Selecting Utility-Compatible Trees

Mature height is the key attribute when selecting a suitable tree to plant under power lines.  Compatible species typically mature at 25’ tall or less.  For power line easements residing between the street and sidewalk, it is also important to consider the tree’s mature crown width so that it does not obstruct vehicles or pedestrians.  Keep in mind that the soil in street side easements is often very low quality, so species tolerant of drought, heat, and compaction are usually recommended.  Larger species are permissible outside the power line easement because they are less likely to obstruct power lines and are more amenable to utility pruning .  An online selection program such as VA Street Tree Selector or WI Powerline Plant Selector can help you choose a species that is suitable for the conditions found on your property.

Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources & Environmental Conservation Virginia Department of Forestry USDA Forest Service