Landscaping Standards

NOVEC’s overhead and underground utility lines carry potentially deadly electric current, therefore it is very important to understand landscaping requirements around these lines and their supporting facilities. Because improper landscaping is a major cause of power outages and added maintenance expense, our Vegetation Management department staff strives to find and eliminate situations which may lead to tree/line conflicts. Easements attached to the property over which NOVEC lines pass allow NOVEC to remove or trim plant material as necessary to provide a safe, reliable, cost-effective electric distribution system to its customers.


Brush trees which have grown up within the right-of-way easement will be removed if they are less then 6” in diameter at chest height. No new trees are allowed to be planted within the right of way. Even though our rights of way currently have older trees directly under the lines which must be continually trimmed, it is not acceptable to plant new trees like these. NOVEC is continually talking with customers to encourage them to allow the removal of these unhealthy, poorly situated trees. Newly planted trees within the easement area will be removed by NOVEC contractors when found. Please think first and plant appropriate species. Contractors will remove brush, however, any wood over 4 inches in diameter will not be removed from trees which are cut down or trimmed. This wood will be cut to lengths of at least 4-5 feet and left on the site.

Landscaping Standards:

transformerNear Underground Equipment:

No trees, shrubs, bushes, or structures are to be located within 10 feet of any pad-mounted transformer door and 5 feet from any other side. This information is also located on all pad-mounted transformers.

Trees, shrubs or bushes should not be planted within the right-of-way of underground utility lines. Before digging to plant anything in your yard, call Miss Utility of Virginia at 811 or 1-800-552-7001 to have any underground cables or lines located at no charge. After the lines are located keep all plantings at least 10 feet on either side of the red marks or flags designating underground electric lines.


Near Overhead Equipment:

Trees, shrubs, or bushes cannot be planted within a NOVEC overhead line easement. These materials add to the number of trees requiring trimming, therefore increasing the costs to maintain line clearance in the future. When planting these materials, they must not block NOVEC’s access to its overhead lines during routine and emergency situations.

The NOVEC Vegetation Management department staff would be happy to offer suggestions in designing a proper landscape plan for your property that will not conflict with utility lines.

View NOVEC's Homeowner's Guide to Building Decks & Additions (PDF) for planning and building guidelines.

Landscaping Guidelines brochure (PDF)

NOVEC reserves the right through easement to remove any trees, bushes or shrubs planted within its utility rights of way which pose a current or future threat to the access or reliability of the electrical distribution system.

NOVEC reserves the right through easement to remove any structure or remove or trim back plant material which does not adhere to these specifications.

For more information on landscaping tips, contact the Vegetation Management department at 703-392-1600.