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Damage by Palm Roots

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bgl

RLR explained in the FAQ section why palm roots won't damage concrete. Since that's Read Only I'm starting this new thread. I have no experience with palm roots and concrete, but I have plenty of experience with palms roots and asphalt (black top) and thought it might be appropriate to point out that the roots from certain palms will cause considerable heaving in asphalt, which is softer than concrete. Royal Palms, Clinostigmas, Pigafettas and Cocos nucifera planted within 8-10 ft of asphalt will eventually cause considerable buckling in the blacktop. A safe distance is probably at least 12 ft.

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Kris

Hai bgl,

Yes your Right about palm tree roots creating havoc to cement

plastered side walks,path ways, underground water tanks and

seweage lines.

But i feel that cement or concrete it is just a matter of time,

since my pool and underground water tank was damaged by

our cocos nucifera palm trees. that were placed about 3 to 4 feet away from the damage location. these trees were planted by my granddad about 15 to 18 years back. now he is gone but his trees are playing havoc.

since the contractor has informed us that the pool and the drinking water tank has to be rebuilt. A banyan and a mango

tree has slightly lifted our compound wall too.

Here in india we do not have easy accesses to high pression tools and heavy earth movers. and if avaliable it would cost a

fortune. hence some of the above trees were felled.

But love for palm trees have not diminished because canary island date palms,Breaha armada,Wash filifera,Joey palm,

Bismarkia, cycas revolta,Dragon tree have been added in to our dense garden ! but with nessary precautions as they do not

interfear with the system.

Hence i feel that concrete or just cement works  gets damaged in years to come.sooner or later they will damage the surrounding structures and buildings if placed too close to them.

One Man One Tree..

Love,

Kris (to all my friends).

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Tyrone

(krisachar @ Jul. 10 2006,03:45)

QUOTE
A banyan and a mango

tree has slightly lifted our compound wall too.

Are you sure that your Banyan tree is not the culprit for all of the damage. Palms are monocotyledons and have no secondary thickening of the root system. The banyan tree is a water hungry monster and a dicotyledon which has secondary thickening of the root system, which means it can put a little hair of a root into a crack in the concrete and expand the root many times and just smash any manmade structure apart.

Just a thought before blaming the palms.

regards

Tyrone

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redant

Royal's turned my pavers stone driveway at my previous residence into a rollercoaster ride. At my new house I planted my Royals about 12 ft from the driveway.

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Kris

hai bgl,

I did not know that you love palm trees so...much, that you

do not believe what i said.

India is a hot country and at summer time even people do not have ample drinking water and the wells are dry, so daily routine watering schedule is skipped.

In some rare cases people tend to forget to water trees due to

acute sacrcity.

so these factors assist in huge trees and fully grown Palms to

flex their muscles (i.e their roots i mean) in search of water.

I do not know wheather they crack the structures or the root

enter the all ready damaged structures No Idea.

But I will play it safe from now on and even advice other pals

like you not to take chances. Because i have seen that wheather dycots or monocots the roots of mature tree affect

cement structure near-by due to water scarcity and due to

heavy wind followed by ample rain fall.and if the soil is claye

then the cracks are eminent even on the house structures.

ONE MAN ONE TREE / what you sow ,so you reap.

Love,

Kris (to all my friends).

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Robert Lee Riffle

Bo et al.

That FAQ was not written (or conceived) by moi; it's The Dave's contribution.

I believe it's accurate and appropriate--at least for concrete of any thickness.

--the blob  ..... er, uh, bob

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Walter John

So is concrete and asphalt natural ? Go palm roots, bash em up I say. Yeh and that stone pathway over there, eat em up.

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MattyB

Has anyone pulled up a pond liner and observed a mat of palm roots?  I'm just curious, because I just imaging a white sea of palm roots and fibers cast in the shape of my pond.

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Ken Johnson

I have a real problem with the info in RLR post and I told him so. There is LOTS of potential damage from palm roots and this MUST be thought out before planting them. They certanly do not act like dicots, "secondary thickening" is not a problem. Just remember that as the palm sends out more and more roots the mass of the root system thickens. After that is "palm againts man". Many times the palm wins. I have seen concreat planters break open and cause untold expence to the poor people that were told "don't worry palm roots don't thicken"! And that is just the tip of the iceburg. Just try to maintain something underground that has had a big palm growing next to it for many years. Ever dug up the root system of a coconut? Just try it some time, bet the palm will kick your but, and quick!

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Robert Lee Riffle

Ken, you are MORE than welcome to make submission to the FAQ section (through myself).  And it can be as lengthy as you require (I can make it into several parts if need be).

GO FOR IT!

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Ken Johnson

Thanks RLR!

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Jeff Searle

(Ken Johnson @ Jul. 20 2006,17:38)

QUOTE
I have a real problem with the info in RLR post and I told him so. There is LOTS of potential damage from palm roots and this MUST be thought out before planting them. They certanly do not act like dicots, "secondary thickening" is not a problem. Just remember that as the palm sends out more and more roots the mass of the root system thickens. After that is "palm againts man". Many times the palm wins. I have seen concreat planters break open and cause untold expence to the poor people that were told "don't worry palm roots don't thicken"! And that is just the tip of the iceburg. Just try to maintain something underground that has had a big palm growing next to it for many years. Ever dug up the root system of a coconut? Just try it some time, bet the palm will kick your but, and quick!

Ken,

   I agree fully. I have seen some root mass several feet from large, old palms that are just a nightmare to dig through or around. Minute root growth multiplied by many, many years adds up to possible headaches!

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SunnyFl

(Jeff Searle @ Jul. 21 2006,14:18)

QUOTE
I have seen some root mass several feet from large, old palms that are just a nightmare to dig through or around. Minute root growth multiplied by many, many years adds up to possible headaches!

This is not happy news.

I have my D. Fine-leafs planted 5 or 6' from my concrete driveway - and they aren't small.   Does this mean they must now be moved farther from it?   And if so, how far?

:(  :(  :(

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Jeff Searle

I would say your pretty safe. Dypsis sp. Fine Leaf is not going to be a big palm. Remember, palms are going to have a root system in proportion to their size. I would leave it where it is. Enjoy....

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SunnyFl

(Jeff Searle @ Jul. 21 2006,19:30)

QUOTE
I would say your pretty safe. Dypsis sp. Fine Leaf is not going to be a big palm. Remember, palms are going to have a root system in proportion to their size. I would leave it where it is. Enjoy....

Thank you!  [[breathes big sigh of relief]]

The last thing I want to do is dig it up - these are elegant palms and I want to give my two every chance of success.

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Robert Lee Riffle

I'm not disagreeing with anyone in this thread; but it seems some of you are not responding directly to what Dave wrote. He didn't write that many large palms don't create a tangled and thick mass of roots.  What he's saying, I think, is that, unlike a big ficus or oak, palm roots are NOT going to grow through the concrete shell of your pool or lift you house up.

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August

RLR,

Ive studied the power of palm roots for some years now and find that the Palms, (Phoenix, Foxtail, Royal, Queen, Chirstmas), and their roots are blamed for damage to hardscape that was caused by a myrid of other reasons. Generally poor construction techniques, (improper expansion joints, lack of cut joints, improper base preparation - compaction, drainage issues, and poorly constructed hardscape elements - ie walls and planters) are the culprits in 98% of the instances of "destruction by palm roots"

There is one fact that I hope we all can agree upon - that palm roots are very "adventurous", that they seek water and nutrients and that they can outcompete nearly all others plants in that contest.

What we disagree upon, (though I think you and I agree), is that palm roots weild the same power as do Ficus trees, Southern Magnolia, Live Oak and other trees whose roots carry with them actual destructive force. Palm roots do not weild that power. Proper investigation in all instances of destruction will uncover the real culprit.

Case in point: 3/4" thick travertine pavers, 2' x 2' laid on a compacted coquina base. Four Christmas Palms planted in 5' x 5' cut outs within the paved area seemed to have uplifted the compacted coquina base and caused wide swaths of travertine to ripple and lay uneven. It was believed in this case that the Christmas Palms forcefully uplifted the coquina base, (which if you know, sets up like concrete), and displaced the travertine. Upon investigation it was found that the Christmas Palm roots did not lift or grow through the coquina base, rather, the builder had used a 1/2" thick leveling course of sand on top of the coquina and that the Christmas palms had sent out surface roots that found that damp pourous layer. The "adventurous" roots had simply grown between the paver and the base and had caused what looked like an incredible upheave. Simple pruning of the surface roots relaying the pavers and sealing off the sand layer edge from the roots would solve the problem.

Substantiated: Christmas Palm roots do not carry the "force" that it would take to upheave a 4" compacted coquina base, (or concrete for that matter). And that Christmas palm roots are adventurous and will seek moisture and nutrients in whichever nook they can find.

More Palm root stories for other genus if anyone is interested.

PS

Asphalt, is installed in layers of varying density and finish. If Asphalt was rippled by palm roots it was because the roots penetrated between the layers and not from below, or that the Asphalt was not laid properly. Yes, Asphalt is a much more flexible product than concrete. In the 1930s in Chicago full depth bituminous paving, (asphalt), laid in layers totalling 5" and 8" proved to be incredibly powerful. Unfortunately most asphalt is layed in depths as shallow as 1.5" and never more than 3".

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Davidl

August,

RLR is no longer with us but your post is very informative.

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