|Take Time to Plan Ahead Before Planting Trees|
Here’s how it usually works: We see a shrub or tree we like in a garden center, we buy it, then we bring it home and walk around with it until we find a spot for it. Now that’s real landscape planning, huh? No wonder so many trees end up where they shouldn’t be. One of those places is under a power line!
Although power lines look pretty harmless, they’re actually deadly! So, planting a tall-growing tree underneath a power line is a "no-no" for sure! Utility companies are forced to prune trees away from their lines, and this deforms, weakens, stresses and may eventually kill the tree! Remember, climbing a tree touching a power wire can be deadly!
Another issue to consider is a tree’s roots extend out much larger than the branch spread above and this may very well interfere with underground utilities. Besides, if trees are planted near underground utilities and repairs ever need be made, the trees roots will likely be severely damaged. To avoid all this, know the locations of underground utilities before you plant. Call your utility company if in doubt about line location or depth. Better safe than sorry!
Proper Tree Placement
Tall-growing trees (60 feet or more in height) should be planted at least 35 feet away from houses. Street plantings must also allow for roots and need to be in at least an eight-foot wide planting area.
Medium-sized trees (no taller than 40-foot high) are appropriate for wide planting areas or medians at least eight-foot wide; or for planting areas at least eight-foot square or larger.
Small-growing trees (no taller than 20-foot high) are often the ticket! They’re good for narrow planting areas (less than four-foot wide) as well as under utility lines! These trees can be planted in circles or square beds surrounded by concrete, in large raised planting containers or many other places totally unsuitable for other trees due to overhead or underground restrictions or other concerns.
Good Places to Plant
It’s a good idea to plant evergreen trees on the north and the west side of your home to block prevailing winds. Keep them about 50 feet from the house. It’s also a great thing to plant deciduous trees (drop their leaves in the winter) on the south and west sides of your home so it will be cooler in the summer (blocks the sun’s rays) and allow the sun to shine in during the winter. That’s smart thinking.
Planting trees in the right place can increase your property value and also prevent maintenance headaches in the future. Check that little tag on the tree before you buy it (the one telling the mature height and spread). Also, do some advance planning and you’ll be way ahead of the game!
Jerry A. Chenault is an Urban Regional Extension Agent with The Alabama Cooperative Extension System, New & Nontraditional Programs division.