It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago in January, Northwest Florida was experiencing some of the coldest temperatures on record. Now, signs of spring are fast approaching as azalea bushes, and pear and wisteria trees are starting to shed winter and bloom into bright colors.
Soon, many Gulf Power customers will look to start home improvement and gardening projects as the weather warms up, including planting trees. But before spring fever hits, Gulf Power reminds customers and landscapers to plant the “Right Tree in the Right Place.”
“Planting the right tree in the right place may help decrease the likelihood of power outages in the event of a storm,” said Rick DelaHaya, Gulf Power spokesperson, “while ensuring power lines are clear of trees and brush, and provides easier access to the company’s power lines, which means quicker power restoration after a storm.”
“Healthy trees help clean the air we breathe, prevent erosion and conserve watersheds,” said DelaHaya. “We want to make sure our customers stay safe as they get ready to start the planting season. At Gulf Power, we work every day to keep reliability high across our region and we encourage customers to make the right landscaping choices around homes and businesses.”
The first step is to choose a spot where there are no power lines or utility boxes nearby. Second, call 8-1-1 to have underground utilities marked, such as water, electric, gas, or cable, and to ensure no damage accidentally occurs in the ground below – it’s the law.
“While planning any tree planting, we ask customers to be mindful of energy infrastructure and to consider the future growth of the tree when identifying a safe planting spot,” added DelaHaya. “As trees grow, their branches and roots spread out, so avoid planting them too close to overhead power lines or over underground electric lines.”
Because different trees have different mature heights, Gulf Power recommends customers divide their yard into three specific planting zones:
- Tall Zone (trees 40 feet or higher) 50 feet away from power lines,
- Medium Zone (trees no taller than 40 feet), 20 to 50 feet from power lines,
- Low Zone (trees and shrubs no taller than 25 feet). Trees and shrubs in the Low Zone may be planted 15 feet from electric utility wires.
Additionally, don’t plant within a 10-foot area on the sides and back around pad-mounted transformers, and keep the front clear of trees and shrubs so Gulf Power crews can see them from the street.
For public safety and service reliability, Florida law requires utilities to trim and/or remove trees near certain power lines.
“Careful planning when you plant a tree is key to maintaining grid reliability,” DelaHaya said. “The right height trees help to minimize the possibility of power outages, electrical contact and downed lines.”
Visit MyGulfPower.com for more information on planting the “Right Tree in the Right Place.”