Drive down any city street and you will see trees hacked in unnatural looking V-shapes around power lines. The average state spends about $30 million a year trimming trees away from power lines and in utility easements. Tree branches 25 to 45 feet (8-14 m.) high are usually in the trimming zone. It can be pretty upsetting when you go to work in the morning with a beautiful full tree canopy on your terrace, only to come home in the evening to find it hacked into an unnatural form. Continue reading to learn about planting trees beneath power lines.
Should You Be Planting Trees Around Power Lines?
As mentioned, 25 to 45 feet (8-14 m.) is usually the height utility companies trim tree branches to allow for power lines. If you are planting a new tree in an area beneath power lines, it is suggested that you select a tree or shrub that does not grow taller than 25 feet (8 m.).
Most city plots also have 3 to 4 feet (1 m.) wide utility easements on one or more sides of the plot line. While they are part of your property, these utility easements are intended for utility crews to have access to power lines or power boxes. You can plant in this utility easement, but the utility company can trim or remove these plants if they deem it necessary.
Planting near utility posts also has its rules.
- Trees that mature to a height of 20 feet (6 m.) or less should be planted at least 10 feet (3 m.) away from telephone or utility posts.
- Trees that grow 20 to 40 feet (6-12 m.) tall should be planted 25 to 35 feet (8-11 m.) away from telephone or utility posts.
- Anything taller than 40 feet (12 m.) should be planted 45 to 60 feet (14-18 m.) away from utility posts.
Trees beneath Power Lines
Despite all these rules and measurements, there are still many small trees or large shrubs that you can plant under power lines and around utility posts. Below are lists of large shrubs or small trees safe to plant under power lines.
- Amur Maple (Acer tataricum sp. ginnala)
- Apple Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)
- Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
- Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus)
- Dogwood (Cornus sp.) – includes Kousa, Cornelian Cherry, and Pagoda Dogwood
- Magnolia (Magnolia sp.) – Large-Flowered and Star Magnolia
- Japanese Tree Lilac (Syringa reticulata)
- Dwarf Crabapple (Malus sp.)
- American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
- Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
- Snow Fountain Cherry (Prunus snofozam)
- Hawthorn (Crataegus sp.) – Winter King Hawthorn, Washington Hawthorn, and Cockspur Hawthorn
Small or Dwarf Evergreens
- Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis)
- Dwarf Upright Juniper (Juniperus sp.)
- Dwarf Spruce (Picea sp.)
- Dwarf Pine (Pinus sp.)
Large Deciduous Shrubs
- Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
- Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
- Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus)
- Forsythia (Forsythia sp.)
- Lilac (Syringa sp.)
- Viburnum (Viburnum sp.)
- Weeping Pea shrub (Caragana arborescens ‘Pendula’)