Plant the right tree in the right place

The recent drought-busting rains are doing wonders for the health and growth of landscaping. It’s rare to have so much greenery here in South Texas heading into July.

Continuous rains coupled with severely stressed landscapes may have some of us thinking about planting new trees or shrubs outside of the normal season.  If you feel the urge to replace or supplement existing landscaping, keep the ‘Right Tree, Right Place’ principle in mind. Simply stated: for the specific site chosen, select the proper species of tree that will fit the space available.

Planting a tree that wants to grow 60-feet tall or 40-feet wide is a bad idea near a power pole and high-voltage lines that are only 25-feet above ground. The inevitable result will require utility pruning, creating a u- or v-shaped notch in the crown, and ongoing problems with the safe and reliable delivery of power to you and your neighbors.

Know where to plant image

Know that large-maturing trees planted within 30-feet of a pole line will rarely grow with a natural shape due to required safety clearances. Always choose low-growing species which will not grow any taller than the 10-foot safety zone around high voltage lines. Plant selection guides are available on our website or from SAWS and the TAMU Forest Service to help you choose the appropriate tree or ornamental shrub for your property. And, don’t forget to always call 811 before you dig.

Not looking to plant? Uproot weed-like tree species instead. Good soil moisture has stimulated many dormant seeds and root systems to ‘spring to growth’, and volunteer trees are coming up that may not be suited for your landscape. Take the time to remove or control these unwanted or inappropriate saplings while small and manageable to avoid a bigger job later. Many of these undesirable trees can grow more than 6- to 10-feet in one season, quickly getting out of hand in your landscape.

The past four-year drought has also created a multitude of stress-weakened or dead trees. Some homeowners felt the effects as winds took out trees that might have ordinarily weathered our recent storms.

Tree uprooted

Get ahead of the risk by routinely checking your property for trees that may pose an immediate threat to your home, the service drop to your home, or high voltage lines running from pole top to pole top. These lines typically serve hundreds of customers, and are key in providing reliable power to your neighborhood.

Utility Lines and Trees


If you or your arborist plan to prune trees, pay attention to any lines that may be near or hidden within the branches. If you’re going to be within 10-feet of a high voltage line, you can request service online to request that the tree be evaluated for your safety. Only qualified personnel may work around these lines. If the work is close to the service line to the home, you need to have the line from the pole to the house disconnected first. Schedule a temporary disconnect by notifying us at least a week in advance.

Happy summer planting! Who would have thought we’d be saying that in June?

John Moreno

John is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.

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