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how close to underground utilities can i plant tree
Old 03-19-2020, 04:50 PM   #1
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how close to underground utilities can i plant tree

I have had some of the utilities marked, but the power company did not know how close I could plant to underground lines, they told me to ask nursery since it would depend on tree type.

Anyone know? *I will of course ask the nursery, but I need to have some other utilities marked first to see what space is free.
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:21 PM   #2
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I suppose it depends on the tree type.
(sorry, I couldn't help myself)
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:29 PM   #3
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I had to call 811 to have utilities marked before I started digging up my water line that was leaking between the meter at the street and my house. The line was within 3 ft of a huge pine tree and directly in-line with an underground electrical line to the street light. The 811 guy simply said, "You are on your own with that one. Hand dig only!"

When hurricanes have knocked down trees with root ball and all around here, the root balls have yanked up the underground power lines, broken lawn irrigation lines, broken gas service lines, and severed water lines.

My conclusion is that no one cares how close you put a tree to a utility until something happens.
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:29 PM   #4
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I donít know the answer. But be very careful digging around the utility markings. They can be off a foot or more.

I once had some utilities marked. And I figured that it would be safe to dig a couple of feet away from the markings. Sure enough, I hit the electric line with the shovel. Luckily I was digging gingerly enough that I didnít cut the outer part of the cable.
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:42 PM   #5
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Hmm not reassuring if they are a foot off!! And and I had not thought about storms. . . crap.
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Old 03-19-2020, 05:49 PM   #6
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I forgot about storms. I was at a friendís house when a lightning strike caused his gas service to rupture and a nearby tree caught on fire.

Iím not sure if the lightning hit the tree first and spread through the roots to the gas service, or if the lightning went through the ground directly to the gas service and the ruptured gas service caught the tree on fire.
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Old 03-19-2020, 06:44 PM   #7
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:16 PM   #8
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Seriously, what kind of tree? And how big to start with? It makes a difference. A maple can spread across the surface at least as far as the canopy, oaks tend to sent the main taproot pretty much straight down, although they'll still have spread too. Most evergreens are shallow rooted. Mostly it's not a great idea to put a tree too close to pipes, but I wouldn't worry much about power lines. At the speed things grow they'll just push them aside. You'll always have to worry about them uprooting during a storm, but that wouldn't be an issue to me. It takes time for trees to grow that big, so it could very easily be somebody else's problem.
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Old 03-19-2020, 07:49 PM   #9
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Old 03-19-2020, 08:49 PM   #10
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Orange tree. And starting small.
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Old 03-19-2020, 10:03 PM   #11
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I would say you are talking a chance. If any WORK in the Right of Way or easement needs to be done they can remove them without any damage or liability.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:23 AM   #12
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I don’t know the answer. But be very careful digging around the utility markings. They can be off a foot or more.

I once had some utilities marked. And I figured that it would be safe to dig a couple of feet away from the markings. Sure enough, I hit the electric line with the shovel. Luckily I was digging gingerly enough that I didn’t cut the outer part of the cable.
+1

I had a similar experience a couple of years ago while digging to install a drain line.

Hard to know where the roots will go as they grow. I'd err on the side of planting farther from the utilities rather than closer.
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:29 AM   #13
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I have had some of the utilities marked, but the power company did not know how close I could plant to underground lines, they told me to ask nursery since it would depend on tree type.

Anyone know? *I will of course ask the nursery, but I need to have some other utilities marked first to see what space is free.
Whether utilities, sprinker lines, patio edge, or house walls/foundation/roof, the answer is going to be "as far away as you can."

It will vary greatly by tree and root patterns. Simple googling on the tree itself "how to plant a royal ponciana" etc., will help you..
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Old 03-20-2020, 05:35 AM   #14
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Your tree may have a shorter life based on the amount of necessary maintenance.

This thread actually woke me up to why I think my dogwood trees are dying.

The previous owner planted them about 35 years ago, 1 to 3 ft away from the telephone lines. In the subsequent years, those lines have been re-trenched at least 4 times. (1. Line failure, 2. ISDN, 3. Cable, 4. Fiber to home). Each trenching, although only only a foot or so, cuts through the entire root line of one side of the tree.

Thus, I think this is contributing to the tree decline.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:39 AM   #15
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A rule of thumb is the roots extend out to about the "shade line" of where the widest part of the branches reach.


I'd keep the tree as far away as possible from sewer and water lines (roots go into sewer lines as a water source).
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:49 AM   #16
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Hmm not reassuring if they are a foot off!! And and I had not thought about storms. . . crap.
Iím in the transportation business. Within a foot is a good locate. Off by 3ft is common and Iíve seen them off by 13ft (rare) and omitted entirely (less rare). Nothing more exciting than pulling up an old line, after told the area was clear, and getting a strong and sudden whiff of NG. Run!

Just proceed with caution and hand dig or rent a vac truck if absolutely necessary.
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Old 03-20-2020, 06:53 AM   #17
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A rule of thumb is the roots extend out to about the "shade line" of where the widest part of the branches reach.

I'd keep the tree as far away as possible from sewer and water lines (roots go into sewer lines as a water source).
Good advice all around.

Although, you'd be surprised how far roots can go to invade a sewer. Once found, a root pipeline is built, sometimes from astonishing distances. Still, good advice to keep it as far away as possible.

In this 40+ year neighborhood, we see a lot of water supply line failures. We also see some sewer outlet failures (my neighbor had his yard dug up).

The point is, a tree is a long term investment. Underground utilities are very reliable, but still typically require maintenance on the decades scale. So, planting anything near or over any utility is asking for a short life for that tree or shrub. It is likely to be dug up or injured over a surprisingly short period of time.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:11 AM   #18
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One of the rules made by the One Call System (811) which is nation wide. It says hand dig 18 inches either side of mark/flagged utility line. Locates can be off for many reason there really is no guarantee that the instrument will give you a true answer ever time.
I encourage you to be very careful and hand digging till found is a safety rule in the industry. A system of backhoe digging 18" or 24' away then caving off dirt on both side to find cable is a method of find utility service also.
I also am in the agreement that tree root system is out to about their shade line. As far as being as far away from the utility when planting a tree is totally up to you. I have seen long rows of tree planted right on top of URD Power lines with no effects. I will say if that company has to dig up that line then your tree might be in jeopardy.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:15 AM   #19
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Well thanks to all who answered. I didn't actually want a tree as the yard is far too small IMO but the new HOA has been on a rampage to get people to add one. The rest of the lines should be marked today if all goes well. I may be abel to send a photo of the markings and tell them I need a pass.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:17 AM   #20
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I also learned the hard way that hand digging doesn't mean "pound your spade in with force". And hand post-hole diggers are the worst. I cut an old (fortunately unused) CATV line that way. Sliced right through. You really gotta go slow and careful if the line is marked anywhere near.
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