There are many palm trees that have the word 'date' in their name but only the Phoenix dactylifera is the true date palm, producing the delicious fruit it is named for. Phoenix dactylifera can grow to 100 feet with fronds that are 18 to 20 feet long. As with all palms, once the date palm has matured, every new frond will mean an older frond dies. Trimming or pruning your date palm too severely or improperly may result in increased pests and disease, slower growth and possibly death of your date palm.
Once A Year
Trim your date palm of dead, brown fronds no more than once a year. This should be done in late spring. You may wish to trim off any brown or yellow tips on the fronds at this time.
Use an A-frame style ladder, not an extension ladder, to trim off dead fronds if your date palm is not too tall. An A-frame style ladder helps you avoid damaging or injuring the trunk of your date palm. Leaning a ladder against your date palm trunk could damage it permanently or leave open scars that invite decay causing organisms. If your date palm is quite tall and a ladder will not reach the dead fronds, you may need to rent a lift bucket (hydraulic lift) from your local equipment rental yard.
Carefully cut the dead frond from your date palm using sharp, clean pruners or a pruning saw. To avoid infecting your date palm, clean the pruners or saw with a 50-50 solution of bleach and water.
Make your first cut on the outer side of the frond, above the spiky bits. This should drop the frond. The second cut should remove the petiole stub with the spiky bits. The spiky bits and petiole stub are extremely sharp, and heavy gloves and great care should be taken to avoid any injuries.