Tree Services

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
Pecan Pagoda Tree Forsythia
Scotch Pine Ash Mockorange
Sweetgum  Pyracanthia

Problematic trees to avoid

The following trees are susceptible to broken limbs, disease and other problems in our area:

Box Elder

Cottonwood and Hybrid Poplar

Lombardy Poplar

Osage Orange

Siberian (Chinese) Elm

Silver Poplar

Silver Maple


Weeping Willow

Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus)


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