Trees and powerlines

Surrounding your home or business with trees and shrubs can create shade, privacy and a feeling of tranquility.

But, when trees grow near powerlines, they also create a dangerous hazard. During storms and high winds, trees can contact or bring down powerlines, interrupting your power supply and putting you at risk of electric shock.

To keep safe while you enjoy the greenery, always plant smart near powerlines. Learn how to choose the right trees, plant them safely and how you can maintain the trees on your property.

IMPORTANT: Call us on 13 12 53 to report trees or vegetation growing too close to powerlines or power poles. If trees are close to or brushing a service line which connects power to a home, call a professional arborist or tree trimmer.

Find more information in our Trees and powerlines flyer (PDF 1.8 mb).

Why are trees near powerlines so dangerous?

It’s safe to say that trees and powerlines don’t mix. As well as causing damage during severe weather, electricity can sometimes pass through a tree when its branches or foliage touch overhead powerlines.

An energised tree can give you a life-threatening electric shock. Hazardous voltage may also be present around the base of the tree.

If you notice a tree that’s contacting powerlines, stay at least 10 metres away. Warn others and call triple zero (000) to report it immediately.

Before starting work, take the time to plan ahead.  Watch this short video for helpful tips.

Trees and powerlines can be a dangerous combination, presenting a risk to public safety and causing problems with power supply.

When planting trees on a property, choose a powerline friendly tree. If you’re unsure check with your local plant nursery or council.

Make sure to plant all trees and plants at least 5 metres from powerlines.

Allow a two metre gap between the service wire - that’s the line running from the overhead powerlines to your house - and the full height of mature trees.

Don’t forget about the risk below either. Contact Dial Before You Dig to locate any underground services before you do any digging.

Vegetation maintenance is also important when it comes to power line safety. Trim trees and shrubs to maintain safe clearance around the electricity service line.

If you need to clear trees or trim vegetation using machinery, call us first for safety advice. Never attempt to trim trees or vegetation near power lines yourself, always use a professional tree trimmer or arborist.

Before starting work take the time to plan.

Download our Look Up and Live app to identify powerline locations and stay safe when working on trees and shrubs near powerlines.

How to plant the right tree

If you’re planting near powerlines, make sure you choose a low-growing, powerline-friendly species. Your local nursery can help, or use our Safetree search for powerline friendly plants in your council region.

Unsuitable trees

Some tree species aren't suited for growing near powerlines, especially if they’re fast growing, tall or drop large branches in high winds.

Grow fast and tall Drop branches in high winds
  • Bamboo species
  • Tall palms
  • Climbing vines
  • Tall Eucalyptus species
  • Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora)
  • Pepperina/Peppercorn tree (Schinus molle var. areira.).
  • Yellow flame tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum)
  • African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)
  • River blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)
  • Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
  • Pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia impetiginosa).

If a plant on your property poses a risk to electrical safety or power supply, we might ask you about having it removed.

How to choose a safe position

Once you have selected the right tree, you’ll need to plant it in a spot that minimises the risk of it contacting overhead powerlines. Remember, planting smart keeps trees away from powerlines, which helps keep everyone safe.

Find the perfect place for your tree or shrub by:

  • planting small trees at least 3 metres away from power poles
  • planting large trees further away, using a 1:1 rule of thumb e.g. a 5m tall tree can be planted 5m away, a 10m tree can be planted 10m away
  • planting shrubs or small trees one metre inside the kerb where the council footway is a minimum of four metres wide
  • allowing for at least a 2 metre gap between the service wire to your home and the height of your mature tree.

The image below shows you how to use the 1:1 rule of thumb for planting large trees near powerlines.

Before you start planting, you should also think about how your fully grown tree might affect:

  • visibility from your driveway, intersection sight lines and access to your property
  • pedestrian traffic, mail service and garbage truck access.

You’ll also need to check:

  • required clearances from streetlights in your local area
  • your local council’s planting guidelines, especially if you plan to plant on a council footpath. You might need to ask for written permission.
  • the location of any underground cables on your property by calling Dial before you dig on 1100.

About our vegetation maintenance program

To make sure your power supply is safe and reliable, we’ll regularly trim and maintain the trees that grow around our powerlines.

Where possible, we’ll train branches away from powerlines and use correct pruning techniques to improve tree health. However, in some cases we might need to remove large trees and shrubs.

Vegetation maintenance on your property

Occasionally, we might need to enter your property to maintain vegetation. For example, we might need to trim a tree in your yard that has grown into the safe clearance space around powerlines in the street. Normally, we'll do this for you free of charge.

IMPORTANT: Always hire a professional arborist or tree trimmer to cut back any vegetation growing near power lines. Never attempt to do it yourself.

Clearing trees near powerlines

If you intend to clear trees near powerlines with machinery, contact us for safety advice online or by calling 13 12 53. We can help you manage any risk of your trees falling across powerlines.

Want more information?

Download our electricity safety guide (PDF 2.2 mb) as a handy electrical safety reference.

For more on electrical safety and vegetation, visit the Electrical Safety Office website.