Trees planted today are an investment in the future. A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. However, selecting the wrong tree for a site can result in significant pruning or removal, and can cause serious electric service interruptions in the future. Check with a Maryland Licensed Professional Forester, or a Certified Arborist to better understand a specific tree's maximum height and crown spread. Always remember to dig safely.
We recommend the Arbor Day Foundation's "The Right Tree in the Right Place" guidelines which advises that any trees planted within 20 feet on either side of pole-to-pole power lines have a mature height of less than 25 feet and as additionally noted in the diagram below. This will ensure that as the tree grows, it will require little or no trimming in the future.
Tall growing trees should be planted at least 50 feet from power lines or as otherwise noted in the diagram below. If tall-growing trees are planted under or directly adjacent to power lines, they may pose a risk to the reliable delivery of electricity as they mature and grow from the trees or tree parts growing or falling into or upon the wires potentially causing catastrophic damage. They can also require significant pruning.
In some cases, when a customer desires to screen a view or provide a buffer between properties, shrubs are a better solution than trees. A "layered" planting of small to medium trees with medium to large shrubs is a great way to screen unwanted views. The medium trees planted a minimum of 20 feet from the power poles can be flanked by shrubs on all sides to add interest and depth. The layers help conceal less than desirable views from your home.
There are a variety of trees and shrubs with heights of less than 25 feet which are compatible for planting under electric distribution lines. Note that specific conditions at each site should be considered, including the height of the power lines at the site. Trees should be placed so that as they mature, they will not grow into contact with the power lines.
For tree and shrub selection tips including types and specifications, refer to the following list.
Choosing the Right Tree(pdf)
Working space is needed for Pepco crews to check and service ground-level transformers. Following are suggestions and guidelines for planting around ground-level transformers. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in removal of the plantings when access to the facilities is necessary.
Tips: The eight foot (8') working distance needed in front of the transformer door is the minimum distance required. The two foot (2') minimum clearance for shrubbery around the sides and back of the transformer is for the mature width of the shrub.
With a little research and a simple layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in summer and tame the worst winter winds. The Arbor Day Foundation Website provides excellent information on how to utilize trees and vegetation in your landscape to reduce your peak heating and cooling costs.
here to learn about our Right Tree, Right Place program and apply.