Tree planting

Trees growing too close to power lines can cause sparks, fires, power outages and shock hazards. To avoid these problems, property owners need to make good choices when planting, and utility companies need to trim trees regularly.

Site and tree selection

A tree properly placed today can avoid problems tomorrow – especially where power lines are concerned. Here are some safety and energy-saving tips for planting.

Consider Safety:

  • Placement diagram
      side view
      Side view Top view
    Plant trees that won’t interfere with power lines when fully grown. Small ornamental trees or shrubs that will not exceed 15 feet in height such as serviceberry, dogwood and low-growing evergreens are best to plant around power lines. Trees such as maple, basswood, burr oak, white pine or spruce grow more than 40 feet high and should be planted more than 50 feet from any overhead power lines.
  • Call the utility locator service three days ahead of any planting to check the location of underground services. This service is free.

Consider Energy Savings:

  • To reduce cooling costs, plant deciduous trees such as maples, lindens, hackberry or thornless honey locust about 15 feet to the south, southwest or west side of buildings to provide shade from summer sun.
  • To reduce heating costs, plant evergreens and shrubs on the north and west sides of buildings to block the wind. Plantings around the foundation also can help insulate against cold weather.

Planting trees in the right places can reduce your annual energy costs as much as 30 percent.

Clearances for underground service equipment

Newer developments typically have underground electric service coming from a green transformer box. If you want to surround the box with a fence or shrubs, you must maintain safe and easy access for our maintenance work. To help us avoid removing or damaging your landscaping, make sure you have a clearance of 3 feet on each side of our equipment and 10 feet to the front (where the lock is located).

Additional resources for tree selection and planting

National Arbor Day Foundation's Right Tree in Right Place
We Energies Planting Trees Brochure (PDF 816k)
Landscape Plants of the Upper Midwest Interactive Guide
University of Wisconsin Extension Power Planting Guide (PDF 816kk)
Wisconsin Nursery Association Plants of the Year (PDF 721k)