Right Tree, Right Place
While trees and shrubs can help save energy and beautify your property, they don't always go well with power lines. However, with proper planning, many of the potential problems can be avoided so that you can enjoy energy-saving trees along with safe, reliable electric service.
Planting Below the Power Line
Choose short trees that will not reach the lines when they grow to maturity. The distance between the ground and the power line will vary, depending on the height at which lines are attached to poles and the degree to which they sag. A good rule of thumb is to select trees whose mature height is less than 20 feet.
Planting Beside the Power Line
Choose medium sized trees, 25-35 feet tall. Plant these trees at a distance away from the power line at least equal to their maximum crown radius (half the width of the tree at its widest point). If you must use taller trees, select a species that has an upright branching habit and a narrow crown. These larger trees should be planted at a distance away from power lines which is greater than the maximum crown radius. Avoid trees with weak wood, such as poplars and willows, because their limbs break easily during storms.
Planting Around Pad-Mounted Transformers
If you have a three-foot square green metal box in your yard, your instinct may be to conceal it with shrubbery. That could be a mistake. This box, called a pad-mounted transformer, contains important electrical equipment that supplies your neighborhood with underground electric service.