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The Latest Luxury Home Calling Card? A Trophy Tree

For many upscale homeowners, a magnificent tree is the latest status symbol and type of art – and they’ll pay big money to have massive trees relocated.

NEW YORK – The “trophy tree” has become a new status symbol for wealthy homeowners, and landscape architects say upscale homeowners view a big tree as analogous to piece of artwork.

But luxury owners don’t want to wait for a magnificent tree, and they’re willing to pay big money to have one right away. As a result, they’re hiring tree brokers to find and relocate attractive trees onto their properties.

Walter Acree, owner of Green Integrity’s, a tree relocation and landscaping firm in Deerfield Beach, says business is booming since the pandemic started with requests for the perfect trophy tree. Acree will drive wealthy clients around South Florida for such a tree. They will scour areas for trees in other people’s yards or businesses, and then approach the owners with an offer to buy and move the tree. Acree recently gave a client an estimate of $250,000 to move a tree.

Other landscape architects also report a surge in business.

“It’s the busiest the business has ever been, and we’re doing things at a scale that is just remarkable,” says Tim Johnson, a partner at Fernando Wong Outdoor Living Design in Miami. Bidding wars over trees can ignite, such as one Johnson faced over 45-foot canopied oak trees.

Buying and relocating a tree can range in price from tens of thousands of dollars to six figures, depending on the look of the tree and how accessible it is, landscape architects told The Wall Street Journal. They say it requires great caution to move older, stately trees to ensure no harm is done.

Michael Chen, a Los Angeles real estate developer, says it took him a year and a half to find a tree for his $65 million spec house in Beverly Hills. It’s a large 150-year-old, 15-foot olive tree that was imported from Tuscany. He didn’t plant it outside, though – it’s in the middle of the home in an encased glass courtyard.

Source: “The Newest Status Symbol for High-Net Worth Homeowners: Trophy Trees,” The Wall Street Journal (April 22, 2021)

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