What you should know before planting a tree
By Gabriella Nashiva
Have you ever looked at a power line and thought of how silently they work so much energy? How easily they can cause massive destruction?
Approximately 20% of unplanned power outages you experience are caused by trees and other vegetation growing too close to power lines (UNISON). Trees growing too close to power lines, or those that grow around them touching the lines create a potential path for electricity to travel to the ground; extremely dangerous.
Tree limbs conduct electricity; this is according to Tree Care Industry Association. When a tree near an overhead power line touches the power line it becomes energized and can cause electric shock or electrocution.
According to Kenya Power and Lightening KPLC, 60% of power issues emanate from falling trees. Trees near power are hazardous in all weathers. In dry seasons, when tree leaves or branches are dry and come into contact with power lines they can cause a fire.
In wet seasons, trees are weakened and could easily get uprooted. If the tree is too close to the power line then power issues emerge. In addition to this, children and animals are attracted to fruit trees, when the tree is close to powerlines then they are at risk of being electrocuted.
Perhaps you see a tree overgrowing toward an overhead power line do not make any attempt to trim it. Call for KPLC expertise.
The question arising becomes; what is the recommended distance to plant a tree away from the power lines? For starters, if no tree is next to the powerline then no need to consider one. Instead you can plant shrubs because even at maturity shrubs do not get to a height of touching the power lines.
The tree should be a minimum of 3.5meters from the power line and not exceed 8meters height at maturity. Other recommendations are 20 to 50 feet away from and a height of 45feet when fully matured.
The owner of the tree is liable for the tree even if the power lines are owned by KPLC or privately owned. Trees are magnificent and play a big role in our environment.
Responsible planting of trees involves planting them away from power lines, on road maps and any other place that could hinder human activities. These beg the question, are we in the way of trees or are trees in our way?