Trees & Power Lines

Avoid tree and power line conflicts - plant the proper tree
When planning what type of tree to plant, remember to look up and look down to determine where the tree will be located in relation to overhead and underground utility lines.
Often, we take our utility services for granted because they have become a part of our daily lives. For us to enjoy the convenience of reliable, uninterrupted service, distribution systems such as TUB are required to bring utilities into our homes. These services arrive at our homes through overhead or underground lines. In addition to power lines, these can include water, sewer, natural gas, telephone and cable television. The location of these lines should have a direct impact on your tree and planting site selection. The ultimate, mature height of a tree to be planted must be within the available overhead growing space.

Overhead Lines
Overhead utility lines are the easiest to see and probably the ones we take most for granted. Although these lines look harmless enough, they can be extremely dangerous. Planting tall growing trees under and near these lines will ultimately require TUB to prune them to maintain safe clearance from the wires. This pruning may result in the tree having an unnatural appearance. Periodic pruning can also lead to a shortened life span for the tree. Trees which must be pruned away from power lines are under greater stress and more susceptible to insects and disease. Small, immature trees planted today can become problem trees in the future. Tall growing trees near overhead lines can cause service interruptions when trees contact wires. Children or adults climbing in these trees can be severely injured or even killed if they come in contact with the wires. Proper selection and placement of trees in and around overhead utilities can eliminate potential public safety hazards, reduce expenses for TUB and our customers, and improve the appearance of landscapes.

Underground Lines
Trees are much more than just what you see overhead. Many times the root area is larger than the branch spread above ground. Much of the utility service provided today is buried below ground. Tree roots and underground lines often co-exist without problems. However, trees planted near underground lines could have their roots damaged if the lines need to be dug up for repairs.

The biggest danger to underground lines occurs during planting. Before you plant, make sure that you are aware of the location of any underground utilities. To be certain that you do not accidentally dig into any lines and risk serious injury or a costly service interruption, call Tennessee One-Call at 1-800-351-1111 or visit their website at Never assume that these utility lines are buried deeper than you plan to dig. In some cases, utility lines are very close to the surface.