What You Should Know About Trees and Utility Lines

September 11, 2017

We sometimes forget about them, but utility lines play a key part in where we plant our trees. Take a look outside for a moment. Those overhead lines can be electric, telephone, or television. Meanwhile, underground lines consist of these, in addition to water, sewer, and natural gas. Keep in mind that the location of these lines should have a direct impact on your planting site selection. Not to mention, there should be plenty of available overhead growing space. In this blog post, we will dive into utility lines, as well as the proper places for trees in your yard.


We see overhead lines on a daily basis and yet still tend to overlook them with regard to trees. It’s important to know that planting tall growing trees near these lines will require a good deal of maintenance, such as trimming and pruning. However, as we’ve mentioned in previous posts, recurring tree care is not recommended, as the constant removal of limbs and branches shortens the life of many trees. More tree care professionals are finding that trees pruned away from power lines are under greater stress, and therefore, more susceptible to insects and disease. Plus, larger trees that are in close proximity to overhead lines can cause service interruptions when trees contact wires. By being thoughtful with your selection and placement of trees, you can eliminate any sort of public safety hazard, reduce utility costs, and improve the overall appearance of your landscaping.


As explained in this guide from Sumter EMC, the majority of utility services provided today run below the ground. Be aware that trees planted near underground lines could have roots damaged should the lines need to be dug up for major repairs. That said, the damage you should be most concerned about occurs during planting. Watch out for any underground utilities before you begin to plant. Our tree company recommends that homeowners play it safe and call the local utility company to be certain you don’t accidentally dig into any lines. For your sake, don’t assume that underground utility lines are buried deeper than you plan to dig.  


Below are some tips for planting trees safely away from utility lines:

Taller Trees

For trees that grow 60 feet or taller, be sure to plant at least 35 feet away from the house. This allows plenty of space for root development and to minimize potential damage to structures. In places where there are no overhead restrictions (parks, meadows, etc.), taller trees make a great choice.

Medium-sized Trees

Let’s say that you love trees but just don’t have space for an overly big one. Medium-sized trees grow no taller than 40 feet and can be easily complemented with the right bushes and shrubs.

Shorter Trees

In cases where you have little room to work with, it’s important to not plant a tree that’s expected to grow taller than 20 feet. Unfortunately, the growing space in “low zones” is extremely limited. As mentioned in the guide, these trees are best for narrow planting areas, circles surrounded by concrete, planting squares, or large raised planting containers where underground space roots won’t support larger trees.     


If you’ve made the mistake of planting a tree that’s getting dangerously close to utility lines, it’s time to get in touch with a professional. In some cases, the solution could be something as simple as trimming some branches. Keep in mind, though, that pruning and trimming require plenty of skill and experience. Not to mention, there are specialized tools that must be used to get the job done properly.

On the other hand, there are also situations where tree removal is the only option for keeping you, your family, and your home protected. From stump removal to large tree removal, Pro Tree Service has been there and done that. We regularly remind homeowners that removing trees is a serious task that carries the risk of damage. That’s why it’s critical to leave these projects in the hands of a professional.

Since 1989, Pro Tree Service has been committed to providing the best tree services to those in Chicago. Unlike other tree care companies in the area, we guarantee that we will match or beat any reasonable, written estimate by 10 percent. Not only that, but you can expect only the highest quality of work. Customers appreciate that we are fully licensed, bonded, and insured to perform general tree care, land clearing, and tree removal services. If you’re looking for a company that’s experienced, affordable, and reliable, turn to Pro Tree. We will evaluate the situation with your tree, provide our recommendations, and communicate with you during each step of the process.

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