LANDSCAPING: That'll Cost a Lot of Coconuts

That'll Cost a Lot of Coconuts

When they close up shop at night, many Southern California landscapers have to lock up their most valuable merchandise: palm trees. The plants, essential for any chic Southwestern edifice, are in such demand that nurseries are unable to keep them in stock. A prize specimen of Phoenix reclinata, which grows only a foot a year, now retails for $25,000. The new Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas spent a seven-figure sum to install 200 palms averaging 40 ft. each.

Landscapers are replenishing their supply by buying mature trees from homeowners. The most sought-after palms were planted in the 1940s, when Los Angeles...