Having Palm Trees Around Your Pool Could Be a Bad Idea

palms around pool min

I live on a tropical island, and something I notice a lot in big houses and clubs where there are pools is that palm trees are often planted around and even in the middle of the pool.

I won’t deny it, those tall palms around the pool look beautiful, but in reality, having palm trees around a pool can be a very bad idea.

The reason why having palms around a pool is a bad idea is that palms can attract lightning, and in this case, I am referring to palms of considerable height.

When I say “attract lightning” it is not that there is some material in the palm that attracts lightning, it is simply that in places where vertical elements do not predominate, such as a patio or a swimming pool, lightning will always look for the most vertically protruding part.

This is why palm trees are frequently struck by lightning, because of their height, some palm trees can even reach 60 meters high, they are very tall trees that protrude from anything around them, and this condition is what makes them prone to attract lightning.

Lightning is attracted to vertical tall elements

A lightning bolt only looks for the fastest way to reach the earth, and it will do so through the highest element it can find that has contact with the earth.

A palm tree has all the characteristics to attract lightning, they are usually tall, isolated from other vertical elements, and occasionally have protruding tips at the top.

Lightning falling on a palm tree is a terrifying spectacle, and if the palm tree is around a swimming pool the danger is much greater because you know that electricity and water are a fatal combination.

And even if the wood is not capable of carrying electricity, the lightning can have ramifications that could reach the water, besides, the impact with the palm tree will cause damage and fires near your home.

palm tree
Sorry about the quality of the picture, lightning bolts don’t usually pose for photos.

Growing palm trees around swimming pools do carry some potential risk. Because of the way palm trees grow, it is possible for their roots to damage the pool and surrounding soil.

The root system of a palm tree is composed mainly of fibrous roots which grow close to the trunk and spread out on either side.

They are very difficult to remove because they have strong rootlets that send out small feeder roots at a distance of up to three meters or more outside the taproot, growing in all directions.

The thick layer of fibers makes them hard to kill without constant contact with herbicides like glyphosate or triclopyr ester.

How far down do palm tree roots go?

Palm trees differ from most other shrubs in that they have a very deep taproot, extending even six meters (20 feet) below the ground’s surface.

This allows them to grow at enormous distances and has led to some palms being observed growing along rivers and arid or semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia.

Can palm tree roots damage a pool?

Palm trees have a very shallow root system and do not usually cause any damage when growing around pools or swimming pools due to their fast growth rate.

Naturally, you should examine the soil around your pool area to see where the roots are growing and check for any cracks in the pool or the decking at any time.

Suppose you need to dig up your garden to move a palm tree. In that case, it is recommended that you first treat the palm tree with glyphosate herbicide or triclopyr ester herbicide and wait about two months before planting when there is no danger of pollination.

It’s crucial to remember that the roots of palms are not just an issue around swimming pools but also a problem when they are planted in a garden or used as an ornamental plant.

Suppose you need to dig up your garden to move a palm tree. In that case, it is recommended that you first treat the palm tree with glyphosate herbicide or triclopyr ester herbicide and wait about two months before planting when there is no danger of pollination.

Are palm trees messy?

Palm trees can be considered messy by some people due to the falling fronds (leaves) and seeds that they produce. The fronds of a palm tree can create a litter problem if they are not cleaned up regularly.

In addition, the seeds that palm trees produce can create a slipping hazard on the ground if they are not removed. However, not all palm trees are equally messy. Some species of palm trees are more prone to shedding their fronds and seeds than others.

Additionally, the location of the palm tree can affect how messy it is. For example, a palm tree that is planted near a pool or patio may be more of a mess than one that is planted in a less visible location.

Which palm plants are less messy?

There are some species of palm trees that are known to be less messy than others. Here are a few examples:

Areca palm (Dypsis lutescens) – This palm tree is known for its low maintenance and tidiness. It has thin, feathery fronds that do not shed as readily as some other palm species.

Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) – This small, indoor palm is another low-maintenance option. It has delicate fronds that do not shed excessively.

Kentia palm (Howea forsteriana) – This palm tree is known for its slow growth and tidy appearance. It has long, slender fronds that do not shed as readily as some other species.

Phoenix roebelenii (Dwarf date palm) – This small palm tree is another good choice for those looking for a low-maintenance, tidy plant. It has thin, graceful fronds that do not shed excessively.

Keep in mind that all plants, including palm trees, will shed their leaves to some extent. However, these species are generally considered to be less messy than some other types of palms.

Which small palm trees are ideal to have near a swimming pool? 

The fan-like leaves of the California Fan Palm make it a popular choice for those with limited garden space; being weather resistant and drought-tolerant, it is an excellent option for pools located in coastal areas throughout Australia.

If a pool is located in a garden with little water, growing in a California Fan will ensure enough water becomes available to keep the palm alive.

Other popular palm trees include Chamaerops and Washingtonia palms – both look like bonsai and are perfect for indoor use, and most importantly, they are less likely to be struck by lightning.

Which palm trees are appropriate to have around a swimming pool?

I don’t want to be a killjoy and just tell you that having palm trees around your pool can attract lightning, so what are the palm trees that might be ideal to have around a pool?

Palm trees can be an ideal choice for the garden and the pool. There are many palm tree varieties, mostly suitable for the Southern hemisphere.

Some excellent examples include:

• Canna – with spreading arching branches; it is often used as a hedge in bright sunny locations. It grows very high and has a shape that resembles a sequoia.

• Cocos – with long slender, graceful trunks and spreading leaves; ideal for growing up walls. It is usually grown as an ornamental plant and not for shade.

• Euterpe – it’s native to Australia and grows almost anywhere in the garden. It has thin, nearly leafless trunks with single leaves that look like bottle brushes.

• Fortunella – It is also popular in Australia but requires more sun than most palm trees. It naturally looks like an umbrella and is often used as an indoor ornamental plant.

• Winged varieties of these are also available: California Fan Palm, Washingtonia, Phoenix, and Chamaerops.


Palm trees are beautiful, but if you live in an area very prone to thunderstorms, and you want to have a palm tree in your backyard or near a pool, think twice, take into consideration everything exposed in this topic, and choose palm tree options that do not grow too much.

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