Wealthy homeowners are chasing a new status symbol for their luxury homes. The idea of having “trophy tree” on one’s property has suddenly become very popular, and luxury homeowners are reaching out to tree brokers or Tree Service to find and relocate an attractive tree, rather than wait for years for one to grow.
Walter Acree, owner of Green Integrity’s, a tree relocation and landscaping firm in Deerfield Beach, Fla., told the Wall Street Journal that his business has been booming ever since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year. He said an increasing number of luxury homeowners are hunting for a “perfect tree” that could sit on their properties, and that he typically spends a great deal of time driving around with his clients in search of one.
He explained that, together with his client, he will scour South Florida for the perfect kind of tree that his client wants, and then approach whoever owns the property or business it’s growing on and offer to buy it from them. He said that in one of his recent deals, a client paid $250,000 to find and move a tree to his own home.
Landscape architects say that a big tree has for some people become analogous to piece of artwork, and is a must-have for their property. They will even hire crane rentals and tree services so the tree trimming can be done properly.
“It’s the busiest the business has ever been, and we’re doing things at a scale that is just remarkable,” said Tim Johnson, a partner at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design in Miami. He added that some trees have even been the subject of bidding wars as clients scrap to have them adorn their homes.
The process of buying and relocating a tree can be very expensive, with costs ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to several hundred thousand dollars, depending on the look and size of the tree, how accessible it is, and how much work will go into the operation. Landscape architects say they need to be very cautious, especially with older trees, to ensure no harm is done to them.
For some buyers though, the high price tag is not as much of a problem as actually finding the right kind oftree. Michael Chen, a Los Angeles real estate developer, told the Journal that it took over a year and half to find a suitable tree for his $65 million Beverly Hills mansion. Eventually he stumbled on a large, 150-year old 15-foot olive tree that was imported from Tuscany. He didn’t plant it inside the home though, but instead right in the middle of the home encased in a glass courtyard.