Trimming & cutting down some Sabal Palm trees

jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)August 5, 2010

I have eight ( 8 ) Sabal Palm trees on my property that are all overflowing with flowers that need to be cut off,..some almost reaching the ground. I also want to cut down one tree altogether. Was going to hire a tree guy who would trim them for $20 per and cut down the one for $150. However, a neighbor, ( a 65 yr old lady ), said I should trim and cut down the one I want to be rid of, myself, as she does on her property.

These trees are all 15 - 22 feet tall and about 11 inches in diameter.

Question : Is this a worthwhile project to take on myself ? I am a healthy 65 yo who has used chain saws in the past.

What tools would I need ? ( Have none now ) My neighbor has just about convinced me the cost of the required tools will be made up for in two years of pruning costs by a pro.

I am retired, so have the time. Have always been a do-it-yourselfer, am leaning towrd taking her advise.

Any opinions out there ? Chain saw sizes ? Makes ? Types of ladder, etc needed ?

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babalu_aye(zone 9b - St Pete FL)

Other things to consider are how much are your time and effort worth, and how would you dispose of the tree and fronds once they're down. Since you're retired, the time itself may not be an issue, but the heat and humidity are something you might want to factor in.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 9:53PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Waste Management takes all my neighbors tree refuse. She saws & chops it all up into small lengths, ( in early AM ), then neatly deposits it all in a couple of garbage cans at the curb. If there's more than two bins at one time she simply holds back some and spreads it out over 1, 2 or even 3 weeks. Waste removal should not be a problem. Will be looking at some chain saws today at Home Depot,..just looking tho. ( smile )

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 6:24AM
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chloe92us(10A Sarasota area)

If it were me, I would purchase a nice set of loppers and trim the trees myself, but pay someone to do the chainsaw work. Have them take down the tree; their price probably includes disposal as well. I have seen too many bad accidents with chainsaws to risk it myself if I didn't know what I was doing. Good luck!

PS/ You may want to leave the flowers/seeds on the trees for a while longer---the animals (birds, wasps, bees, etc) LOVE to eat them! Once it cools off a little, then you can get out there and do your thing.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 7:22AM
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Sabal palmetto are very heavy--100 lbs or much more for every foot of trunk.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:36AM
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Taking down a mature palm tree is not a one-man job. Even if you have experience with chain saws, especially if you have some experience with chain saws, you should know that. $20 to trim and $150 to remove is a very fair price and unless you are financially challenged, I would grab a checkbook and start writing.

And chloe - anyone who recommends letting 8 Sabals on one property go to seed so the animals can feed and then poop out little palm trees in all the places you don't want them is either a sadistic jester or the master of all lunatics.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 8:50AM
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I have a pole electric chain-saw, from HD, and my son does all the tree-trimming with it.... it cost abt. $120. and is well-worth it.... he doesn't cut anything hanging over the house, but I do have lots of other stuff.... I had to hire a tree-service to cut what was hanging over the house and it was not cheap.... so if you are handy and able, it is worth your while to get a electric pole-saw and have a go at it...and use heavy-duty electric-cords....... they extend out abt. 15 feet and have extensions, so your hands are well-away from tne cutting-edge..... my son has cut some pretty big stuff with it, he just works away slowly and doesn't 'push' the saw and finally gets it down, you have to put oil in the little cup and keep the chain clean, I wouldn't be without it...........sally

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 12:02PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Thanks to all for the informative responses.

Fawnridge : With all respect, you seem to be over reacting a bit. Whether a person is hurting financially has nothing to do with it. It's the satisfaction of being independent. On my previous homesite, I saw a tree guy cut down two ( 2 ) Sabal Palms in less than an hour, himself alone. Then another half hour to chop it all up into small chunks for the Waste Management guys to pick up.

Hey, the 8 ' ladder up against the tree will only hold one person, right ? Tying the rope off at both ends only takes one person. Then cutting out the sections to get it falling right only takes one person. What will the 2nd person be doing ? Taking photos ? LOL

Besides, my take-charge lady neighbor just informed me with a laugh,.." of course it's a one person job ! "

Bill & Chloe : Good info, ..have decided to purchase a new 15 ft telescoping Ryobi chain saw from HD tomorrow. That will get me started by pruning the 7 trees. Will play it by ear after that,..may get that Echo 16 inch chain saw if the smaller one doesn't cut the slightly bigger tree down. I am a vet so get a 10 % discount at HD,..nice. In no hurry, realize the weight, but this should be a no-brainer as long as I am careful.

Sally : Nice to have a handy son, right ? The tree I will cut down is isolated, nowhere near a home. Am psyched about this project,..thanks so much for your input as well as everyone elses.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 6:09PM
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stuartwanda(N. Stuart)

Go for it if you feel comfident! Your next door lady will tell you how, good neighbors are hard to find!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 6:24PM
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My post wasn't clear. I meant to say a cabbage palm typically weighs 100lb (or much more) for every foot of its HEIGHT. In other words, a twenty foot palm tree is going to weigh at least one ton. Or, to put it another way, even if you cut it into fairly small sections, each section will weigh close to a hundred pounds. This is dangerous work!

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 8:37AM
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The very term "telescoping chainsaw" scares the crap out of me, but you seem confident so good luck to you.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 9:39AM
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If you posted in the "Tool Shed" section you would have found enthusiastic response! I'm one of those guys that loves to do it all myself. I have the chainsaws and even a chipper to turn it all into compost.

For a chainsaw I think you are on the right track. Consider the Echo CS-370 with the 16" bar. You could get by with a 14" bar with this little cabbage palm but you will be glad to have the extra length on other projects that will come along.

I also have a gas pole saw with extensions and a 12" bar. It isn't telescopic. I just add or remove a section as needed. Wonderful tool. I keep my neighbors properties and my own pruned and tend to do it at the onset of Hurricane season. I never charge them but I seem to get a lot of cold beer from them.

For this tree, I would drop it whole to the ground since you mentioned that you have plenty of room. Buck it after you drop it. Be sure to keep your chain out of the sand as it will dull it instantly on contact. Palm wood is hard on chains to begin with. It is stringy stuff and actually has sand in it. It would be advisable to purchase an extra chain and a sharpening file so you can touch up the chain between tanks of fuel.

One thing to add here is that there is more to buy then just the saws. You should be wearing chainsaw chaps, steel toe boots, and eye and ear protection. I have a forestry hat that takes care of the eye and ear protection and use it for lots of other chores like running the chipper and even weed wacking. The great thing about the forestry helmet is that the eye screen and ear muffs can be pivoted up between cuts.

Have fun with the job and be safe.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 10:38AM
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For God's sake, you're 65 not 35. If you have the money hire someone. My boss tried doing it himself and he's 40, fell off a ladder and went to the hospital in a coma. A patient of my wife did it himself too, fell off the ladder and never walked again. If you really want to do it right, hire a licensed company with workers' comp insurance. The pole saws are nice if you want to make the investment and do the trimming going forward, IF the trees aren't too tall. I wouldn't suggest taking the one down though....the stump removal itself will be impossible without the right equipment.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:54AM
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suddensam(10 Boynton Beach)

Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. Good luck sir.
Plant em if you got em.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:42PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

An update on my Sabal Palm removal/pruning :

Capturbbo : Thanks so much for your encouraging info. I did indeed purchase the Homelite pole saw with a 10 " bar, and also a 341 CS Echo 14 " chain saw. Already had the protective gear.

Yesterday I felled the one 14 ' Sabal Palm I wanted to eliminate. Dropped it whole, and then cut it up. The root system is a joke, need to do anything but cut it flush with the ground.
This morning I took my new pole saw and trimmed a 15 ' Sabal Palm, and put the entire debri into the back of my Ford pickup. Tomorrow will deposit it all into the dump behind the Englewood Home Depot, ( free of charge of course ).

It was a breeze, as you said. Am so glad I took this route. Am planning to cut down one Sabal Palm each year for the next 3 years, then will be where I want to be, - with half the trees I have now and just 4 short palms to prune myself each year. Even a caveman could do it ! LOL

The cost saving will not materialize until next year, but being a do-it-your-selfer is what makes my day. You know what I am talking about.

Thanks again for your input, - an easy and economical way to go for sure !.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:05PM
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chloe92us(10A Sarasota area)

Good for you! I'm in Englewood too!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 5:07PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

Hi Chloe, Would enjoy showing you my handiwork sometime. My cell # is : 830 - 3566 and of course, would help you with any minor palm trimming you had. Happy to help out a neighbor.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2010 at 6:34PM
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Best thing to do with the others (since you already cut 1 down) is to call a palm dealer and they will usually remove it for free and give it a good home. I know a guy who digs them for free all the time.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 5:19PM
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Who's the guy that removes them and gives them new home? I have one I want to remove in WPB... a small one...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 12:09PM
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Hi Jofus. Sorry for not getting back to this thread in so long. I sure am proud of you for tackling it yourself in spite of all the nay saying and gloom-n-doomers! Way to go pal!

You have a few years on me (I'm 50) so all the more credit to you. Feels good to do things yourself huh?

I have a large solar array on my metal roof and my older neighbors always hold their breath when I'm up there washing them. I figure that if I paid to have that done I might as well buy the power from the utility like everyone else right?

One note to you about your saws: This lousy ethanol fuel that "big brother" forces us to use will dissolve the fuel lines in your equipment. When you're done with your tasks, drain the tanks and run the engines until they burn the last bit of fuel out of them. This will prolong the period of time it takes before you need to replace those lines. Oh and by the way, you can replace the lines yourself too!

Best of luck to you. CaptTurbo.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2010 at 9:05PM
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jofus(9b/10a Englewood, Fl)

CaptTurbo : Thanks for the follow up. Yes, it is indeed surprising how many nervous, wimpy and pessimistic people there are out there. Just because I am 65 means nothing really. Age is just a number. Am blessed with good health, genes and the beneficiary of an active lifestyle, exercising regularly. Have since cut down a second 18 foot palm tree with no problems at all.
If I worried about the many people who had bad accidents, I wouldn't drive a car or swim at the beach.
I will take your advise about draining the fuel from the chain saw when I put it up for the winter.
I hope this discourse helps other gardeners to " go for it ", rather than listen to the worry warts. If Columbus felt the way they do,...( smile )
It's not a matter of finances at all, as you know. Just the satisfaction of doing a job that requires some thought and minimal physical dexterity. Being self sufficient.
Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 7:52PM
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