Planting plans should recognize the size and shape of the 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 overhead utility conflicts:

  • 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 utlitiy conflicts.
  • Street trees should also  be planted at least 5 ft. from water mains, gas boxes, inlets or manholes, 10 ft. from fire hydrants, and 15 ft. from a street lights.

Tree Design Quick Guide "Design implications of overhead utility distribution lines"

Street Trees, Overhead Utility Distribution, and Physical Infrastructure: Design Implications, Maintenance Costs and Proposed Alternatives