Today is Arbor Day and it’s the perfect time to focus on your outdoor landscaping. Trees add much needed shade to your yard which can ultimately help keep cooling costs down in the summer months. When planting new trees it’s important to consider where to plant them and what type of tree makes sense for your home. The most important factor is to avoid planting large trees (or trees that will grow to be large in the future) near utility lines. While you can’t do much about trees already planted (except to keep branches away from the utility poles and having dead/dying trees removed), you can take a few steps to lower the chances of trees knocking out your power in the future.

The key is to follow some simple guidelines when planting new trees. The Arbor Day Foundation recommends planting taller trees (such as Maple, Spruce, Oak and Pine) away from the overhead utility lines and about 20 feet from your house on the southeast, southwest, and west side. Not only will this keep trees and branches from detaching power lines from the poles, but it will also provide shade helping to keep your house cooler in the summer, and won’t obstruct the warming winter sunlight.

Closer to the curb line, you should plant short, flowering trees that will grow less than 25 feet. Examples of these include Star Magnolia, Crabapple and Dogwood. Below is a helpful graphic.

After a storm, you will probably want to go outside and assess the damage. Just make sure to take safety precautions as there could still be loose or broken branches that may fall at any time. Unless a downed tree is causing a safety issue, it’s best to leave it for a week or two and assess the situation or call in a professional tree service. You might be surprised as to how many trees are savable with expert guidance.

As many of us are home during this time of social distancing, it’s the perfect opportunity to begin yard work and do some spring planting. Just make sure to follow the suggestions above about tree size and location and most importantly, always call 811 before you dig.