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Trees and plants on your property

person trimming hedge

How to maintain vegetation, safely

It's your responsibility to maintain the trees and vegetation around the service wire (the line that carries electricity from the pole to your home) and transformer boxes near your property. The height of trees and vegetation in this area should be at least one metre below the service wire, and shrubs and plants near transformer boxes must have three meters clearance on all sides.

You can perform your own pruning as long as you keep yourself, the tools you're using and all parts of the tree at least three metres (10 feet) away from the power line. If you can't or are unsure how, contact a Certified Utility Arborist (CUA) to prune your trees.

Electricity has the ability to arc across a gap from its source (the power line) and electrify objects within three metres. This can include you, the tools or ladder you're using, and parts of the tree, leading to serious injury or even death. That's why keeping a safe distance is always important. 

Learn more about how to stay safe near overhead lines.

If any part of the tree or hedge on your property is within three metres of a power line, give us a call 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) and we can assess the situation.

Plan ahead when planting

Plants and trees are a great way to beautify your property and provide privacy and shade for your home. We ask that when you plant a tree or shrubs, that you plan carefully and follow the tips below.

Planting near power lines

There are some special considerations when planting near power lines to help avoid potential issues, like the tree falling on the power line during a storm, or growing into the line.

Here are some important tips to follow before you purchase new trees or hedges for your property:

Planting near transformer boxes

Padmounted transformer boxes are the metal boxes located on top of concrete pads at ground level. They're often found near sidewalks, roads, and in alleyways. In the event of an outage or emergency, we need to access these boxes quickly and easily. This means you must not construct fences, walls, or structures that inhibit access to the transformer box.

padmount transformer safety limits

Here are some important tips to follow before you plant near a transformer box:

  • Select plants that won't interfere with the transformer, such as shrubs that grow to a maximum height of two to three metres.
  • Plant with a minimum of three metres (10 feet) of clearance in front of the box's doors and at least one metre (three feet) of clearance on all other sides.
  • Consider the root systems of the plants you select as these can't interfere with the cables buried beneath the transformer. The power cables leading to and from the transformer are buried 0.9 metres (3 feet) below the surface.
  • Regularly prune or trim the plants you've planted around the ground-level transformer to ensure they remain outside the required clearance area.

See our brochure on landscaping and planting around transformer boxes [PDF, 235 KB].

Know before you dig: BC 1 Call

Before digging or excavating, call BC 1 Call at 1 800 474 6886 or submit an e-request to locate any underground electrical or other infrastructure near your home.

Plant the right tree in the right place

Refer to the visual below to familiarize yourself with the three zones to be aware of before planting a new tree in your yard.

  • Low zone: This area extends five metres on either side of the power line. Trees planted here should have a maximum mature height of six metres or less.
  • Medium zone: This area extends from the edge of the low zone to a distance of 10 metres from the pole and power line. The maximum, mature height of trees in this zone should be 12 metres. Overheight trees in this zone cause the majority of outages.
  • Tall zone: Once you're in an area more than 10 metres from power lines and poles, virtually any strong, healthy tree is fine to be planted in this area.

A property referral is required to determine the maximum allowable height of hedges. Email or call 1 800 667 1517 for more information.

Planting near powerlines