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Utility Companies Commit Local Prunicide on Urban Trees

April 8, 2009


This has to be the worst hack job by the local utility company I’ve seen yet!  In order to minimize safety hazards and improve the quality of service, utility companies commit prunicide to free up power lines of colliding tree branches.  The secondary effect?  An ugly, weakened tree that often falls victim to pest and diseases.

What should you consider before planting a tree?

  1. Contact your local utility company about the recommended trees for your area.
  2. Call your utility company before you start digging, there may be underground utilities as well.
  3. Investigate whether your local utility company has a tree replacement program for problem trees.  Some will replace the trees themselves or offer a nursery voucher for homeowners to find their own replacements.
  4. Plan on buying a species that reaches a mature height less than 25 feet.

According to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, “utility companies spend more than $1 billion annually for tree pruning, passing this cost on to the consumer.”  The responsible homeowner can help curb the cost of tree pruning and the life of an unknowingly tree victim.  So remember, always look up and down before you plant a tree.


What trees have you successfully saved from Utility Prunicide (sharing your zone info is helpful)?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2009 4:50 pm

    Hideous and dangerous, for certain. But what came first, the chicken, the egg, the tree or the power lines. If the lines were there before the tree was planted, then the person who planted the tree gets the Bone-Head Award. It’s always a matter of “right plants / right place.” If the utilities came second, then the best solution would have been to take the tree out immediately and plant the appropriate size plant to avoid this.

    Granted, no one will win any pruning award, but the practical matter of continuing to provide electricity and cable access to Anthony Bordain is also a high priority. The best solution is underground utilities, but that costs a friggin’ fortune. We have only one neighborhood in StaBarbaCA that started out with underground everything and it’s a beautiful place to live (‘cept I don’t live there).

  2. April 17, 2009 10:43 am

    We actually just saw one outside our office that looks JUST like that. I said the SAME thing. Sad, sad & sad. You should have to have a license to prune a tree. Period.

    • April 27, 2009 9:38 pm

      Oh, too bad. @GardenWiseGuy had a good response, “what came first, the chicken, the egg, the tree or the power lines?” Wish more education was made readily available to help homeowners choose the right tree. I think the city should replace trees when they install power lines after the fact.

  3. June 11, 2009 3:11 am

    If you can’t cut down the trees around your house then you should contact the companies who have complete equipments the trim down the trees.

  4. March 10, 2010 12:44 pm

    I work with a tree service and we see these sort of hack jobs all the time. To be honest, this tree needs be completely removed. Unfortunately, there is very little a homeowner can do to have this tree removed since this tree is located in the city’s right-of-way. That being said, great tips on what to consider before planting a new tree!

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