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Palm before the storm: why now is the time to trim trees ahead of monsoon

Arborists say now is the time to consider trimming your trees
palm tree
Posted at 1:25 PM, May 20, 2024

PHOENIX — Ahead of monsoon, arborists say now is the time to consider trimming your trees.

A local nursery shared how much is too much to pay for tree trimming and why climbing up one of those popular palms may be bad for your tree.

Behind the job

Before it gets too hot in the day, Ricardo Morales is in a familiar spot — hoisted by a bucket truck about 20 feet in the air and buried in a palm tree, this is where the tree trimmer has made a living for years.

”It’s only my job, a good job. But safety first,” he said before he started his duties.

palm tree trimming

From a bird’s eye view, there’s no question that the palm tree is a landscaping staple in many Arizona cities.

Come late May ahead of the start of monsoon in June is when business for places like Moon Valley Nurseries starts to really fan out.

”(We’re) probably the busiest right now,” said Steph Lemrise, who heads the tree care division for all of Arizona at Moon Valley Nurseries. She’s certified with the International Society of Arboriculture and the Tree Care Industry Association.

For the safety of the crew and others down below, she says they try to trim as many trees as possible with the bucket truck or an extended pruner. However, that’s not always possible which means tree trimmers will harness up and climb a tree.

palm tree trimmer

Lemrise says, if not done carefully, climbing a tree isn’t always good for its long-term health.

”The biggest disadvantage is them using their spikes or gaffs — palm trees, once you make those holes in there, opens it up to a lot of fungus (and) bacteria that can enter the palm through those wounds. They don’t heal or seal over like other trees do.”

One look at your tree, and you’ll know if it’s time for its annual haircut

When a palm tree starts to get droopy or you see seeds starting to sprout, that’s when you know it’s time to trim your palms.

If unkept, seed sprouts can spread to your neighbor’s yard, and dead fronds can hit powerlines, which can cause all kinds of issues during a storm and even tinder for a fire.

Dying Palm Trees

We called around for quotes on how much is too much for tree trimming. Consumer reports say to be prepared to pay $125 to $800 in Arizona.

Lemrise said it all depends on the job.

”Price is totally situational, depending on what kind of palm, how much growth it has, it can range $600 to a few thousand (dollars) depending...a big one or one with a lot of growth,” said Lemrise.

When the debris falls in your neighbor’s yard, Lemrise says the proper palm pick-up protocol is for crews to knock on your neighbor’s door and have the crew pick it up.

“Always leave the job site better than we arrived,” Lemrise said.

There’s a balance to hit when trimming palms

If trimmed too early, you could see flower stalks and have to pay to trim again. That’s why late May to early June may be the time to get the job done.

Ahead of monsoon, consider this the palm before the storm.