A lot of new gardeners get worried when their young palm trees’ leaves begin to die off from the base. They fear that something might be wrong with their palm tree, but this is a perfectly natural phenomenon.
A palm tree has a very specific number of leaves that it is able to support and, since it makes more leaves as it grows, the oldest leaves die off when the maximum number of leaves is reached allowing for stem development. When the palm trees are still fairly young, cleaning them up is a simple matter. A good, hard yank removes the dead leaf and its leaf base with ease. Do approach this task carefully all the same as many palm trees have spines towards the base of each leaf and these can be quite vicious.
However, as your palm trees grow, cleaning them up can be a daunting task. Imagine trying to do this whilst balanced on a ladder! Even a palm that still looks workable from ground-level can be dangerous. In one of the nurseries I worked at, a mid-sized palm was being cleaned and the leaf fell on a worker’s foot, impaling it completely with one of its spines :(
At this point, you would be justified in considering getting the help of a professional arborist or tree surgeon who has all the necessary safety equipment that’s needed to get the job done. The alternative is to live with the ‘skirt’ of old leaves, but this is also a safety issue. In nature, palm trees clean themselves by letting go of the dead leaves when there is a wind blowing: not the sort of thing you want landing on someone on a windy day!
Litigation as a result of plant related damages is a reality. Many people have found themselves being sued for damages caused by anything from invasive plant roots to – you guessed it – palm leaves parting company from the tree and landing on someone’s car or worse yet, on some other person.
On the Gold Coast palm trees are not only prevalent in most public areas and beachfront, but can also be found in many backyards.