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Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

Trees planted today are an investment in the future. A healthy community forest begins with careful planning. However, selecting the wrong tree for a site can result in significant pruning or removal, and can cause serious electric service interruptions in the future. Check with a Maryland Licensed Professional Forester, or a Certified Arborist to better understand a specific tree’s maximum height and crown spread. Always remember to dig safely.


Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place

We recommend the Arbor Day Foundation’s “The Right Tree in the Right Place” guideline which advises that any trees planted within 20 feet on either side of pole-to-pole power lines have a mature height of less than 25 feet and as additionally noted in the diagram below. This will ensure that as the tree grows, it will require little or no trimming in the future.

Tall growing trees should be planted at least 50 feet from power lines or as otherwise noted in the diagram below. If tall-growing trees are planted under or directly adjacent to power lines, they may pose a risk to the reliable delivery of electricity as they mature and grow from the trees or tree parts growing or falling into or upon the wires potentially causing catastrophic damage. They can also require significant pruning.

In some cases, when a customer desires to screen a view or provide a buffer between properties, shrubs are a better solution than trees. A “layered’ planting of small to medium trees with medium to large shrubs is a great way to screen unwanted views. The medium trees planted a minimum of 20 feet from the power poles can be flanked by shrubs on all sides to add interest and depth. The layers help conceal less than desirable views from your home.

There are a variety of trees and shrubs with heights of less than 25 feet which are compatible for planting under electric distribution lines. Note that specific conditions at each site should be considered, including the height of the power lines at the site. Trees should be placed so that as they mature, they will not grow into contact with the power lines.


For tree and shrub selection tips including types and specifications, refer to the following list. 

Choosing the Right Tree (pdf)

Note: The diagram above shows that planting of vegetation of any kind is not allowed on transmission rights of way. These are restricted planting zones.

Planting around Transformers

Working space is needed for BGE crews to check and service ground-level transformers. Following are suggestions and guidelines for planting around ground-level transformers. Failure to follow these guidelines could result in removal of the plantings when access to the facilities is necessary.
Plant ID Description Quantity Mature Height
1Cuspidata Capitata
(Pyramidical Yew)
32 - 3 ft.
2Berberis Julianae 
(Julianae Barberry)
818 - 24 in.
3Ligustrum Lucidum824 - 30 in.
4Abelia Grandiflora 
(Pale Pink Abelia)
418 in.



The eight foot (8') working distance needed in front of the transformer door is the minimum distance required. The two foot (2') minimum clearance for shrubbery around the sides and back of the transformer is for the mature width of the shrub.

Plants Native to Maryland

Increasing, many of BGE customers request  native species information and have asked us to add more native trees/shrubs to that they can buy to plant near our powerlines (no planting is recommended  under the transmission lines.)

Although we strive  to be responsive to our customer’s needs , we realize that  plant availability is an issue and have found that specific native tree/shrub species availability is always changing.

The local  nurseries don’t always grow or carry the same species of trees or shrubs that customers have read about so instead of BGE listing  species on the  planting list which may or may not be available, we thought it would be better to  refer property owner to a link to a group that  focuses specifically on native species. The Maryland Native Plant Society . MNPS’s  whole mission is “to promote awareness, appreciation and conservation of Maryland’s native plants and their habitat.”

They keep current .  They have a section on their website which lists vendors (nurseries)  locally and regionally who sell native species and   to whom customers can refer/contact for specific trees or shrub availability. They also have references and resources which could be helpful to customers want additional information regarding native plants.

Energy Saving Tips

With a little research and a simple layout, you can produce a landscape that will cool your home in summer and tame the worst winter winds. The Arbor Day Foundation Website provides excellent information on how to utilize trees and vegetation in your landscape to reduce your peak heating and cooling costs.

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