Planting near transformers

Padmount box beside sidewalk

Planting near transformers

Transformer boxes are the green metal boxes located on top of concrete pads at ground level. They’re often found near sidewalks, roads, and in alleyways.

Keep transformer boxes accessible

BC Hydro technicians need to be able to quickly and easily access these ground-level transformers when there's an outage or emergency.

There must be a minimum 2.5 metres (8.25 feet) of clearance in front of the doors. The other three sides must have 1 metre (3.3 feet) of clearance.

You must not construct fences, walls, or structures that inhibit access to the transformer. Vegetation cannot be planted within those distances, either.

Types of plants you may consider

  • Junipers, azaleas, viburnum, dwarf rhododendrons, and mugho pines are good choices for planting near ground-level transformers.
  • Evergreen shrubs provide year-round screening.
  • Bushes that grow to a maximum height of 2 to 3 metres (7 to 9 feet) are ideal.

Before planting

  • Call BC One Call to find out where it’s safe to dig: 604 257 1940 in the Lower Mainland or toll-free 1 800 474 6886 elsewhere in B.C.
  • Note the height of the transformer. Choose plants that will grow a bit higher than the box itself.
  • Consider the root systems of the plants you choose. The roots must not interfere with the cables buried beneath the transformer.

When planting

  • No plants should be in front of the transformer doors.
  • No plants should be closer than 1 metre (3.3 feet) to the transformer.
  • A wire warning rope surrounds the transformer. It’s buried about 0.3 metres (1 foot) below the ground and can be between 0.3 metres (1 foot) and 0.9 metres (3 feet) from the transformer.
  • The power cables leading to and from the transformer are buried 0.9 metres (3 feet) below the surface.

Maintain your plants

Regularly prune or trim the plants you've planted around the ground-level transformer. You must ensure that the plants don't encroach on the clearance required for the transformer.