Trees and Powerlines

Trees enhance our environment, streets and homes by providing shade, privacy, and sheltering wildlife, however the fact remains that trees and powerlines do not mix. Trees coming into contact with powerlines is one of the main causes of power supply interruptions during storms and extreme weather events. Here are a few tips to protect both your trees and your power supply.

Watch out for powerlines when planting

Before you plant, look up. If there are powerlines immediately above, consider how high the plant will be when it’s fully grown. If it’s more than a few metres, plant it some distance away from the powerlines.

Ergon’s desired minimum distance between a pole and the trunk of a tree, which when fully grown will measure 4-5 metres, is 5 metres. If the tree is to grow to 10 metres high the desired distance away fom the power pole is 10 metres.

However, for the service line, the one that connects power to most homes, trees can safely grow quite close, even brushing it lightly, and usually not cause a problem.

Trimming trees

Trimming trees that threaten powerlines ensures you have a safe and continuous power supply. If you think that trees near or on your property are interfering with powerlines, please contact Ergon to discuss their vegetation management program and plans for your neighbourhood. Ergon has a routine program for trimming and removal of trees near powerlines using various techniques to balance the visual and environmental value of the trees with the requirements for electrical safety. Please contact Ergon on 13 10 46 for advice.

Hidden services

Just because overhead powerlines are on the other side of the street, doesn’t mean you can safely plant trees outside your property boundary. Ergon Energy, Councils, Telstra and other utility service providers have underground services, which could be severely damaged by tree roots, resulting in interference with your power, water and phone.

Also be extremely careful where you dig, as Ergon Energy has high-voltage underground cables which could cause serious injury or death. Remember contact Dial Before You Dig by phoning 1100 or check the Dial Before You Dig web site at 1100.com.au.

What trees are OK to plant?

It’s a good idea to consult your local council or nursery about suitable species to plant in your area. As part of the Plant Smart program, Ergon Energy, Burdekin Shire Council and Greening Australia Queensland (Inc) assist residents to identify species of trees and shrubs that are suitable for planting near powerlines in their climatic area.

This ensures that the trees won’t grow into powerlines, potentially disrupting the power supply to you and your neighbours and bringing live powerlines to the ground in a storm or windy conditions. It also ensures Ergon Energy’s tree management contractors won’t have to remove a tree that you’ve come to love.

Following is a list of plants of various heights that are suitable for planting under and near powerlines. Lower Burdekin Landcare are also able to assist in identifying the right plant for you. Planting anything else near powerlines is just not worth the risk.

Native Plants up to 1 metre in height

  • Acacia
  • Bottlebrush
  • Wombat berry (will grow higher on a tree or a pole)
  • Paper daisy
  • Hibiscus
  • Long-leafed mat rush
  • Plectranthra
  • Cardwell lily

Native plants up to 2 metres in height

  • Wild ginger
  • Turkey bush
  • Rose opal
  • Grevillea
  • Golden guinea flower
  • Native hibiscus prune
  • Austral indigo
  • Jacksonia
  • Lithomyrtus
  • Native lasiandra, blue tongue
  • Zig-zag vine
  • Pumpkin vine
  • Sea lettuce

Native plants up to 3 metres in height

  • Native holy
  • Coffee bush
  • Wild ginger
  • Swamp lily
  • Cycad
  • Native Cardamon
  • Lime berry
  • Yellow tea tree
  • Silver bush
  • Gondola bush
  • Banana bush
  • Subtrisecta

Native plants over 3 metres in height

  • Silver wattle
  • Acacia
  • Bottlebrush – ‘Hannah Ray’
  • Bottlebrush – ‘Hen Camp Creek’
  • Bottlebrush – ‘Luster Creek’
  • Bottlebrush – ‘Wild River’
  • Bottlebrush – ‘King’s Park’
  • Canthium
  • Coast caper graceful
  • Lolly bush prune
  • Palm lily
  • Beach cherry
  • White berry
  • Cooktown
  • Hakea
  • Leea
  • Weeping tea tree
  • Grass tree

Ornamentals/exotics

  • Acalypha
  • Croton
  • Cordyline
  • Dracaena including happy plant
  • Graptophyllum
  • Hibiscus
  • Fruit salad plant
  • Bangkok rose
  • Pseuderanthemum
  • Zig-zag plant

Think Smart. Plant Smart

Here are some useful questions to ask yourself before planting near powerlines:

  • How tall will the tree grow?
  • How wide will the canopy be?
  • Could it grow into powerlines?
  • Is this a plant that Ergon Energy and my Council don’t want near powerlines or on the footpath?
  • Could there be services below ground?
  • Is it evergreen or deciduous? (Deciduous trees drop lots of leaves, clogging gutters, making footpaths slippery, and creating a mess.)
  • Will its roots, branches, sap, flowers or fruits damage water mains, telstra cables, buildings, fences, footpaths, roads, foundations or vehicle paintwork?

For further information visit the Ergon Energy Plant Smart website or call Ergon on 13 10 46.

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