Spring storms are just beginning here on the East Coast. Lately, we’ve had a lot of rain, even some snow, and heavy winds. As the wind blows and we watch trees dramatically sway back and forth we cross our fingers and hope they don’t come down, taking out power lines with them. Wouldn’t it be nice to skip this white-knuckle step in the future? 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 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.