Safe Tree Planting and Landscaping Tips

It always pays to plan before you plant to avoid unwanted trimming or risks to your home and the electrical system. Things to think about before planting new trees on your property:

  • What you want the landscape to look like
  • Soil condition
  • Light exposure
  • Environmental conditions necessary for the tree to thrive
  • Height of mature tree in relation to power lines

Tree Height Tips

The best solution is to select trees with a maximum height of 25 feet when planting near power lines. However, trees should never be planted under high-voltage transmission lines.

Graphic showing safe tree heights for power lines

Tips for Shrubs and Other Ground Cover

Shrubs that can reach heights of more than 25 feet can also be hazardous. Types of shrubs that should be avoided under or near overhead power lines include:

  • English Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
  • Hazelnut (Corylus cornuta)
  • Leyland cypress (Cupressocyparis Leylandii)
  • Pyramidal arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Pyramidalis')
  • English ivy (Hedera helix) can also cause shorts and outages if growing nearby electrical equipment.

Consider planting less aggressive ground cover plants near underground vaults and keep these plants pruned back from vault lids. Remember, vault and meters must be accessible to utility crews and meter readers, and utility poles must have 3 feet of clearance around them. Avoid dense, tall or thorny shrubs that obstruct or obscure addresses too.

Planting Tips

  • Plan on where you want the tree to be located before you dig a hole.
  • Call before digging to know if there are underground utilities where you plan to plant. Call 811 for free underground utility location information.
  • Apply for a permit in your city or county, as some require permits for tree planting, pruning, or removal - particularly in the street right-of-way.
  • Make sure the depth of the hole is the same as the depth of the root ball and the width of the hole is two times the width of the root ball.
  • Plant in uncompacted soil native to the area where you're planting.

For more tips and detailed guidance, download our complimentary guide: The Right Tree Book

Tree Replacement

When there is an outage caused by a fallen tree or tree limbs, we work quickly to safely remove the areas of the tree posing the biggest risk. Sometimes we have to remove the entire tree. In those cases, we work closely with property owners to arrange for safe removal and provide free tree replacements or vouchers. Unless there is a severe storm, crews also remove branches and cut the wood for the property owner or neighbors to use for firewood.

City Light

Dawn Lindell, General Manager and CEO
Address: 700 5th Ave, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34023, Seattle, WA, 98124-4023
Phone: (206) 684-3000

Seattle City Light was created by the citizens of Seattle in 1902 to provide affordable, reliable, and environmentally responsible electric power to the City of Seattle and neighboring suburbs.