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Fall is the right time to plant the right tree in Alabama

The first weeks of autumn are a great time to go outside and get a head start on landscaping and gardening for spring. The cooler temperatures and lower humidity make for a more enjoyable experience, and new plants are able to take advantage of moisture already in the ground.

As the days get cooler and shorter, trees and shrubs go into a dormant state, allowing the new plants to dedicate energy toward root growth. By spring, root systems are established and the plants can direct energy to producing leaves.

Before beginning your fall planting projects, make sure you’re planting the right tree in the right place.

Alabama Power Utility Arborist Brent McCain offers this advice: “From the power company perspective, the trees and plants we recommend are relative to where they are planted next to the power line.

“From the center of the right of way, the company recommends small, low-growing vegetation like azaleas, nandina firepower or loropetalum. As you expand outward, small trees like dogwoods can be planted, keeping in mind that trees along utility rights of way are subject to routine trimming in order to maintain reliable power,” McCain said.

Alabama Power shares best places to plant trees from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

When selecting a tree, here are some questions to consider:

  • Why are you planting a tree? Do you want shade, screening, spring blooms, fall color or simply something green?
  • What will the tree look like 10, 20 or 30 years after planting? Does it have room to grow in width as well as height?
  • What effect could the tree have on utility lines both above and below the ground?
  • Will the size of the tree complement your home’s architecture?
  • Is the tree appropriate for the local climate and soil?
  • Will the tree be strong enough, or flexible enough, to withstand loads of ice or high winds without breaking?
  • Is the tree relatively resistant to insects and disease?

Alabama Power shares these tips to help customers know where, what and how to plant:

  • Plant only small plants near the distribution lines.
  • Keep vegetation and other structures at least 10 feet away from all sides of transformers.
  • Remember that some trees produce fruit or nuts that attract birds and other wildlife. Those should be planted away from utility equipment to avoid potential service disruptions.
  • Review Alabama Power’s Right Tree Right Place brochure for planting recommendations near utility lines. Call Customer Service at 1-800-245-2244 to receive a free copy in the mail.
  • Consult your local library, tree nursery or extension service for more detailed information regarding the right plants for locations near utility rights of way.

When you are ready to plant, be sure to consider not only what can be seen above ground, but what may be found below. To ensure a safe digging experience, call Alabama 811 or 800-292-8525 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday before starting work. Through this free service, a utility representative will locate and mark any buried lines within two business days.