) apart is fine. As long as the roots stay in the ball and they don’t spread out, they are unlikely to harm each other or compete for resources.
Palm Trees make for a beautiful garden feature. Whether you use them to display a shady and scenic tropical view or provide a bit of height to your garden, they make a perfect decoration.
Palm Trees develop root balls instead of a taproot so they don’t have very deep roots like other large trees. A Palm Tree root ball often reaches about 3 feet (1 m) in diameter, and you generally want to plant them anywhere between 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 2 m) away from your home.
The roots don’t grow out much as long as they get plenty of water. To be safe, you can plant them a little bit further out. Thanks to their shallow roots and small root ball, they are not often destructive to pipes, concrete, or other structures.