How to Brace Your Unestablished Palm Tree

Palm trees grace many landscapes. Many species of these trees can grow to 20 to 40 feet tall and have certain growing requirements. They are especially popular in warm tropical and coastal areas, as they are resistant to wind and offer a special ambiance.

When growing palm trees, you must make sure that they take hold and establish themselves. You may also need to use heavy equipment to make room for the root ball if you are planting a mature tree. Every palm tree needs bracing while it is establishing its foothold.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, "It is generally safe to remove bracing from a palm tree after it has been in the ground for one year."

  • Burlap
  • Wooden posts
  • 2x4 stakes
  • Nails
  • Rope
  • Hammer

Step 1 - Plant Palm Tree

Planting the palm tree is a rather extensive project. You need to dig a large hole for the root ball. In fact, overexcavate the hole by 30 percent to make sure the soil is loose around the root ball. Lift the tree and place it as vertically as possible in the hole. Many species of palm trees have bends in the trunks, so getting them perfectly plumb will be impossible.

When you plant a palm tree, the soil should be loose and sandy. While this is good for the tree itself, this makes it unsteady while it is establishing itself. Once established, the tree will withstand hurricane force winds—but before that, a slight breeze can topple it.

Step 2 - Wrap in Burlap

Wrap the trunk of the tree with 16-inch wide strips of burlap. This heavy material will help to protect the tree from the wood braces. As the tree shifts and grows, the support can dig into the trunk system, causing wounds. The burlap keeps that from happening. Wrap at least 2 layers of the burlap about ¼ of the way up the trunk and tie it to the tree with rope.

Do not nail, staple or screw the burlap into the tree. The plant will use a lot of its energy and nutrients to establish its root system, and any wounds and gouges can be fatal for the tree.

Step 3 - Drive Stakes

At an equal distance around the tree, drive in 2x4 stakes about 5 feet away. These should be at least 3 to 4 feet deep to withstand the pressure coming from the braces.

Step 4 - Attach Wooden Posts

Lay posts from the burlap on the tree to the wooden stakes. Nail them to the side of the stakes, but tie them to the trunk of the tree with wire ties. Wrap the wire around the brace and the trunk and tighten.

TIP: Susan advises, "Bracing boards should be positioned on a 45 degree angle from the palm to the stakes."

Step 5 - Water and Watch

After you have braced the palm tree securely, water it regularly to help the roots grow and establish in the soil. Once you see that the tree is no longer shifting, you can remove the braces one at a time.

TIP: Susan cautions you, "Leaving a brace on a palm for more than one year may cause damage."