Columbia Water & Light has received the Tree Line USA award from the National Arbor Day Foundation every year since 1998. The award honors utilities for responsible tree trimming practices and programs to promote appropriate planting near utility lines. Proper planting techniques are encouraged throughout the year by Columbia Water & Light employees. The utility also provides free shade trees through its Tree Power Program.
Utility Tree Trimming
Is there a tree on your property with branches near an electric line that you want trimmed or removed? Please fill out our online Tree Trimming Request Form.
Why does Columbia Water & Light trim trees?
Properties with trees growing into power lines are likely to experience ‘blinks’ in electric service or power outages. Columbia Water & Light budgets $2 million annually to trim trees along overhead power lines. Regularly scheduled tree trimming helps the reliability of the electric system and it keeps the amount needing to be trimmed to a minimum.
How will I be notified when trees on my property need to be trimmed?
Columbia Water & Light will notify property owners two to three weeks before trees are to be trimmed. You can agree to either having your tree(s) trimmed or removed. If a tree damages electric infrastructure, the tree(s) will be cut back so service can be restored.
Will all the tree debris be removed?
During routine tree trimming, Columbia Water & Light tree trimming contractors will take away the smaller branches that were removed. When a tree is removed, larger limbs will be cut in 16-inch to 20-inch sections and left at the site to be used as firewood. Tree stumps are not removed. If tree trimming is done by the utility due to storm damage, the tree debris will not be removed.
How does Columbia Water & Light decide how much to trim?
Columbia Water & Light’s policy is to trim trees enough so the branches will not interfere with the electric lines before the next trimming cycle. Trees along transmission lines and large distribution lines are trimmed on a one to two year cycle. The amount of the tree that is trimmed depends on how much a particular species will grow before the next trimming cycle. Proper trimming practices prescribed by the National Arbor Day foundation are followed to maintain the health of the tree.
How can I avoid electrical problems due to trees?
When planting trees, it’s important to choose the site based on what the tree will look like when it is fully grown. Make sure that there is plenty of room for the tree to grow above and below the ground. Plant trees away from overhead power lines (see image below), driveways and sidewalks. Remember there are also utilities like sewer, water and electric lines underground. Planting too close to your utility lines can eventually cause problems with your services.
Always call before you dig, it’s the law. 1-800-DIG-RITE (Missouri One Call). Remember, locators only mark utility owned infrastructure, not the connection from the water meter or sewer connections to your home.
|Large (> 70 feet):||
Medium (30 to 70 feet):
Small (< 30 feet):
|Shrubs (to 15 feet):|
|Shagbark Hickory||Marshall Seedless||Flowering Dogwood||Euonymus Manhattan|
|Black Walnut||Littleleaf Linden||Eastern Red Cedar||
|Austrian Pine||Norway Maple||Russian Olive||Wahoo|
|Basswood||Sugar Maple||Crabapple||Burning Bush|
|Bur Oak or Pin Oak||Kentucky Coffeetree||Hawthorn||Lilac|
|White Pine||English Oak||Redbud||Rose-of-Sharon|
Problematic trees to avoid
The following trees are susceptible to broken limbs, disease and other problems in our area:
Cottonwood and Hybrid Poplar
Siberian (Chinese) Elm
Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus)
If your property has trees growing into power lines, it’s likely that you’ll experience ‘blinks’ in your service or a power failure. Most power outages result from trees and limbs falling on electrical lines during storms. This program offers choices for landscaping options that are suitable for planting near electric lines.
The first step in trading your large tree with a smaller one is to notify us and we will inspect the problematic tree to see if it qualifies for our program.
- This program targets trees growing near the city’s main distribution system electric lines.
- Trees growing in service lines to your home do not qualify.
- Dead trees might qualify for removal by Columbia Water & Light but they do not qualify for the Trade A Tree program.
- Complete our Tree Trimming Request Form or call 573-874-6205.
- We will inspect the tree and let you know if you qualify for the program.
- Sign and return the permission slip to approve removal.
- The tree will be removed. To keep the costs of this program down, we do not remove the tree stump. We remove the smaller branches but larger limbs will be cut in 16-inch to 20-inch sections and left at the site to be used as firewood.
- You will receive a voucher for the replacement tree/bush and a stake. Contact Superior Garden Center and request which tree/bush you have selected. See the list of tree/bush options available with this program*. Put the stake in your yard where you would like the tree/bush to be planted. Note: trees/bushes cannot be planted in areas where they can become a problem, now or in the future, with utilities. Superior Garden Center might have to make adjustments accordingly after they locate the underground utilities.
*Superior Garden Center is unable to guarantee that all planting options will be available year-round due to the weather and species availability. They are closed June through August and November through February since it is not the best time to plant. You can contact them during these times, but it might take longer to get back to you.
DIRECTIONS TO SUPERIOR GARDEN CENTER: 2450 Trails West Avenue. Head west on Interstate 70. Take exit #121 for MO 240 west/US 40 west toward Fayette. (commonly referred to as the Midway exit) After traveling for 2 miles, take a left at Trails West. Superior Garden Center is on the left side of the road.
Tree Power Program
Electric customers can save money on cooling costs with a free shade tree. Sign up now or call 573-874-7325.
What is Tree Power?
Tree Power promotes conservation through energy-efficient landscaping. When you sign up for the program, Columbia Water & Light will visit your property and suggest the best places for shade trees. You will receive a packet with the planting diagram and a coupon for a FREE 5- to 8- foot tall shade tree. There is a limit of one tree per electric meter. See what varieties of trees are available through this program.
Where do I pick up my tree?
Once you have your coupon, please pick it up at Superior Garden Center (Rost Landscaping), 2450 Trails West Avenue. DIRECTIONS: Head west on Interstate 70. Take exit #121 for MO 240 west/US 40 west toward Fayette. (commonly referred to as the Midway exit) After traveling for 2 miles, take a left at Trails West. Superior Garden Center is on the left side of the road.
Superior Garden Center Schedule:
Tree Power coupons can be redeemed during spring and fall planting seasons only. All tree varieties may not be available year round due to weather and species availability.
March–June: Monday-Friday 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday 8 am to 4 pm, closed on Sundays
July –Aug: closed (not the best time to plant)
Nov–Feb: closed (not the best time to plant)
Hours of operation: superiorgardencenter.com, superior@ tranquility.net, Facebook or 573-442-9499.
Where should I plant my free shade tree?
The packet you receive will have a diagram of your property with suggested planting locations. Deciduous trees and shrubs (those that lose their leaves in the winter) should be planted to shade south walls and windows. In our area, plant trees in a direct line from a west-facing window or wall at a 75° angle clockwise from due south. Shade trees planted in direct line, drawn at the same angle from the southwest corner, will effectively shade that corner of the home. Coniferous trees (evergreen cone-bearing types) should be grouped on the northern and western sides of the house to help block winter winds.
What else do I need to know about planting my free tree?
- Choose a site based on what the tree will look like when it is fully grown
- Make sure your tree has plenty of room to grow, both above and below the ground
- Plant trees away from overhead power lines, driveways, and sidewalks
- Remember there are also utilities like sewer, water, and electric lines underground. Planting too close to your utility lines can eventually cause problems with your services
Always call 1-800-DIG-RITE (Missouri One Call) to have the location of all utilities marked before doing any digging in your yard. Sewer and water lines will only be marked on the city side of the meter. Lines running from the meter to a home are not located by the utility.
Columbia Ordinance for this program: Chapter 27, Section 27-165