Lawn Maintenance Scam in Florida Communities

Palms Against Sunset - mlm

We believe we live in paradise, but we know residents of retirement communities are frequent targets of scam artists. While we are all perceived as easy targets, our eldest residents are seen as the easiest. The Villages, FL, is no different and, with a population of over 100,000, there are lots of targets for those guys. I recently learned of a new scam – at least, it is new to me. It has to do with lawn maintenance workers and palms. As palms age, they are telling people that their palms are not planted deeply enough, and offering to replant them — for a fee, of course.


My cousin lives a few miles north of me, in one of the older neighborhoods. After reading this blog post, she told me there are also guys going door-to-door telling folks their shrubbery needs replacing. I suspect that, in reality, all it needs is a little TLC.

Missing Boots

Sylvester - lost boots - mlm

This palm lives on Odell Circle.

There are some types of palms that keep their boots* but, with age, may lose the lowest two or three rows of boots as shown in this photo. They will eventually will sprout aerial roots near the bottom of the trunk. Sylvester palms, and date palms (in the same family) do this. There may be others, but I have yet to learn of any.



Aerial Roots 2 - mlm

This palm also lives on Odell Circle, about a block from the one in the previous photo.

Aerial Roots

Aerial roots on palms, as shown in this photo, are nothing to be concerned about. They are simply a sign of an aging palm. Some people don’t like the appearance of these aerial roots, but it’s just what some palms do. If you really don’t like it, buy a different palm, or let wild Boston Fern cover the trunk of your palm.


The Scam

The scam is that these guys will knock on your door, and say something like, “Hey, your landscaper didn’t plant your palm deep enough, and it could die. Let me/us dig it up and plant it deeper for you”. They do this, take your money, and leave. Later, your palm suffers and dies from being planted too deeply. Remember, they have very, very shallow roots, and the subterranean roots need to remain near the surface. This scam targets anyone who has moved here from an area where there are no palms.

Of course, the oldest palms are in the northern-most parts of our community, but communities and villages north of Hwy. 466-A already have some aging palms. My photos were taken June 19, 2015, on Odell Circle, just west of Morse Blvd. Aerial roots can also be seen on the huge Date Palms planted around the square at Lake Sumter Landing.

A Much Older Florida Scam:

Another, much older scam around here:  rocks as mulch. This scam is targeted at people who move here from areas outside the Deep South, but that’s another story for another day. Before buying them, please talk to any Florida master gardener.


*What are Boots?

Boots - mlm

This Washingtonian is one of a group of palms that are said to be “armed”, with sharp points.

After removal of old leaves from a palm, a stump, for lack of a better word, is left behind, clinging to the trunk of the palm. This called a boot. Here are some photos of boots. You will notice that one is “armed” with sharp points, and one is not.


Cabbage Palm - Boots - mlm

The Cabbage Palm is one of a group called “unarmed”, as it has no sharp, prickly points.

These two palms, the Washingtonian (above) and the Cabbage (right), are among the few that have skirts as well as boots. The oldest part of aging skirts will fall off or be removed by wind. The boots, too, will eventually fall of on their own, or be taken off in high winds, leaving behind a smoother, but striated trunk..

4 responses to “Lawn Maintenance Scam in Florida Communities

  1. When we moved to California, we lived with palms for the first time. I’ve often wondered about the boots and skirts, not knowing what they were called, and why some palms had more than others and how parts of the trunks came to be more nude.

    Thank you for once more enlightening me. I hope your post saves a few unsuspecting “marks” from getting taken.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, KG. I hope so, too. Would you believe, my cousin, who lives about 6 or 8 miles north of me, read this post & told me there are guys in her neighborhood going around telling people their shrubbery needs replacing? I think I will add that to the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always lived with palms in California. So far I’ve not heard of anyone running this scam here.

    Liked by 1 person

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