Trimming a Palm Tree

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Hey everybody. Our new home came with unexpected and unwanted guests…scorpions! Since we’re living near a mountain it’s common to see a bit more wildlife around these parts. Our first night in our new home we found two scorpions in one of the rooms. We dubbed it the scorpion room and use it primarily to store tools and other goods that will be used in future projects. We’ve managed to rid the inside of our home of scorpions and even adopted a kitten, Maruchan for extra nighttime vigilance. Unfortunately, our furry guardian couldn’t handle the scorpions that could be lurking outside in a cozy palm tree.


I did some research and learned that palm trees are an oasis for scorpion breeding. We have two palm trees on our property, one of them being next to an old unused shed. We weren’t planning on keeping the either palm tree anyways, the scorpions encouraged a hasty removal.

We’re not at the point yet where we’ve decided to yank out the trees and do away with them. We hosted an awesome costume party a couple weeks ago and decided to trim the one in the back yard to make it more presentable.  It was originally mangy and unkempt. It had many dead leaves hanging off of it and looked like it hadn’t been trimmed before. My dad would be helping me with the clean up and he actually got a head start on it before I showed up so I apologize about not having any ‘before’ pictures.

The tools we used for this task were

We also made sure to cover up our arms and legs, scorpions could be hiding anywhere!

Spiky Palm Tree Fronds

My dad started off by pruning off the lower spiky fronds. He used the chainsaw to trim them off starting from the lower part of the palm tree.

Trimming a Palm Tree

As you can see we had to start pruning from very low on the trunk. We worked our way up and around the trunk until we got to the green fronds we were planning on leaving intact.

Trimming a Palm Tree

Removing the Fibers

Now we had to remove all of the dry debris left on the trunk. Palm trees grow by creating layers of fronds over and around itself. When these grow old and dry off they become a very tough fiber which is quite resistant. The ones that are completely dry can sometimes be pulled right off. Most of the time the layering on the palm trunk is so strong that you have to hack away at it before you can remove any of the layers.

What we did was cut all the way around the lower part of the palm tree using the chainsaw. By cutting around we loosen some of the old fronds and pulling them off becomes much easier. If you have trouble pulling off some of the layers a box cutter or serrated knife makes it easy to tear through the fibers.

Working your way through the layers is no easy task. Most people simply trim the fronds as short as they can and leave them on the palm tree. As a result it gives the trunk a spiky rock texture as it grows.

What we did was peel all the way through to the greener layers of the trunk. Most people would recommend not to do this since it might hurt your palm tree, but we plan on removing it altogether at some point.

We used the box cutter to keep cutting circles around the tree trunk and simply peeled the layers off as they became loose.

Cleaning it Up

The inner layers of the palm tree trunk are smooth and cool, its no wonder scorpions and other critters would love it as a place to hide from the sun.

Trimming a Palm Tree

Once we were happy with the appearance of the trunk our next task was to clean up the shaggy fibers that were left on the lower parts of the trunk. To clean these up we took the chainsaw and gave the tree a nice haircut.

Trimming a Palm Tree

Trimming a Palm Tree

My dad claims to be a good barber, but I’ve already made the mistake of letting him cut my hair once.

Once all of the fibers been removed all that’s left is to clean up and haul away the trash. Our city water services allow us to haul up to a ton of biodegradable waste which they turn into compost.

Aside from a few pricked arms and fingers the project was relatively easy to do. We found no signs of scorpions and made it tougher for them to hide while until we remove the tree. The palm tree looked great and added a nice accent for the party ambiance.

Palm tree

I hope this chronicle encourages you to give a try yourself. If you have any questions or feedback don’t hesitate to leave a note.


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