Planting Safety

Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place

  • Overhead power lines - Before you plant a tree, know where overhead power lines are located and plant at least 20 feet away. Trees that grow taller than 40 feet should be planted more than 35 feet away.
  • Transformers - If your yard has a ground-level transformer (a large, green, metal box), be sure to leave room for our crews to access the transformer. Plant your shrubs at least 10 feet away from the front, and 2 feet away from the sides and back.
  • Stay safe around power lines - You should always keep people, equipment and objects at least 10 feet away from power lines. If you’re using a ladder to trim a tree, be sure you’re keeping yourself and your ladder away from overhead lines. Never attempt to remove a fallen tree or branch from a power line. You could be seriously injured or killed. If a tree or branch does come in contact with a power line, keep yourself and others away from the tree and call 911.

Before You Plant, Get the Facts

Here are some quick facts you should know before planting a tree.

  • Pick a tree that’s appropriate for your climate and space.
  • Know where overhead power lines are and plant at least 20 feet away. Trees that grow taller than 40 feet should be planted more than 35 feet away.
  • Call 811 to check for underground utility lines at least two working days before you dig.
  • Once you know where underground natural gas lines are, plant at least 25 feet away.

Plan your plant

Crew clean up after a tree fell through a power line.

Plan your plant

Scott Bernhardt, Manager of Vegetation Management, shares some important tips to keep in mind when planting a tree.

Call 811 Before You Dig

No project is too small. If it requires a shovel, call 811 or visit call811.com at least two full business days before you begin your project.

Planting Trees Near Gas Pipelines

In addition to ensuring your trees will not grow into overhead power lines, you should not plant closer than 25 feet from any natural gas transmission line.

When planting a tree, here's what you need to know.

  • NorthWestern Energy applies a protective coating to steel pipelines and adds a small amount of direct current to mitigate corrosion. Tree roots are attracted to the loosened soil of the pipeline ditch and to the typically constant temperature created by the moving gas. Tree roots can damage the coating and come in contact with the steel. Tree roots carry water and nutrients to the rest of the tree and for that reason are very good conductors of electricity. Risks associated with corrosion leaks and corrosion-related pipeline failures are significantly increased when the pipeline coating is damaged and the tree roots absorb the electric current necessary to stop corrosion.
  • Trees often hide pipeline markers and the corridor that reminds neighbors and contractors of a pipeline in the area. Keeping the pipeline right-of-way clear reduces the risks of third party damage and increases the safety of all.
  • No one wants to lose a tree after many years of growth. Pipelines need maintenance and may even need to be replaced. Trees growing in the pipeline right-of-way could be destroyed when these activities are required.
    To assure that you are planting your new tree a good distance away from any buried pipes, make sure you Call Before You Dig. One simple call to 811 will get all underground pipelines identified. You should plan to leave any pipeline right-of-way clear.

Properly located, planted, and cared for, your tree should continue to stand for many years, providing shade on sunny days and generating oxygen for us all to breathe.