Planting Around Power Lines
Landscaping and tree planting can enhance the beauty and enjoyment of your property. With the increasing popularity of the "outdoor living room," the right landscaping is especially important for creating the right look and ambiance for that outdoor living and entertaining space.
Done right, landscaping can also offer cost-savings by increasing your home’s energy efficiency. (Think about the cooling affect of shade trees.) However, it’s important to consider the proper placement of trees and shrubs.
The small shrubs and trees you plant today could eventually grow into large ones that interfere with overhead or underground power lines. Digging for deck posts, a pond or a pool can cut into utility lines.
- Avoid planting trees under power lines. The small tree you plant today could eventually grow big enough to interfere with the overhead power lines, creating a safety hazard for our maintenance crews and for the children who climb them. The limbs could also break off and become entangled in the power lines causing serious problems. They are a frequent cause of power outages.
- You can’t hide power lines and poles, but you can strategically plant vegetation to draw your eyes away from existing power poles. Try planting trees that have a spreading crown to diffuse the vertical view.
- Strategically plant trees in your yard to block the view of existing power poles. Keep in mind that you must allow for an appropriate clearance. For example, trees that have a spreading crown might be planted 20 feet from the pole and lines and block the view of the electric facilities while not posing a hazard.
- Plant lower-growing trees or shrubs near the base of poles, but no closer than 10 feet.
- Do not plant trees that grow tall near power lines or poles. Tall trees grow into lines and may present other safety risks. When trimmed or removed, poles will be exposed again.
- Do not plant vines that will grow up utility poles. Vines on poles may pose a threat to utility workers when climbing poles.
Planting Around Ground Equipment
- Meters and transformers aren't the most attractive elements in your yard but serve an important purpose. For your safety and your family's, avoid landscaping around this equipment so it remains accessible. (If landscaping is placed too close to the transformer, service restoration efforts can be delayed. In addition, workers must sometimes cut down plantings to perform restoration work.)
- Keep shrubs and structures at least 12 feet from the door of the pad-mount transformer (typically a large green metal box) and at least four feet from the other sides.
- Keep all landscaping trimmed to allow visibility to your electric and gas meters. These meters require one foot of clearance on each side.
- Keep shrubs and structures at least 10 feet from the underground wire itself.
- Do not plant vines or thorny bushes around utility equipment, and keep any type of plant neatly pruned.
Selecting the Proper Trees
- Tree shape and height are important when planting near power lines. Select power line-friendly trees that grow to a mature height of 25 feet or less. Consult the South Carolina tree selection guide for safe tree selections or visit your local nursery.
- Generally, large trees with mature heights of greater than 50 feet should be planted at least 40 feet from power lines and 35 feet from your house. Medium trees ranging from 25 to 50 feet in height should be kept approximately 30 feet from power lines and 25 feet from your house.
- Do not plant large- or medium-size trees under power lines. A storm or even just a stiff wind could easily disrupt your electrical service and the entire neighborhood’s. It doesn’t have to be an extended outage to cause problems; branches rubbing on power lines can cause blinks and surges that can damage sensitive electronic equipment inside your home.
- No trees should be planted under your service line, which is the small line running directly from the pole to your house.
- Make sure trees have sufficient room to grow, above and below ground. For example, consider the location of driveways, walkways, sewer and water lines or septic systems to prevent them from being damaged by tree roots.
- Consult a landscaper or nursery operator about the growth characteristics of particular tree species.
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