Safe Planting

Trees are the major cause of power interruptions for SMECO customer-members.

Download our Right Tree, Right Place Brochure (PDF) to learn the correct distances for planting trees when near the Cooperative’s power lines.

Tree Planning

There are many things to consider when selecting trees and landscaping for your home.

Good tree placement and landscaping can enhance your property’s value and prevent costly maintenance or damage to your home.

Large trees should be planted at least 35 feet away from your house for proper root development and to minimize tree damage to the house. When planting a tree, consider your view, your neighbor’s view, the location of your flower or vegetable gardens, and environmental conditions such as drainage, soil type, and sunlight penetration.

Windbreaks should be evergreens planted on the west or north side of the house, about 100 to 150 feet and no more than 300 feet from the house.

Deciduous (leaf-dropping) trees planted on the south or west side of the house will provide shade in the summer to cool the house and allow sun to enter the house in the winter.

Hundreds of species and trees can be grown in Southern Maryland. Following are a few suggestions that fit the requirements of the planting zones. For more suggestions, contact the Maryland Cooperative Extension.

You may also download our Right Tree, Right Place brochure to learn the correct distances for planting trees when near the Cooperative’s power lines.

Planting Zones

Zone A:

  • Serviceberries
  • Eastern Redbud
  • Star magnolia
  • Flowering crabapple
  • Crape myrtle
  • Amur maple

Zone B:

  • Kousa dogwood
  • Trident maple
  • American hornbeam
  • Japanese snowbell
  • Yoshino cherry
  • Galaxy magnolia

Zone C:

  • Red maple
  • Northern red oak
  • Green ash

These are representative trees. Please inquire about other tree species before you plant.

If you have questions about planting trees near power lines, call SMECO.

Before you dig to plant trees, call Miss Utility by dialing 811 to learn the location of underground power lines on your property.

Plan for the Future When Planting a Tree

Trees are the major cause of power interruptions, both prolonged and momentary, for SMECO customer-members. We devote much of our resources to cutting and trimming trees that threaten electric service.

Carefully selected and placed, a tree can provide your family with many years of enjoyment without threatening your electric service. It can even help you conserve energy by providing shade in the summer and protection in the winter.

Look up first before you plant a tree. At its mature height, a tree planted under or too close to a power line may cause costly trimming and maintenance problems for you and SMECO when trees contact power lines.

Zone A – Small Trees

Zone A is the area within 30 feet of any side of the power line. For this zone we recommend planting trees that reach no higher than 20 feet at maturity.

Zone B – Medium Trees

Zone B is the area 30 to 75 feet away from the power line. For this zone we recommend planting trees that reach no higher than 50 feet at maturity.

Zone C – Large Trees

Zone C is the area 75 feet or more away from the power line. For this zone you may plant trees of any height.

Transmission Lines

Unlike the power lines located in most neighborhoods, transmission lines use much taller poles and carry much greater voltages. If your property is near a transmission line, please leave the area within 50 feet of the line clear of any trees.

Underground Lines

The biggest danger to underground lines occurs during tree planting. Before you dig for planting, call Miss Utility by dialing 811.


Although the big green transformer in your yard is not the most beautiful of landscape accents, it is probably one of the most important. Without the transformer, you would not have electricity.

Like all pieces of equipment, the transformer may need repairs at one time or another, and SMECO crews will need access. To prevent your plants from being removed, please place them at least 10 feet away from the transformer.

Here Are a Few Landscaping Thoughts

  • Put grass, gravel, or 2-inch rock around transformers or other electrical equipment.
  • Do not use ivy or other climbing plants around the equipment.
  • Do not change the grade around equipment to avoid problems with access and service.

Before you dig to plant trees or shrubs, call Miss Utility by dialing 811 to have the location of underground power lines on your property marked.

If you have any questions about the equipment, call SMECO at (888) 440-3311. Thank you for your cooperation.

Vegetation Management

SMECO manages vegetation along its rights-of-way on a four-year cycle, controlling the vegetation that threatens power lines so that we can maintain a safe and reliable electric system. Read the current vegetation management schedule on our Tree Trimming page.

Maryland Tree Experts List

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers a searchable list of licensed tree professionals in the state.