Bay Area Corporate Landscapers Vie For Scarce Trees

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — After years of drought, landscaping is making a comeback in the Bay Area.

One big project in the works: a fancy rooftop park at San Francisco’s new Transbay Transit Center.

But KPIX has learned that there’s a fierce tug-of-war going on over the trees.

Apple is also in the market for some trees.

Landscape trees at the Western Star Nurseries in Sunol are beautiful, in bloom and ready for planting.

And many of these have already been reserved for large Bay Area construction projects.

But competition for these prime specimens has become so heated that the nurseries have to red-tag them to make sure rival contractors can’t swoop in and take them red-handed.

Renee Nylen with Western Star Nurseries said, “It’s pretty fierce, it’s pretty cut throat.”

Nylen is talking about the tree wars that have driven prices into the tree tops.

“Someone comes in and overbids the other guy, taking it out from underneath them. It really is a cut throat industry at this point,” Nylen said.

And the Apple spaceship campus project is a big reason why.

Apple reportedly needs 3,000 trees to fill in its inner circle. Many of them hard to find native species.

At the same time, the new Transbay Transit Park project in San Francisco put out an order for 469 trees.

The two projects are reportedly battling for branches all the way to Fresno.

“Several years ago, a lot of the nurseries were forced to downsize because of the economy. Then all of a sudden demand started to come back and with the upswing, people are scrambling to find plant material, which is non-existent at this point,” Nylen said.

The other problem is the time it takes to grow trees. Landscapers want to buy them large enough to provide shade immediately, which can take years to grow.

“It’s something I find kind of exciting. It keeps us busy, keeps us on our toes,” Nylen said.

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