Why are the palm trees still tied up at the airport after 4 months?

Matthew Alice:

I noticed this back in December and was startled to see it was still going on [in April]. The palm trees that were planted in ridiculously large numbers at the airport have all their fronds trimmed very short and tied to the trunks of the trees. I suppose this is the easiest way to transport palm trees, but why are the poor things still tied up months later? Did the city get a good deal on mischievous palm trees that must be tied up to prevent them from running amok? Or could this possibly be good for the trees?

-- Barbara, Pacific Beach

Palms in bondage, eh? Wise plant management or kinky landscaper fetish? Horticultural necessity or bad planning? Levered the 30-footers into place, then realized too late they were still trussed up like Christmas turkeys? To the rescue come the country agriculture department's Master Gardeners, just a phone call away for all our greenery questions. Newly planted palms, particularly of the tall, skinny variety, are tied up for their own good. And the trimmed fronds aren't tied around the trunk, they're wrapped around the new, tender fronds growing out of the center of the palm's crown. The thing you want to do when you transplant a tree is reestablish a good root system. Trussing slows top growth while the roots are recovering, lowers the tree's profile to the wind until the roots are strong enough to hold it, and reduces water loss through the fronds. The Lindbergh palms were freed sometime in April, though some particularly boisterous trees can be confined for up to a year.

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