Choosing the Right Tree

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Choosing the Right Tree

To truly eliminate conflicts between trees and overhead lines, you must select and plant only trees whose mature height and spread will not interfere with nearby lines.  Choosing the right tree and the best place to plant it, will help provide beautiful healthy and safe trees that need little maintenance.  Good tree selection should accommodate site use and safety needs.  In addition, properly located trees will increase property value.  The care taken to plant the right tree in the right place is an investment in the future.

Consider the following site factors before selecting and planting trees: 

  • Location of buildings, sidewalks, and streets
  • Size of planting space
  • Location of existing trees and plants
  • Current and future uses of the site
  • Location of overhead and underground utility lines, including pad-mount transformers and streetlights

Overhead Lines: Avoid planting trees directly under power lines.  If the location is within 30 feet of power lines, choose trees that will grow no higher than 25 feet at maturity. 

Call Before You Dig, 811

Underground Utilities:  Trees and shrubs planted over underground utilities may be damaged or completely removed if utility lines must be dug up for service. Roots, trees, and plants can also cause problems as they grow.  Before you dig, call 811. 

Electrical Equipment:  Pad-mounted transformers, switch cabinets, or tops of underground vaults need to be kept free of obstruction in service accessibility and for air circulation to prevent equipment failure.  During power outages crews often find fences, shrubs and trees that have been placed or planted in front of electrical equipment.  Removing these obstacles takes time and delays restoring power. Sufficient growing room is needed around plants so the outside edges of mature plants will be a minimum of 2 feet from the sides of the equipment. Plants at mature growth should be at least 10 feet from the door side(s) of the electrical equipment. 

Utility Friendly Trees - (maximum height of 25 feet)

  • Eastern Redbud Cercis Canadensis
  • Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida
  • Star Magnolia Magnolia Stellata
  • Flowering Cherry Prunus spp.
  • Flowering Plum Prunus spp.
  • Rocky Mountain Juniper Junperus scopulorum
  • Bristlecone Pine Punus aristata
  • Globe Norway Maple Acer platanoides 'Globosum'
  • Amur Maple Acer ginnala
  • Paperbark Maple Acer griseum
  • Serviceberry Armelanchier grandiflora

Trees to avoid planting - (consistent limb loss in storms, excessive level of growth, history of breaking pavement, spreading by suckers, and excess or messy seed or fruit drop)

  • Cottonwoods & Poplars, Populus Species
  • Weeping Willow, Salix Species
  • Australian Willow
  • Silver Maple, Acer Saccharinum
  • American Sycamore, Platanus Occidentalis
  • Trees of Heaven, Ailanthus Altissima
  • Russian Olive, Elaeangnus Angustifolia
  • Black Locust, Robinia Pseudoacacia
  • Elms, Ulmus Species