Plan Before You Plant

Dial 811 before you dig

The right landscaping can help save energy and enhance the beauty and value of your home. But you need to be mindful of where the overhead and underground utilities are before you plant or put a shovel in the ground. Contact with a utility line can be life threatening. So even if you are planting only a flower or vegetable garden, call to get a free utility locate at least two days before you dig. The ground grade may have changed since utilities were installed and lines may be closer than you think.

Small trees planted in the wrong place can have serious consequences when they mature. When their limbs come into contact with power lines, they can cause power outages, especially in times of high winds, or when loaded with snow and ice. Trees with mature heights up to 25 feet should not be planted closer than 15 feet to a power line; trees with heights up to 40 feet should not be planted within 25 feet. Roots are another consideration. In general, don't plant trees over or within 10 feet of an underground line. If maintenance on the line is required, you may lose the tree due to root damage. Trees downed with strong roots can pull up a utility line if they are intertwined.

No shrubs or trees should block access to any utility facility. They should be planted at least 10 feet away from all ground-mounted equipment, such as transformers and switch cabinets. Property owners are responsible for maintaining clearance year-round, so don't pile snow in front of or on top of electric equipment. Your outage time will be reduced if equipment is readily accessible.

Tree Trimming

ML&P regularly trims trees in rights-of-way that pose a threat to the electric service for you and your neighbors. Unless it is an emergency, we will contact you before trimming or removing a tree on your property. This gives you an opportunity to contact us before we begin. Danger Tree Hotline: (907) 263-5463.

Tips for Successful Planting

Remove vegetation and loosen the soil. The planting site should be a saucer-shaped area at least three times the diameter of the root ball but only as deep as the height of the root ball. Slope and roughen the sides of the site.

To help keep the root system moist, do not remove the container or burlap until you are ready to plant. Remove all twine and tags from the trunk. When ready to plant, remove or cut away the container, wire basket or burlap from the root ball. Separate and spread the roots.

Set tree in prepared site. The trunk flare or collar (just above the point where the roots begin to branch) must be above ground level. Planting too deeply can kill the tree.

Use soil from the planting site as backfill, but remove large rocks and loosen the compacted soil. Soak the planting thoroughly. Apply composted mulch two to four inches deep around the tree but at least six inches away from the trunk. Do not fertilize until the following spring.

Where to Plant What

In general, don't plant trees over or within 10 feet of an underground utility line.

The following are some of the more common hardy shrubs and trees recommended for Anchorage landscaping. (*Denotes deciduous trees; those that drop their leaves in the fall.)

Plant the following at least 15 feet from any structure or utility facility, trees with mature heights up to 25 feet:

  • Apple* (Malus spp.) 10-25 ft.
  • Oregon Crabapple*, Western Crabapple (Malus fusca, Malus diversifolia) 15-25 ft.
  • Peking Lilac* ( Pekin Lilac, Chinese Tree Lilac) 20-25 ft.
  • Showy Mountainash*, Northern Mountainash * (Sorbus decora) 20-25 ft.

Plant at least 20 feet from any structure or utility facility, trees with mature heights up to 30 feet:

  • Chokecherry* (Prunus virginiana)– Height: 20-30 ft.
  • Oak Leaf Mountain Ash* (S. aria x S. aucuparia) 25-30 ft.
  • Washington Hawthorn* (Crataegus phaenopyrum) - 25-30 ft.

Plant at least 25 feet of any structure or utility facility, trees with mature heights up to 40 feet:

  • Amur Chokecherry* (Prunus maackii) 30-40 ft.
  • Black Hawthrom (Crataegus douglasii) 25-40 ft.
  • Katsura Tree* (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) 30-40 ft.
  • Manchurian Maple* (Acer mandshuricum 30-40 ft.
  • Manchurian Walnut* (Juglans mandshurica) 30-40 ft.
  • Mayday Tree*,European Birchcherry* (Prunus padus) 30-40 ft.
  • Meyer Spruce*, Chinese Blue Spruce* (Picea meyeri Evergreen Tree) 25-40 ft.
  • Oak Leaf Mountain Ash* (S. aria x S. aucuparia) 25-30 ft.
  • Pin Cherry*, Wild Cherry* (Prunus pensylvanica) 25-40 ft.
  • Swiss Stone Pine, Swiss Pine (Pinus cembra Evergreen Tree) 30-40 ft.
  • Ussurian Pear* (Pyrus ussuriensis) 30-40 ft.
  • White-Bark Pine (Pinus albicaulis) 30-40 ft.

Plant at least 50 feet of any structure or utility facility, trees with mature heights over 40 feet:

  • American Arborvitae, Eastern Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) 40-60 ft.
  • American Linden*, Basswood* (Tilia americana ) 60-80 ft.
  • Austrian Pine, European Black Pine (Pinus nigra) 40-60 ft.
  • Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea) 40-80 ft.
  • Black Ash*, Fall Gold* (Fraxinus nigra) 40-50 ft.
  • Black Cottonwood* (Populus trichocarpa) 80-100 ft.
  • Black Poplar* (Populus nigra) 70-90 ft.
  • Bur Oak*, Mossycup Oak* (Quercus macrocarpa) 70-80 ft.
  • Butternut * (Juglans cinerea) 40-60 ft.
  • Canaan Fir (Abies balsamea var. phanerolepis) 40-50 ft.
  • Canadian Hemlock, Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) 40-70 ft.
  • Dahurian Larch* (Larix gmelinii) 60-70 ft.
  • Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) 40-80 ft.
  • Downy Birch* (Betula pubescens) 40-50 ft.
  • Eastern Larch*, Tamarack* (Larix laricina) 40-80 ft.
  • Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) 50-80 ft.
  • European Aspen* (Populus tremula) 70-90 ft.
  • European Larch* (Larix decidua) 70-75 ft.
  • European White Birch*, Weeping Birch* (Betula pendula) 40-50 ft.
  • Freeman Maple* (Acer freemanii) 45-70 ft.
  • Grand Fir (Abies grandis) 60-100 ft.
  • Gray Poplar* (Populus x canescens) 50-100 ft.
  • Green Ash* (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) 50-60 ft.
  • Himalayan Pine, Bhutan Pine (Pinus wallichiana) 50-80 ft.
  • Horsechestnut* (Aesculus hippocastanum) 50-75 ft.
  • Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana) 35-50 ft.
  • Littleleaf Linden* (Tilia cordata) 60-70 ft.
  • Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta subsp. latifolia) 40-75 ft.
  • Lutz Spruce (Picea x lutzii) 55-70 ft.
  • Manchurian Ash* (Fraxinus mandshurica) 40-50 ft.
  • Mountain Hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) 50-100 ft.
  • Nordmann Fir (Abies nordmanniana) 40-60 ft.
  • Norway Maple* (Acer platanoides) 35-50 ft.
  • Norway Spruce (Picea abies) 40-65 ft.
  • Ponderosa Pine, Western Yellow Pine (Pinus ponderosa) 60-100 ft.
  • Quaking Aspen* (Populus tremuloides) 40-80 ft.
  • Red Maple*, Swamp Maple* (Acer rubrum) 40-60 ft.
  • Red Pine , Norway Pine (Pinus resinosa) 40-80 ft.
  • Sachalin Fir, Sakhaline Fir (Abies sachalinensis) 40-80 ft.
  • Sargent Cherry (Prunus sargentii) 40-50 ft.
  • Serbian Spruce (Picea omorika) 50-60 ft.
  • Siberian Elm* (Ulmus pumila) 40-60 ft.
  • Siberian Fir (Abies sibirica) 60-80 ft.
  • Siberian Larch* (Larix sibirica) 40-50 ft.
  • Siberian Pine, Siberian Cedar (Pinus sibirica) 50-90 ft.
  • Siberian Spruce (Picea obovata) 60-80 ft.
  • Silver Maple*, Soft Maple*, Water Maple* (Acer saccharinum) 50-70 ft.
  • Subalpine Fir, Alpine Fir (Abies lasiocarpa) 60-75 ft.
  • Sugar Maple* (Acer saccharum) 40-60 ft.
  • Sweet Birch* (Betula lenta) 35-45 ft.
  • Veitch Fir (Abies veitchii) 50-80 ft.
  • Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla) 100-150 ft.
  • White Oak* (Quercus alba) 50-80 ft.
  • White Spruce (Picea glauca) 40-90 ft.
  • White Willow* (Salix alba) 70-80 ft.
  • Wilson Spruce (Picea wilsonii) 35-60 ft.
  • Yellow Birch* (Betula alleghaniensis) 60-75 ft.


For more information about trees and vegetation, contact the UAF Cooperative Extension at 907/786-6300, or the Community Forestry Program, State Division of Forestry at 907/269-8466.

From the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry:
Community Forestry publications and resources

From the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry in cooperation with the UAF Extension and the Alaska Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects:
Landscape Plants for Alaska:
Trees are Good: