My son lives in San Diego and asked my advice on removing the stump of a
palm tree. So on our last visit, I piled some of my tools in a
suitcase, including a hatchet, steel wedges, a small sledge, and a
strong knife (my big ax wouldn't fit in the suitcase). Three TSA
inspectors had heart attacks, apparently thinking they had caught a
terrorist, but finally everything got to San Diego. I've broken out a
few hardwood and softwood stumps with those tools, but had very little
success with this palm tree. Most of the stump is reedy and very tough,
and even dulled my knife. On the farm, dynamite was handy, but I wasn't
sure they would allow it in San Diego. I even thought of burning it
where it had dried, but I quit smoking and didn't have any matches, and
they have so much trouble with wildfires out there I didn't want to risk
causing more heart attacks. Not to malign the people of California, but
all their back yards are fenced, with no gate big enough to bring in
even a small bobcat, and I was too lazy to take down the damn fence for
that, so the stump is still there. I didn't want to try a chain saw in
the confines of the pit around the stump, for safety reasons. This
stump looks too tough to decompose.
So what would be the best way to remove it, assuming I ever go back
If it's anything like a King Palm from Florida, the base is a round ball.
Depending on the height of the tree the base widens I had 40 footers when
I lived there and the ball was 5 feet in diameter. The way they pulled them
out was digging a trench around the circumfirence of the ball then using
heavy equipment to lift the ball.
The best way may not be legal :o) We had a palm stump in our condo yard
that showed me how tough they are .. they are like a tightly wound ball
of twine. No saw or knife would do signifcant damage, so we decided
burning was "it". Now, a ball of string soaks up (and holds forever?) a
lot of water. Well, oil and water don't mix but alcohol and water do.
Just soak it, wait a while, light it...we got rid of enough of our stump
that we were able to cover the remains with soil. I would not suggest
that anyone do this if burning isn't allowed or if conditions are not
perfect. It makes the day more interesting if you pour more alcohol on
the stump while it is still smoldering; be sure to toss the can far
enough that it can't burn anything else in the yard, the house or your
helper :o) Fire extinguisher and water hose important to this project :o)
They don't have tool stores in San Diego? You missed a Teachable Moment
there, Dad. All the tools you listed are things any homeowner should
have on hand anyway.
As to how to remove- sharp machete and something to keep sharpening it.
You just keep nibbling away at it. If you have more money than time, a
stump grinder or shovel and skycrane.
Most palms have very shallow roots. In sandy soil - such as we have here in
Florida - I'd hook a chain around it and pull it out. I *know* it will come
out with a tractor pulling, probably with a 4WD or truck, maybe with a car.
Wet the soil down well first.
replying to norminn, MrDowntown wrote:
The roots of a palm do not go very deep, but rather they go wide. They are very
flexible, and cand bend in in extreme winds. The wide root base helps in
keeping them rooted, the fiberous nature of the trunk is what keeps it from
snapping (bend one dowel rod, and it snaps easy. Bend 6 dowel rods bound
together from end to end, and they will flex without snapping). The fronds are
not as strong as the trunk, they are more likely to snap of in high winds, and
then just grow back later.
Palm wood is a nightmare to split, and does not burn well unless you make it
look like shredded wheat (which isn't worth the trouble unless it's all you have
to work with). To split it, it's best to chop it into short logs, and then
split small pieces around the outside working your way into the middle. If you
try to split it by hand down the middle, it will string up between the halves,
and you will waste a lot of time trying to pull them apart. If you must go that
route, a good ole fashioned hand saw, or pruners is a lot easier at clipping the
strands in the middle.
I drove around taking photos during hurricane Charley (what can I say, I live
dangerously). I saw a lot of palm trees nearly bent to the ground during that
adventure. Most all of the trees that I saw break were not a palm variety.
Ringed tree's can snap in hurricane force winds. We had a lot of trees to
remove after the storm.
If you have the time, and the tools, a large self feeding auger bit down the
middle will help rot it out faster.
Another thing you could do is dig it out around the base, and chop the roots
with an axe, then drag it out with machinery, or a railroad tie tripod, and a
winch after you have cut the large roots around the base to a depth of about 18".
Or, build a raised garden bed; fill it with soil, and grow food.
Getting the stump out depends on the size of the root ball. I have two
palm stumps in the back yard. One has a 36 inch root ball, the other a
48 inch root ball. Not about to dig them out without big tools. So the
Create a fire break around the tree and use a couple big bags of
charcoal for the fire. When the charcoal is burned off and the fire is
out, shovel out the ash. The stump will be short enough that you can
replying to gfretwell, KW wrote:
I burned my oak stump out. Cross-hatched cuts with a chain saw, ringed the
stump with concrete block piled in the briquettes,list it on fire and covered it
with my webber grill lid. Two bags of charcoal and two days and the stump was
below grade. I think I will try the alcohol and water concoction mentioned
above. After I cut a bowl in the stump.
You can pull out the stump using a chain and a tractor. The easiest
and cheapest way is to let it rot. Nitrogen fertilizer (34-0-0) will
help it rot faster. Burning is cheap too, but can be annoying to
neighbors. Another option is to hire a stump-removal service.
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