Proper Tree Trimming

Proper Tree Trimming

Trees provide curb appeal, shade, and space for kids to play. However, when trees grow and interfere with power lines, they become safety hazards and are common causes of utility outages. 

Out of the millions of miles of electric lines distributing power, many trees are growing in lines that require trimming. Usually, it’s because a tree was planted under, or too close, to the line. It is important trees stay a safe distance from power lines and are correctly pruned.

Only trained professionals should trim trees near power lines. Trees growing in utility right of ways are maintained by the electric utility, while trees growing into power lines on private property are the responsibility of the owner. 

Most tree care workers are not qualified to work around energized power lines. According to the Utility Arborist Association (UAA), utility line clearance professionals who meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) qualifications are the only ones permitted to work within 10 feet of lines or on a tree with branches within 10 feet of a line.  

Trees are cut at the growth points for tree health. Some require directional pruning to keep them from growing back into lines. Trees directly underneath may be pruned in a “V” or “U” shape with lines passing through the opening in the middle. Trees growing alongside a power line may be pruned in an “L” shape or may need one side removed. While the shape may change, trees are pruned to maintain health while increasing the safety and reliability of the power lines. 
Often, pruning a tree solves the safety and reliability concern, but in some cases, the tree must be removed. Those include tall or fast-growing species that are directly under power lines, large previously topped trees under the power lines, saplings with the potential to grow in or around lines, and hazardous trees that may be leaning, cracked, or split. 

Property owners may choose to replace a problem tree with a new one. There are many varieties of shorter-growing trees that provide beauty and shade that won’t grow to interfere with power lines. A local tree nursery can help with selecting trees for landscaping around power lines and electrical equipment. 

For more information, contact the office to get in touch with our right-of-way superintendent. 

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