Right tree, right place

Trees need space to grow both above and below ground. Planting the right tree in the right place helps promote fire safety, reduces power outages and ensures beauty for years to come1 .

Planting with fire safety in mind

You can help reduce wildfire risks by choosing the right plants, trees and shrubs and by following vegetation and fire safety standards that require greater clearances between trees, limbs and power lines. To find out if you live in a high fire-threat area, see the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) High Fire-Threat District (HFTD) map.

 

Outside of high fire-threat areas

Select only tree species that will grow no taller than 25 feet at maturity. Any trees that can grow taller than 25 feet at maturity should be planted at least 50 feet away from these power lines.

Within High Fire-Threat Districts (HFTD)

You play a vital role to ensure that the right tree is safely planted in the right place. If you live in a high fire-threat area designated by the CPUC, please follow these safety clearances:

  • Small zone: Within 15 feet of the wires on the pole, plant only low-growing plants less than 12 inches at maturity that have high moisture, and low sap or resin content.
  • Medium zone: From 15 to 50 feet on either side of the wires or the pole, plant trees that reach no taller than 40 feet at maturity.
  • Tall zone: At least 50 feet away from the wires on the pole, you may plant trees that grow taller than 40 feet at maturity.

Planting guidelines near distribution lines outside of High Fire Threat Areas

Outside of high fire-threat areas

Plant only low-growing shrubs underneath and between the wires on the power line and only grasses within the area directly below the tower. Along the border of the strip of land on either side of the transmission line, plant only small trees that cannot grow taller than 10 feet at maturity.

Within High Fire-Threat Districts (HFTD)

Plant only low-growing shrubs within 40 feet of the base of transmission poles or within 50 feet of metal transmission towers. Within the border zone outside this 40- to 50-foot clearance area, plant only low-growing shrubs that cannot grow taller than 15 feet at maturity.


Planting guidelines near distribution lines within High Fire Threat Areas

Mind the lines above

Always look up before planting or pruning trees and work at a safe distance away from power lines. If you see a downed power line, stay away and call 911.

Know what’s below

To remain safe while planting trees, shrubs or flowers, call 811 at least two business days before digging. Workers will visit your property free of charge to mark the location of gas lines or other underground utilities so you can stay safe and avoid them.

Planting near pad-mounted transformers

Avoid planting closer than 8 feet from the front and 2 feet from the back and sides of pad-mounted transformers.

Planting guidelines near distribution lines outside of High Fire Threat Areas

Caption: This image is an example of a pad-mounted transformer.

Creating defensible space

You can help stop the spread of wildfires by creating defensible space on your property.

  • Prune bushes and trees regularly.
  • Remove any dry or dead vegetation within 100 feet of your home or business.
  • Leave space around plants, remove debris and create fuel breaks.
  • Cut grass down to a maximum height of 4 inches.
  • Landscape with slow-growing, fire-resistant plants.

www.readyforwildfire.org/prepare-for-wildfire/get-ready/defensible-space/

We created a series of planting guides to assist you in plant selections near power lines. Not all plant species may be available at your local nursery, but the information will serve as a starting point of discussion to meet planting needs near power lines. To remain safe while planting, call 811 at least two days in advance. Underground utilities will be marked so they can be avoided during planting. 

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