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I am considering adding several Windmill Palms to our pool area. However, we have a very small back yard and minimal spacing within which to place these trees. I know that palm roots are not woody and are therefor less likely to damage sidewalk or driveway, but that there are still limits to this freedom.

What is the minimum recommended safe distance from the center of a Windmill Palm to the start of a driveway or sidewalk?

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From the point of view of retaining the integrity of any hard surfacing, as close as 3 feet should be fine. However, it would be better to make the distance more if you can because of the arching nature and length of the palm branches, which will extend up to 5 or 6 feet out from the trunk. Assuming you mean Trachycarpus fortunei when you say windmill palm, the stems on the leaves are toothed, and are not comfortable to bump into or scrape against when passing even when you're fully dressed, as I know to my cost.

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  • Thank you so much. We have a small open area and I believe I can plan the tree centered approximately 2.5 feet from a curved walkway. This would place it almost up against a vinyl fence but I've read the trunk doesn't expand outward so I assume we will be fine there. The driveway is approximately 2.5 feet beyond the fence. Do you think we are risking structural integrity of the walk way or driveway in this case? And yes, it is Trachycarpus fortunei – Nicholas Feb 6 '17 at 18:27
  • I don't agree the trunk doesn't expand outwards - usually, in its earlier years, it spends time putting on girth at the base of the plant. One in a garden I tend, now 25 years old, is probably 2 feet thick at the base, thinner higher up, but you wouldn't know that because dead parts cling on Trachycarpus. It is adjacent to paving, at the girth it is now, its less than a foot away, but with no apparent problems to the hard surfacing. I still wouldn't like to push my way past one on a pathway though, if it meant fighting with the leaves and stems. – Bamboo Feb 6 '17 at 19:01
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    sorry, forgot the link I found re growth and girth... I think it'll be fine though, if a little tight, so long as no one hurts themselves on the leaves and stems gardenriots.com/2015/01/21/… – Bamboo Feb 6 '17 at 19:09

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