Question: I have a 30 year old, 12′ Ponytail Palm that a previous homeowner planted in an awkward place, too close to our patio and I believe it may be causing the cracking in the patio. I’d love to save it and move it to another location in the yard but have real concerns about the effort involved and the tree’s chances of survival. The only access to the back yard, without removing significant amounts of other landscaping, is through a 3′ wide gate. I’m hoping you can offer some advise, as my husband keeps threatening to fire up the chainsaw. Thanks.
Answer: Ponytail Palm is one of my favorite palm trees and I would be very sad to see it being chopped. Definitely try to save it. If the palm is over 30 gallon you will need some kind of heavy equipment, like tractor or a crane. It sound like there is not good entrance into the back yard for the machines. You could hire a team of strong guys who will be able to lift the palm and move it. When palm gets transplanted, it loses part or all of the roots. It needs as much time as it can get to establish new roots before the winter comes. That is why I recommend doing all the transplanting in early Spring or Summer.
Start by removing 1/2 of the leaves from the palm. Also, tie the fronds together. Next, get the soil moist prior to digging it out. Palm roots extend as far as the leaves of the palm. When digging, leave about 2-3 feet around the trunk and down. After lifting the palm, plant it as soon as possible. Make sure roots don’t dry out in between digging and planting. You can wrap it with some damp tarp. Be very careful not to damage too much roots and the bark. I wrote a very detailed step-by-step article on transplanting palm tree from one location to another. ~Susan Brian
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