Proper Places for Trees Around Homes
The following article is excerpted with permission of the Alabama Urban Forestry Association (AUFA). The International Society of Arboriculture submitted this as part of the Winter 1999 AUFA newsletter article, "Avoiding Tree & Utility Conflicts."
Determining where to plant a tree is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Many factors should be considered prior to planting. When planning what type of tree to plant, remember to look up and look down to determine where the tree will be located in relation to overhead and underground utility lines.
The illustration below indicates approximately where trees should be planted in relation to utility lines. Your garden center staff or tree care professional will gladly help you select the right tree.
Trees that grow 60 feet (20M) or more in height
Larger types of trees can be used here; however, you should consider your neighbor's view or their existing plantings of flower beds and/or trees. Plant large trees at least 35 feet (11M) away from the house for proper root development and to minimize damage to the house or building. These large growing trees are also recommended for streets without overhead restrictions. Street planting sites must also have very wide planting areas or medians (greater than 8' or 3M) which allow for a large root system, trunk diameter and root flare. Large trees are also recommended for parks, meadows or other open areas where their large size, both above and below ground, will not be restricted, cause damage or become a liability.
Trees that grow 40 feet (12M) or more in height
These trees are used to decorate or frame your house or provide a park-like setting. Select your trees first, then plant shrubs to complement the trees. Medium-sized trees are also recommended for planting anywhere the above and below ground growing space will allow for reaching a mature height of 30' - 40' (10M - 12M). Appropriate soil spaces are: wide planting areas or medians (4' 1M - 8' 3M wide), large planting squares (8' 3M square or greater) and other open areas of similar size or larger.
Trees that grow no taller than 20 feet (6M)
This zone extends 14 feet (4.5 M) on either side of the [utility] wires. Trees with a mature height of less than 20 feet (6M) may be planted anywhere within this zone including street tree plantings under utility lines. They are also recommended when the growing space is limited. These areas are also appropriate for narrow planting areas (less than 4' 1M wide), planting squares or circles surrounded by concrete, large raised planting containers or other locations where underground space for roots will not support tall or medium zone trees.
Some Further Suggestions
Plant evergreen trees on the west or north side of the house, approximately 50 feet (15M) or more from the house.
Plant deciduous (autumn leaf-dropping) trees on the south and/or west side of the house to cool in the summer and allow sun to enter the house in the winter.
Planning before planting will help you to be sure that the right tree is planted in the right place. Proper tree selection and placement will enhance your property value and prevent costly maintenance trimming and damage to your home. Good landscaping utilizes shrubs and low-growing trees that are compatible with utility lines. Low-growing trees will not reach utility lines. They will not, therefore, create public safety hazards, cause service interruptions to your or your neighbors nor will they require serious pruning.
For further information on planting and helpful tips on tree selection be sure to pick up the International Society of Arboriculture publications entitled New Tree Planting and Tree Selection available from tree care professionals.
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Copyright © 1999-2001 Vestavia Hills Tree Commission.
All rights reserved.
Revised February 20, 2001