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Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

​​Trees planted today are an investment in the future. A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. However, selecting the wrong tree for a site can result in significant pruning or removal, and can cause serious electric service interruptions in the future. Check with a Certified Arborist or a Nursery Expert to better understand a specific tree’s maximum height and crown spread. Always remember to dig safely​.


Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

We recommend the Arbor Day Foundation’s “The Right Tree in the Right Place” guideline which advises that any trees planted within 20 feet on either side of pole-to-pole power lines have a mature height of less than 25 feet. This will ensure that as the tree grows, it will not require major trimming in the future.

Tall growing trees should be planted 50 feet from power lines. If tall-growing trees are planted under or directly adjacent to power lines, they may pose a risk to the reliable delivery of electricity as they mature and grow, and they can require significant pruning.

In some cases, when a customer desires to screen a view or provide a buffer between properties, shrubs are a better solution than trees. A “layered’ planting of small to medium trees with medium to large shrubs is a great way to screen unwanted views. The medium trees planted a minimum of 20 feet from the power poles can be flanked by shrubs on all sides to add interest and depth. The layers help conceal less than desirable views from your home.

There are a variety of trees and shrubs with heights of less than 25 feet which are compatible for planting under electric distribution lines. Note that specific conditions at each site should be considered, including the height of the power lines at the site. Trees should be placed so that as they mature, they will not grow into contact with the power lines.

Graphic demonstrating that only trees and shrubs up to 25 ft are recommended within Wire Zones 

Planting Around Transformers

Working space is needed for PECO crews to check and service ground-level transformers. Following are suggestions and guidelines for planting around ground-level transformers.

Plant ID Description Quantity Mature Height
1Cuspidata Capitata
(Pyramidical Yew)
32 - 3 ft.
2Berberis Julianae
(Julianae Barberry)
818 - 24 in.
3Ligustrum Lucidum824 - 30 in.
4Abelia Grandiflora
(Pale Pink Abelia)
418 in.


Tips: The eight foot (8') working distance needed in front of the transformer door is the minimum distance required. The two foot (2') minimum clearance for shrubbery around the sides and back of the transformer is for the mature width of the shrub.

Planting Guidance

PECO recommends the following trees as compatible for planting under electric distribution lines:

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  • Acer buergeranum (Trident maple)
  • Acer campestre (Hedge maple)
  • Acer ginnala (Amur maple)
  • Acer tataricum (Tatarian maple)
  • Acer griseum (Paperbark maple)
  • Amelanchier spp. (Serviceberry species)
  • Carpinus caroliniana (American hornbeam)
  • Cercis canadensis (Red bud)
  • Cornus florida (Flowering dogwood)
  • Cornus kousa (Kousa dogwood)
  • Cornus mas (Cornelian dogwood)
  • Crataegus crusgalli var. inermis (Thornless cockspur hawthorn)
  • Crataegus laevigata "Superba" (English hawthorn)
  • Crataegus x lavallei (Lavalle hawthorn)
  • Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington hawthorn)
  • Crataegus viridis "Winter King" (Winter king hawthorn)
  • Malus “Adirondack” (Adirondack crab apple)
  • Malus “Prairifire” (Prairifire crab apple)
  • Malus “Professor Sprenger” (Professor Sprenger crab apple)
  • Prunus serrulata "Shirotae" (Mt. Fuji cherry)
  • Prunus subhirtella "Autumnalis" (Autumn flowering cherry)
  • Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry)
  • Prunus virginiana "Schubert" (Canada red chokecherry)
  • Syringa reticulata "Ivory Silk" (Japanese tree lilac)
  • Syringa reticulata "Summer Snow" (Japanese tree lilac)

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Evergreens for Screens

  • Juniperus chinensis “Spartan” (Spartan Chinese juniper)
  • Juniperus chinensis “Green Column” (Green column Chinese juniper)
  • Juniperus scopulorum “Gray Gleam” (Grey gleam rocky mountain juniper)
  • Juniperus scopulorum “Moonglow” (Moonglow rocky mountain juniper)
  • Juniperus virginiana “Emerald Sentinel” (Emerald sentinel eastern red cedar)
  • Juniperus virginiana “Manhattan Blue” (Manhattan blue eastern red cedar)        
  • Thuja occidentalis “Emerald” (Emerald American arborvitae)
  • Thuja occidentalis “Techny” (Techny American arborvitae)

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