How Much Does Palm Tree Removal Cost?
These tall, swaying beauties present unique challenges when they need to be removed. It’s helpful to understand those components and how they affect palm tree removal cost.
- It typically costs between $150 and $1,150 to remove a palm tree from a yard.
- Some of the factors that determine palm tree removal cost include the size and species of the tree, the tree’s condition, the location and accessibility of the tree, the number of trees to be removed, the cost of labor, cleanup and disposal fees, and the home’s geographic location.
- It may be necessary to remove a palm tree if the owner notices that the tree is dead or dying, is leaning, or is infested by pests. Additionally, the homeowner may have safety concerns about the tree, or it may be located too close to power lines or structures.
- A homeowner may be able to remove a small palm tree themselves, but for trees taller than 15 feet, it’s best practice for the homeowner to call a professional to remove the tree.
For those living in states where palm trees grow, they may seem like part of the scenery—simply part of the view on the way to work each day. For those who live in the nearly 40 states where palm trees don’t grow, they’re exotic, tropical, and mysterious: how do they bend so far without snapping off? The qualities that make palm trees feel exotic also make them strong: Soft, heavy wood that bends without breaking, a careful balance of tough bark, and a shock of breezy fronds are supported by an extensive lateral layer of roots that are surprisingly shallow but provide a strong anchor for the tall trees against the wind.
Like all trees, palms have to be maintained appropriately to remain healthy. They also need to be kept clear of power lines, buildings, and roads for healthy growth and safety. Sometimes, though, a palm tree needs to be taken down if it has become diseased or dangerously weak or it has grown into a space where it is unsafe. In many cases, removal for a palm tree costs more than the cost to remove other types of trees because of the special equipment and techniques required due to a palm’s height and structure. There are several factors that influence palm tree removal cost. Being educated on these factors can make it easier for homeowners to construct a palm tree removal cost calculator to help decide which professional estimates are reasonable and which are over the top. This can help homeowners build a reasonable budget for removal when the time comes. According to HomeGuide, the average cost ranges from $150 for a small tree to more than $1,150 for more complex removals.
Factors in Calculating Palm Tree Removal Cost
Most of the factors that determine palm tree removal cost are similar to those that guide pricing for other kinds of tree removal. However, the way those factors affect the cost of palm tree removal differs due to the unique structure of the palm trees.
Tree Size and Species
Palm trees can grow to surprising heights, and the height of the tree determines the complexity of the removal and the equipment necessary to complete the task. Trees up to 30 feet tall will cost between $150 and $450 to remove. Trees between 30 and 60 feet tall will cost between $200 and $950, and trees between 60 and 80 feet average from $400 to $1,100. If the tree to be removed is taller, the cost jumps sharply, as specialty equipment and expertise are needed for the removal. Homeowners can expect to pay between $1,100 and $1,500 or more for the removal project.
|Palm Tree Size
|Average Removal Cost
|Up to 30 feet
|$150 to $450
|30 to 60 feet
|$200 to $950
|60 to 80 feet
|$400 to $1,100
|Over 80 feet
|$1,100 to $1,500
Trunk diameter can also be a factor: Some species of palm trees are considerably wider than others. Most species of palm max out around 20 inches in diameter, but some, such as the date palm, can grow up to 60 inches across. Wider trees will add significantly to the removal cost because of equipment needs, weight, and disposal increases.
Trees that have been maintained are easier and safer to remove than trees that have not—even if the tree has become diseased. Palm trees that have been regularly trimmed are tidier and have fewer crossed and tangled fronds, making it easier for the palm tree cutters to clearly see and access the upper portions of the tree for removal and making the tree itself more consistently shaped. Trees that have not been well cared for and trees that have not been trimmed in quite some time will cost more to remove as the workers deal with insect infestation and dead or tangled fronds. Diseased or unstable trees increase the risk to workers during the removal and may require a higher fee as well. Diseased trees can also cost more in disposal fees, as it’s unsafe to dispose of sick trees in a way that will spread the disease to other specimens.
Tree Accessibility and Location
While a professional may be able to rope or shimmy up a very small palm tree, taller trees will absolutely require equipment to reach the heights of the tree for removal. This may include bucket trucks, scaffold lifts, or other equipment to raise the removers close enough to the top of the tree for roping and cutting. If the tree is close to the road or accessible easily by vehicle, the cost of the removal will be less and likely won’t result in additional charges for access. If, however, the tree is on a steep slope or in a backyard that isn’t accessible, removers will either have to provide different specialty equipment or find alternative solutions, which will likely add to the overall cost. Also, there needs to be enough space to bring the tree down safely, either whole or in chunks. If the space is extremely limited, more cuts will be necessary, which takes additional time and labor.
Number of Trees
In general, more trees in need of removal equals more equipment, more labor time, and more disposal cost. In some cases, the best tree removal services might offer a discount to a customer who wants to remove a number of trees in one job, as the equipment will already be on-site, but most of the time homeowners can expect to pay more for each additional tree removed after the first.
Palm trees are tall and, despite their airy appearance, extremely heavy: they can weigh between 100 and 1,000 pounds per foot of trunk. Because of the weight and structure of the trees, it’s best to hire an arborist to handle the removal. Arborists’ hourly or project rates vary by area and by season, so it’s ideal for those who need services to shop around for experienced arborists who know how to remove a palm tree and to compare their rates before selecting one.
Cleanup and Disposal
Usually, the set cost for felling a palm tree will include removing the tree down to a small stump and cleaning up the yard. In some cases, the contract will also include hauling away the trunk and fronds, but if not, those charges may be added on separately; depending on the size, haul-away will cost in the neighborhood of $350. If the property is located far from a disposal area, that cost may increase. For around $95, the trunk can be run through a chipper for mulch or landscaping, and many companies can split the wood into fireplace-size logs for burning for about $70. Palm tree stump removal will also be an added charge. For homeowners wondering if free palm tree removal is available in exchange for the wood that is produced from the tree, it’s generally possible to get a slight discount. However, it’s unlikely that the removal will be free unless a landscaper is very interested in the mulch.
The cost for any tree removal varies by state, because each state has different environmental laws, permitting requirements, disposal specifications, and other fees that can affect the cost of a removal project. Palm trees are found in only 12 to 14 states in the United States, mostly in the southern part of the country, but each of those states has different laws governing tree removal cost. In addition, a palm tree removal service in remote locations may incur additional travel charges for the equipment to be moved to appropriate areas, while removal in more densely developed areas may require paying fees for permits and traffic control due to the size of the equipment required for palm tree removal. The following table shows the average cost to remove a palm tree in several states.
|Average Palm Tree Removal Cost
|$140 to $925
|$150 to $1,150
|$130 to $900
|$135 to $1,000
|$180 to $1,100
|$140 to $1,000
|$145 to $980
|$135 to $975
|$135 to $975
|$130 to $1,250
Additional Costs and Considerations
The aforementioned costs will be part of the equation for every tree removal project, but there are other considerations that homeowners will want to take into account and include in the budget, even though they don’t necessarily relate to every project.
Emergency Tree Removal
Any professional service that is done in response to an emergency situation ramps up the cost quickly—everyone knows that an emergency visit from a plumber or electrician is going to hurt their wallet and that an emergency room visit costs more than a regular doctor’s appointment. Tree removal operates under the same conditions: If the tree needs to be removed immediately because it is creating a safety hazard, homeowners can expect the cost to be 2 to 3 times higher than it would otherwise be, averaging around $2,500. It may be possible to postpone the cleanup, stump grinding, and haul-away until a later date when the project can be scheduled for less expense. This cost can jump even higher in the wake of a significant storm, when crews are exceptionally busy.
Palm Tree Transplanting
In some cases, trees need to be removed because they are diseased or damaged by a storm. In other cases, trees are presenting a safety hazard because of their location or need to be moved because the trees themselves are threatened by another object. Most people prefer not to chop down a healthy tree if it’s not absolutely necessary, and in those cases it’s worth investigating whether or not the tree can be transplanted. Palm trees are shallow-rooted trees and, despite their height, can generally be transplanted more easily than other types of tree with the proper know-how and equipment. This option may or may not be less expensive than simply removing and disposing of the tree; the lowest cost to transplant generally begins around $400, especially if the tree can be transplanted on the same property. If it needs to be moved elsewhere, the cost can quickly mount to $5,000 or more, especially because palm trees are tall and heavy, which makes moving them any distance a challenge. And the cost of palm trees is generally lower than the total cost of offsite transplanting. In those cases transplanting will be worth the cost only if the tree is of particular value, either sentimental or financial.
Palm Tree Trimming
Sometimes it appears that a tree needs to be completely removed, but actually a well-done trimming or pruning can make the tree safe and healthy in its existing location. Palm tree trimming on a healthy tree that has been regularly maintained will depend on the cost: tree trimming costs for shorter trees less than 30 feet tall will fall between $75 and $400, while much taller trees can cost up to $1,200. If the tree has not been trimmed or cared for regularly, the cost can be higher—but almost always less than the cost of removing the tree. Because it is easy to accidentally remove too many fronds or too much bark from a palm tree, which can weaken or kill it, it’s best to hire a professional with experience using the very sharp palm tree trimmer tools to handle this task; even the best loppers may not be up to this task. Those with experience in this area will have the skills to take on appropriately shaving a palm tree, cleaning minor pest infestations, and removing the correct number of fronds to keep the tree healthy and strong.
Homeowners insurance generally will not cover the cost of tree removal. The rare exception is when a tree has been broken or fallen completely down during a storm or other natural disaster. Even then, the insurance may cover the removal of the broken parts of the tree but not the remaining stump. It’s best not to count on homeowners insurance to defray the cost of tree removal in general, but particularly for palm trees, which have evolved to bend and sway in the wind rather than breaking off.
During any tree removal, pieces of the falling tree can damage or destroy other plants or landscaping, and once the stump has been ground, there will be a good-size break in the ground cover. Hiring landscapers to relocate any delicate plants prior to the tree removal, repair or replace any that are destroyed, and level and cover the spot where the tree previously stood can add $100 or more to the cost of the project.
Unless the homeowner plans to make the palm tree stump into a decorative landscaping piece, it will need to be ground or dug out. Palm trees have shallow root systems, so it may be possible to dig out the stump more easily than it is with deeper-rooted trees. It’s likely to make a bit of a mess of the yard and will cost between $150 and $500 plus the cost of landscaping repair, but it could potentially be a DIY job. Grinding the stump to about 6 inches below the surface of the yard is slightly less expensive at an average of $100 to $400, depending on the size of the stump and the terrain. The free option is to let the stump degrade naturally over several years, perhaps concealing it with decorative plantings, but many homeowners don’t want to work around a stump as it rots, so removal is the preferred choice.
Once the palm tree is cut down, the wood has to go somewhere. Some people choose to simply have it hauled away, while others have it cut into firewood for use or sale. Another option is to have the wood chipped into mulch for other landscaping projects. While many homeowners have rented wood chippers to handle this part of a tree removal on their own, chipping a palm tree is best done by a professional with a high-grade chipper. Palm is a very soft wood, which makes it a great mulch—the chips won’t blow away easily and will preserve moisture in the soil underneath—but it also makes it difficult to chip well. Plus the fronds are very tough and stringy, so if they get caught in a rented chipper they may break the machine or create a dangerous situation. For this reason the chipping should be done on a sharp, well-maintained machine by someone knowledgeable about the potential problems. The cost will average between $75 and $125 per hour.
Do I need palm tree removal?
In some cases, a palm tree will let its owner know when it’s time to cut it down. Sometimes the signs are more subtle: What appears to be a small pest infestation could be much larger and both damage the host tree irreparably and spread to other trees. Any sign of infestation means a visit from an arborist to assess the tree is necessary.
Dead or Dying Tree
Sparse and brown fronds, visible rot discoloring the base of the tree, or visible cracks or splinters in the tree trunk all indicate that the tree is unhealthy and that prompt removal is necessary for safety purposes. As palm trees die and rot, the wood dries out and the tree becomes lightweight and fragile in the rotted areas, sometimes topped by long expanses of unrotted trunk. When this happens, the tree can become dangerously top-heavy and unstable. At that point, it’s critical to remove the tree before it falls down on its own, potentially causing damage or injury.
Trees grow at an angle or develop a lean for many reasons. Some are seeking the sun around a larger shade tree or building, some were planted on a slant to begin with, while others have lost root mass to damage, erosion, or floods; still others have been blown in the same direction by the wind for so long that they have bent to its will. A slight lean isn’t a problem, especially given the palm tree’s wide, sturdy, shallow root system, which has evolved to let the trees lean without snapping. But if the tree is leaning too far or if that root system has been compromised by pest damage, equipment damage, or rot, the tree won’t be able to right itself and will eventually fall. Such trees need to be removed.
Pest infestations in trees create two problems. The first is that they can damage the host tree: Insects that chew on the fibers of the tree weaken the tree’s structure and can render it unsound. The second problem is that insects have no borders—why limit themselves to one tree when they can easily fly or hop over to the next, and the next? A tree that has a severe pest infestation is a danger in and of itself, because of the structural weakness the damage creates, but it’s also a danger to all of the other nearby trees. The infested tree needs to be treated or carefully removed to prevent the insects from simply moving on to the next tree.
Damage, disease, age, erosion, and a host of other influences can render a tree unstable. This isn’t necessarily a problem if the tree is in an isolated area where it won’t hurt someone or damage a structure if it falls. However, when an unstable tree is on a property where a sudden tree drop could hurt or kill people or land on buildings, cars, or other structures that can be crushed, it’s time to remove the tree to maintain safety in the area.
Proximity to Power Lines or Structures
When a palm tree has grown too close to power lines and threatens the lines during storms, or when a tree has grown too close to buildings and threatens their structure, it needs to be trimmed or brought down in a controlled and safe way. Palm trees are remarkably resistant to strong winds: They look unwieldy because the fronds are wide and tall, bobbing around on the top of the trunks that appear spindly in comparison, but their root system and the softness of the wood allow them to bend rather than snap. However, any tree that is close to power lines or buildings has the potential to do catastrophic damage when hit with wind, lightning, or a vehicle in just the wrong way. Trees that pose a risk to power transmission or buildings should be relocated or removed.
Palm Tree Removal: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Small palm trees—those that are 15 feet tall or less, with trunks that a regular home chain saw can cut in one pass—can be taken down by homeowners who are comfortable with a chain saw and ropes, as long as there are no structures or wires that are likely to be snagged. Grinding down smaller stumps can also be a DIY project as long as the homeowner uses one of the best stump grinders and no fronds get caught in the machinery.
Any palm tree larger than that should be left to tree removal professionals to take down. It can be difficult to assess the health and stability of the trunk from the ground, so pros can use a bucket or crane to check the tree and determine if it can be rope climbed or if a tall lift or crane will be needed to safely remove each piece of the trunk. Otherwise, DIYers run the risk of cutting into a piece of heavy wood that is just above a brittle hollowed-out section and suffer severe injury. Trying to fell a very tall palm tree, even for experienced amateur tree cutters, is risky as well: Some species have fronds and bark with sharp spikes that can cause damage or injury when they fall, plus palm trees are top-heavy, where most other trees have the lightest and thinnest part of the tree at the very top. Unless the tree is very small and manageable, it’s best and safest to let a professional—preferably an arborist—handle the removal.
How to Save Money on Palm Tree Removal Cost
With other types of tree removal projects, homeowners can save a little cash by removing low branches and easy-to-access limbs themselves. In most cases, the “lower branches” on palm trees are well above the reach of a standard folding ladder; if a tree needs to be removed, homeowners are strongly encouraged not to lean a ladder against it to cut down branches. Luckily, there are some other ways to save money and eliminate risk to the homeowner.
- Keep up with maintenance. To avoid the need for tree removal, take care of regular maintenance. Have the tree trimmed and cleaned regularly. When it’s time to remove the tree, it will be healthier and easier (and cheaper) to take down.
- Request estimates from multiple professionals. Arborists and landscapers who are more experienced with palm tree removal may come in with lower costs than those who aren’t as familiar with this tree’s particular quirks—but be careful about lowball offers. Check those bids to make sure the professional has palm tree removal experience.
- Make it easier for the removal team to access the tree. Take down fences, move landscaping and lawn furniture, and ask neighbors if it’s okay for the crew to use their driveway or yard.
- Contact your utility company. Contact utility companies to ask for lines to be lowered or temporarily removed to reduce risk.
- If possible, wait until the offseason. Even in mild climates where palm trees grow, arborists and landscapers have less-busy times of year where costs may be less.
Questions to Ask About Palm Tree Removal
In addition to asking basic questions about the process, homeowners hiring professionals to remove palm trees will need to check into the experience, knowledge, licensing, and insurance of any company or individual professional they’re considering. The following offer some helpful starting points.
- How long have you been in business?
- Can you provide references?
- Are palm trees a type of tree you frequently remove?
- Are all of your workers licensed, bonded, and insured?
- What challenges do you anticipate with my particular tree?
- What equipment will you use?
- How will you minimize damage to the rest of my yard?
Removing a palm tree isn’t that different from removing any other kind of tree, as long as the contractor doing the work is very experienced in working with palms. But there’s a lot to consider in terms of figuring out the cost and deciding when the time is right for a removal—especially since the majority of the tree is too high up for easy inspection. The following are a few of the most frequently asked questions about palm tree removal, plus their answers, to help homeowners get some of the basics out of the way before their research into a well-qualified contractor begins.
Q. Is it difficult to remove a palm tree?
It’s not inherently difficult with the right tools and experience. It IS more difficult—and dangerous—for a homeowner with a chain saw and little experience with palm tree cutting. Removing the stump left behind after a qualified professional has removed the tree can be a DIY job if it’s done carefully and with the right tools. Palms have some hidden characteristics, such as very heavy wood and spiky bark and fronds, that can make removing them a tough road for DIYers.
Q. Do palms have deep roots?
Palm roots grow horizontally, spreading as far out as possible to gather water and nutrients to feed up through the tall trunks to the fronds. It may seem that trees that are so tall would need deep roots to hold them firmly in the ground, but the relatively shallow, widespread root system spreads the pressure the tree experiences in windy conditions over such a large area of soil that the roots do a better job of anchoring the tree and letting it sway and bend with the wind than a deep root system would.
Q. Will a palm tree grow back if you cut it?
It will not, although depending on the species, it may appear that it will. All palm trees grow from a point called the growing tip, which begins close to the base. If the growing tip is severed, the tree will not grow any more and will die. However, some types of palm tree, called clustering palm trees, have multiple trunk stems. Those trees have a growing tip for each stem, so one stem can be cut off and the others will continue to grow. It’s not regrowth, but it is normal growth of other parts of the plant. If the tree is too damaged, the homeowner may need to consider the cost to plant a tree to replace the dead one.
Q. What happens if you cut all the leaves off a palm tree?
Cutting off dead or dying fronds is important to the health of the tree and prevents pests from taking up residence. However, removing too many fronds at once will make the tree begin to weaken and will prevent the tree from taking in nutrients and making food, leaving the tree unhealthy. In general, as many healthy fronds should be left on the tree as possible.