Planting plans should recognize the size and shape of a tree throughout its life and allow enough overhead space for the tree's mature crown size. Major problems and costs caused by trees planted too close to buildings, power lines, streetlights, and traffic signs can be avoided by selecting species that will not require repetitive pruning or develop limbs that will grow into utility lines or reduce traffic safety.

The following guidelines can help communities avoid conflicts between trees and overhead utilities:

  • Select small trees with a maximum mature height of 25 ft. in locations under overhead power lines.
  • Select medium trees, with a maximum height of 45 ft., for locations 20 – 40 ft. away from utility conflicts.
  • Trees with a larger than 45 ft. height should be selected for locations greater than 40 ft. away from utility lines or poles.
  • Street trees should be planted at least 5 ft. from water mains, gas boxes, inlets, or manholes, at least 10 ft. from fire hydrants, and at least 15 ft. from street lights.

Tree Design Quick Guide illustrates the effect of tree pruning near utility lines. 

Street Trees, Overhead Utility Distribution, and Physical Infrastructure reviews design implications, maintenance costs, and proposed alternatives to street tree and utility infrastructure conflicts.