Tree Trimming FAQ’s

Why is tree-trimming necessary?

At Dickson Electric, we know that few things are more inconvenient to you than a power outage or more dangerous than a downed power line on your property. The purpose of tree trimming is to maintain a reliable electric system, reduce tree-related outages, and ensure public safety. Approximately eighty percent of power outages are caused by trees and limbs on power lines. High winds, ice, and decay are a few of the causes than can lead to fallen limbs which may damage power lines and result in long outages while costly repairs are made. By trimming trees and maintaining any and all vegetation within its easements, DES strives to prevent unnecessary and inconvenient outages and to continue fulfilling our goal of providing safe, reliable electric service to our 35,000 customers.

Can DES legally trim trees?

Yes. The court and legal system strongly support utilities' rights to trim and remove trees or brush within and outside easements or right-of-ways for the purpose of maintaining a reliable electric system, reducing unnecessary outages, and ensuring public safety. According to DES Operating Policies and Procedures, DES has an obligation to maintain in our service areas proper clearance from any tree or plant growth within a fifteen-foot radius on either side of the center point of our distribution lines. DES policy is in accordance with Tennessee Code Annotated 65-23-106 which gives Public Utilities and Carriers the power to “use any right-of-way, easement or other similar property right necessary or convenient in connection with the acquisition, improvement, operation or maintenance of a system or systems, held by the state or any political subdivision thereof; provided, that the governing body of such political subdivision shall consent to such use [Tenn. Code Ann. § 65-23-106(8)].”

What method of trimming does DES use?

In order to provide safe, reliable, low-cost power to our customers, it is necessary for DES to trim and remove trees, limbs, vines, and brush from underneath our service lines. DES contracts with certified arborist ACRT to perform assessments prior to any line clearance. ACRT surveys DES power-line routes to identify areas which require clearing.

DES utilizes the following methods to achieve these goals:

  • Manual trimming
  • Bush hog mechanical removals

Who cleans up debris?

We work throughout the year to remove dangerous limbs from our power lines. Tree limbs that come into contact with the lines are the most common cause of power outages and can create serious safety issues.

  • Routine Trimming - Contractors for DES will remove tree limbs, etc. and after completion of work, make every effort to restore areas to their prior condition, if possible. Small debris will be left behind, as it is impractical to attempt to collect items that will degrade naturally in the environment. Customers may request ahead of time for the wood to be left for the property owner. To do so simply call (615) 441-6343 to speak with an ACRT representative.
  • Emergency Trimming - Regardless of how aggressive a utility's tree trimming program may be, storm damage related to trees and limbs will still occur. When tree debris is caused by a storm or emergency situation, DES does not remove it. Our crews must work quickly to restore power to all customers. Crews may need to cut broken and uprooted trees to make repairs to our lines, but it is the responsibility of the property owner to remove the tree debris.

Will DES remove trees if necessary?

There are some trees growing underneath or too close to electric lines that cannot be properly trimmed to maintain an acceptable appearance. There are others that may be decaying, dying, or storm-damaged, that have a high probability of falling onto high voltage electric lines or other critical components of the electric distribution system. In these cases, DES will remove the tree in question.

Can I be present when trees are trimmed?

Dickson Electric System will do everything within reason to accommodate such requests.

What can I do to help?

1. Understand why tree pruning is vital for reliable power for yourself and your neighbors.
2. Plan ahead before planting trees. Remember, by planting trees away from power lines, poles, and guy wires, you'll ensure safe, natural growth and eliminate the need for extensive trimming. Even the most properly planted or carefully groomed tree may require trimming over the years to make certain that new growth doesn't interfere with overhead power lines.

What if I don't want Dickson Electric System or their contractors to trim my trees?

You may, at your own expense, hire a private contractor of your choosing to perform the work to DES specifications. Please call (615) 441-6343 to request that such arrangements be made.

How often will trees be pruned?

DES’ goal is to make one complete pass of our entire distribution system every four years. Trimming, removals, and spraying are scheduled to allow up to four years of growth without the potential of contact with lines. If needed, DES may apply these techniques at shorter intervals to maintain line clearances.

How can I report trees/limbs near or on a power line?

You may call DES at (615) 446-9051 if you are aware of a tree that is interfering with a power line or is in direct contact with one. Remember, never attempt to trim limbs that are near or touching power lines.

What if I have more questions?

For any other questions regarding tree-trimming, please call us at (615) 441-6343 or (615) 441-6344 Monday through Friday to speak with our ACRT Representatives. If crews are working, please don't approach within 25 feet of a work site. This helps us to keep the work site as safe as possible.

I want to plant a tree on my property. What do I need to know?

At DES, we understand the value that trees add to your life. Trees can add to your property value, help cool or shade your home and neighborhood, break the cold winds to lower your heating costs, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. We encourage planting trees, but we stress the importance of carefully planning for the right tree in the right place. In order to ensure your trees see a long and healthy lifespan, we encourage people to follow The Arbor Day Foundation’s Right Tree Right Place program.

The Arbor Day Foundation encourages thoughtful practices that help preserve community trees while also serving a utility company's customers.

The following drawing demonstrates effective planting, placing the right tree in the right place. Trees properly placed can lower line clearance costs for utility companies, reduce tree mortality, and result in healthier community forests.

Tall trees surrounding your home, such as maple, oak, pine and spruce, provide summer shade to lower cooling costs and keep out cold winter winds.

Medium trees, 40 feet or less in mature height, might include Washington Hawthorne and Golden Raintree, while smaller trees such as Redbud, Dogwood, and Crabapple are suitable for planting closer to utility lines, but should not be located within 15 feet of a utility pole. When planting near utility lines, consider a 25 foot maximum mature height and 20 foot spread.

For a list of recommended tree species and distances for planting, contact our ACRT Representatives at (615) 441-6343.