Sunday, April 22, 2007

SoCal Excitement - Goodbye, Palm Tree!!

Yesterday was a very big day Chez CBM. We got rid of our Mexican Fan Palm tree. It was here when we bought the house in 1991, and it was about 40-45 feet tall. These trees grow a foot or so per year, according to one arborist, so she estimated the height at about 60 feet. As we have had more years in SoCal and as homeowners with one of these, we lost our enchantment with having a palm tree. I've included a couple of pictures of SoCal streets, lined with these palms at different heights, just so you know what ours looked like before.

They drop LOTS of seeds every year, and the seeds sprout easily. This involves pulling a zillion seedlings. The fronds die and hang down and should be cut away every couple of years, though many people don't do this. Having them trimmed is expensive; we've paid as much as $400. The picture here of the very tall trees shows how the dead fronds look; these are just a year or two past a trim.

When there are high winds, as we had last fall and in the last week or so, the dead fronds blow off and land in the neighbors' yards, which isn't neighborly of us. These dead fronds are nearly 5 feet long, they're rather heavy and have sharp stickers along the stems. You have to haul them to the dump or slowly chop them into pieces small enough to go into the green recycling barrels, which can take weeks and weeks. Last fall, with a pile of them 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall, I was fortunate to be able to talk one of the city tree-trimming crews into taking them away. (Smirk.)

DH had decided he wanted to plant several fruit trees, and the dratted palm tree, bigger in diameter at the base than the two of us could reach around, was smack in the way. So - away it went. These pictures show it going away, courtesy of some hard-working guys, one of whom was up there in a rope harness, sawing away 2-3 foot chunks. The trunks are very dense and moist, so the thuds were pretty loud. Looking out there today, our yard looks so much bigger, and there are a lot of very confused squirrels, wondering where their play tree went.

Here's our tree, with all the fronds cut off, ready for the first bits of trunk to go.

Here you see Ernesto has cut away all the bare part of the trunk and is working his way down, with the telephone pole finally into the picture.

Then he's at 'normal' extension-ladder height.

Here's a photo of the chunks that they had to haul away, with the plywood 'tee-pee' over our fountain. Roman did most of the hauling.

And then it's gone, with the stump dug out to about 6in below ground. Ernesto and Roman were taking a break, looking at the result of a long, hard day's work.

I provided a bit of money for a cool beer or two, in thanks for the great job they did. We won't be able to plant trees over the underground stump, but we can plant them close to the edges and put flowers in the middle.


jillian said...

Wow - what a big change that will make to your yard. More room to plant :)

Madge said...

How exciting! Wow, a 60' tree?! Pretty amazing when you think about it. RIP palm. Hello fruit trees! What are you thinking? Apricot? Citrus? Pomegranite? So many great choices here in SoCal.

Happy gardening!

Having a Knit Fitt said...

Will it try to grow back from the stump? It is my experience that the trees you don't want can be darn persistent. Never allow an ailanthus past the seedling stage or you will have it forever!

Grace Yaskovic said...

wow, brings back memories, my dear old dad was a tree man back in the day, his nickname was WOODY!

jayne said...

Your view of the yard must be dramatically different now. It will be fun to plan the space.

Karen came over yesterday, and I got to see the shawl in progress. I posted pix of it on blog.

smariek said...

Wow, I neither knew that those trees grew that fast nor that they were such a pain to maintain.

TracyKM said...

Wow, not a DIY project! Enjoy your fruit :)

Suzann said...

I remember the palm fronds from when I lived in Long Beach. The spiky bits. What a difference this is going to make to your yard. What kind of fruit trees is DH going to plant? If I remember correctly SoCal is like a garden of eden for fruit growers.