Proper tree and site selection provide trouble-free beauty and pleasure for years to come. Trees need space to grow both above and below ground.
For long-term enjoyment of trees and to avoid pruning or removal, use small trees when planting under or near power lines. Plant larger, house-shading trees far away from power lines.
When planting near distribution lines, plant only small trees that will grow no taller than 25 feet at maturity. When planting near transmission lines, plant only low-growing shrubs under the wire zone and only grasses within the tower cage. Along the border of the transmission line right-of-way, plant only small trees or shrubs no taller than 10 feet.
At PG&E, safety is our highest priority. Coming into contact with underground or overhead power lines, equipment or gas pipelines can cause serious injury or death.
Whether you're planting a tree or digging holes for fence posts, call 811 at least two business days before you start. The location of underground lines will then be marked so you can avoid them and dig safely. Calling is free, and it's the law.
Here’s what to avoid when choosing a location:
Managed by the California Polytechnic State University, SelecTree has more than 1,400 different trees in its database. The site includes 49 different criteria to search within four categories: Site Characteristics, Tree Characteristics, Maintenance and Use. You can search by tree attribute, which will help you choose the Right Tree for the Right Place. There’s also a page dedicated to Utility Precautions that will assist your tree selection by providing a comprehensive list of appropriate tree species to plant near utility lines. To begin your search, visit SelecTree’s Tree Selection Guide.
Proper selection of trees to plant under or near power lines reduces fire hazards, limits the need for frequent pruning, increases property value and adds beauty to the community. Professionally printed copies of our tree guides are available at no cost to you by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-743-5000.
Or download a copy here.
Palm trees grow only one way, and that is up. Unlike other trees, palms have a single growing point. PG&E can prune other trees so the growth will be directed to the side or away from overhead power lines, but growth of palm trees cannot be redirected. Pruning too close to the center of the fronds, or the heart of the palm, can actually kill the tree. The minimum clearance that utilities are required to prune the fronds from power lines may result in the palm’s death. When landscaping with palms, plant them well away from power lines. We recommend planting at least 50 feet away to reduce the risk of windblown fronds contacting the power lines. PG&E must prune or remove these palms when located inappropriately.
PG&E will remove the tree as close to the ground as practical and leave the wood at the site. The stump will not be ground. Or, PG&E will prune or top the palm tree (leaving the wood at the site) to make it safe for your contractor to complete the removal. A palm may be moved by the owner before it is within 10 feet of the high voltage power lines.
Tall bamboo planted near power lines can contact wires and create potentially costly and dangerous power outages. Unlike trees, bamboo grass cannot be pruned to direct the growth away from power lines. Stay safe and keep the lights on. Plant power line-friendly bamboo.