University of Florida

Home > Pruning shade trees > Pruning near utility lines > Directional pruning

Directional pruning near power lines

tree near power lines
Topping trees near power lines was used for decades to clear trees from wires. This old practice caused tree decay and was not efficient. Topping has been superseded by directional pruning which directs future growth away from wires. See examples below for details of appropriate directional pruning.

leaning oak tree

Directional pruning a large oak planted directly under the wire to direct growth away from the wire. This requires trees to grow with a lean which can result in trees that are weak.

conifer near powerlines

Conifers are often pruned in this manner when they grow close to power lines. All branches are removed back to the trunk on one side of the tree.

directionally pruned tree

Directional pruning sometimes removes the entire center of the tree if the tree is positioned under the power line. This can make the tree weak and susceptible to breakage.

directionally pruned tree

Directional pruning sometimes removes horizontal branches and retains downward growing branches. The tree looks better than removing all branches from that side of the tree.

pine tree

Trunks on pines and other conifers may have to be reduced back to a lateral branch pointed in the direction away from the power line.

branches directed away from wires

Here you can see branches directed to grow away from the wires with the directional pruning technique.

maple tree

Maple tree pruned on one side of the canopy to clear branches from power lines.

branches over wires

Sometimes branches are left overhanging wires. While this looks better and is best for the tree, overhanging branches can fall on wires in storms.