Lines and pines – what to plant and where

This article was published in July 2021 and may be outdated.

If you’re planning a landscaping project this summer, consider what’s above and below the surface. What you plant today can grow into a hazard around power lines and natural gas lines years from now.

Before selecting trees for your project, look up. Will the trees that you plant today become tangled in a power line in the future? A tree branch that touches a power line poses a serious safety risk, and can result in:

  • a shock hazard if a tree becomes energized from a power line;
  • a power interruption or fire;
  • a downed power line, causing a dangerous situation and power outage.

When trees get too close to power lines, they may have to be cut back or, in some cases, even removed, as part of our vegetation management program. Safety is always our top priority, and we must keep trees a certain distance away from lines, which varies with voltage. Keep in mind that although shorter trees or shrubs planted under power lines do not directly interfere with the lines, they can create problems for crews by interfering with equipment movement and placement. It’s critical that our crews can always access overhead lines and other equipment so we can quickly perform repairs when needed.

Tree roots can also damage underground electric and natural gas lines and sewer systems. Trees or shrubs planted too close to meters, transformers, and other utility units may prevent people from seeing them, increasing the risk of injury and damage to property and utilities. They can also create access problems for utility workers who need to read or service equipment, especially species with sharp thorns.

As part of your landscaping plan, request a line locate a Knowing what’s below before you dig will prevent serious injury to you and damage to your property.

To help you make safe choices when planting trees and shrubs near power lines and other equipment, see Manitoba Hydro’s Right Tree – Right Place guide (PDF, 2.8 MB).