Utility line clearance pruning sometimes results in less than desirable
aesthetics for home owners. This practice for improving electric service
reliability often points to trees growing in less than ideal locations,
beneath the lines. Frequently, the most problematic trees were not
actually planted by the home owner, but instead just sprouted beneath
the lines on their own. We refer to these as “volunteer” trees or
When it comes to overhead utility lines, volunteer trees can cause
problems, because they grow fast and quickly reach a size that requires a
lot of effort to maintain. Resulting effects may include overgrown
backyards, damaged property and ultimately, the need to prune these
trees away from the power lines.
Home owners can drastically reduce the amount of future utility pruning required for their trees, simply by managing brush while it is still small and easy to maintain. Aside from reducing the need for utility line clearance, some benefits of this management include:
Better access to one’s property, with less clutter
A cleaner landscape
Reduced future costs and avoidance of issues caused by brush
Better air flow within the yard
Fewer pest problems
The simple action of pulling the small tree out of the ground as with any other weed often works for ongoing volunteer tree management. For trees with an established root system that won’t easily come loose, a good pair of hand pruners or loppers will do the trick. Simply cut the sapling as low to the ground as possible. Applying herbicide on the freshly cut stems can also prevent re-growth of the sapling.
Understandably, many home owners enjoy the privacy achieved from a densely treed fence row and may not desire an open view into their yard. We derive these brush management considerations from an underlying principle of planting the “Right Tree in the Right Place”. Replacing fast-growing, large species volunteer trees with large shrubs or landscape trees of a smaller mature height accomplishes screening objectives, provides a beautiful landscape, improves safety and reliability of utility lines and prevents the need for line clearance pruning.