Doug Coomes, The Palm Company
395 Sunset Drive, Encinitas
Doug Coomes can truck an 80-foot-tall, 80-year-old Canary Island date palm to your place for maybe $500 or $600, depending on how far he has to carry it on his long, wide-load semi. Of course, that particular tree might set you back $8000-$10,000 in the first place. Coomes's edge: he's had the experience. "We've been at this 30 years," he says. "In 1989-'90, we did the biggest palm job ever done in history. That was for the Mirage in Las Vegas. It was $5 million worth of trees, 1300 of them." He says he's developed techniques that "negate the shock" most transplanted palm trees suffer. "The industry standard used to be 30 percent loss. With us it's a half percent. It's like being a surgeon. You've got to prepare the patient, fill him up with water and food, make sure he's happy before you start the operation. We guarantee our transplanted palms for two years." And don't forget, says Coomes, a palm is not a tree. "It's a giant grass from the dinosaur age."