Tree Pruning Frequently Asked Questions
KUB recognizes concerns exist about the impact of tree pruning. While we can't compromise on safety or reliability, we do make every effort to consider customers' input into our decisions and to accommodate specific requests to the extent possible. Below are answers to some of customers' most frequently asked questions.
We always invite you to contact KUB Vegetation Management to discuss specific questions or to schedule an on-site evaluation with one of our foresters.
Why does KUB prune trees on private property?
Homes and businesses depend on KUB to maintain reliable power. Indeed, in some cases involving medical care, it can be critical. It is a responsibility we take very seriously, and it is why we prune trees to keep branches away from lines.
KUB has the legal right to enter properties to work on and around power lines within a reasonable area.
Who is responsible for service repairs?
KUB and customers share responsibility for service repairs. When service damage occurs, it's important to understand who is responsible for the repair. Click here for information on who is responsible for tree work when the electric service line is damaged. If your electric service line or equipment is damaged at the connection to your home, click here.
How will I know when KUB will be pruning in my area?
At least two weeks before we will be in your neighborhood, KUB will send you a letter telling you that we will be pruning trees in your area.
If, during an inspection, we spot a tree on your property that needs to be pruned, we will mark that tree and leave a door hanger to let you know that work is required.
We invite you to call us with any questions you may have as soon as possible so we can discuss the work before we begin. You can also see areas where our contract crews are working on our Tree Pruning Map.
What trees will be pruned?
KUB contract crews are trained to prune only those trees that pose a hazard to electric transmission and distribution lines by growing within the standard safety maintenance zone. In addition to pruning trees, crews clear the utility maintenance zone of all brush, vines, and small tall-growing species of trees, which could grow to endanger lines. Crews consider the tree's species, growth rate, and health as they maintain the necessary electric line clearance. Tree limbs that are growing within 10 feet of distribution lines and 25 feet of transmission lines will be pruned. Lateral pruning (see “What pruning method will KUB use?” below) helps protect the tree's health, but it my mean that KUB must prune more than the minimum required clearance to reach a lateral. Trees threatening service lines running directly to individual customer homes from the transformer are the homeowner's responsibility.
What if I have questions about the work KUB is doing in my area?
Please call KUB Vegetation Management at (865) 558-6658 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. , if you have questions or would like a KUB representative to walk your property with you and explain which trees need to be pruned and what will be involved.
Who will be pruning my tree?
KUB only contracts with qualified tree companies who meet KUB guidelines and specifications, and we hold contractors to high standards. KUB foresters inspect the work done by contract crews to ensure it meets our standards.
Will I be able to communicate with the contract crew?
Each crew has a designated Customer Contact, clearly identified by a Customer Contact vest. The Customer Contact can help answer your questions or help you contact a KUB representative who can assist you. He or she can also suspend work at your request until we can make options for non-standard pruning available for your consideration.
What pruning method will KUB use?
KUB contract crews use the lateral pruning method, recommended by the Arbor Day Foundation as the best method for the health of the tree. This method removes the tree branch back to the closest lateral, or “parent” branch, growing away from the power line. This method helps make trees less susceptible to disease.
KUB does not “round over” or “top” trees, which can compromise tree health. You may opt to hire, at your expense, a private tree service qualified to work around electric lines to prune to KUB specifications with regard to required clearances. (Please see next question for more.)
For examples of what some species of trees look like after pruning, see the Tree Pruning Examples appendix from the guide.
What if I don't want KUB to prune my trees?
You may opt to hire, at your expense, a tree service qualified to work around electric lines to prune to KUB specifications. A private tree service may prune to your preferences as long as they follow KUB specifications with regard to required clearances.
If you plan to hire a pruning service, please contact KUB at (865) 558-6658 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. A forester will provide a form for you to sign that includes the guidelines the service must follow and the date when the work must be completed.
What if I have a special tree I am concerned about?
If you have a large hardwood tree that you are concerned about KUB pruning, ask to talk to a KUB forester to see if it meets the criteria for special status trees. Although all trees must be pruned to achieve the appropriate safety clearance, KUB will evaluate exceptions to the standard pruning requirements for special status trees.
Can I be present during the pruning?
Yes, you can. Please call 558-6658 as soon as you learn about upcoming work in your area so we can set up a time for you to be present before crews reach your property. When you call, a forester will talk to you about work needed on your property, your options, and what to expect. When you and a forester decide on a plan and you sign any necessary work agreements, KUB will schedule a window of time for the work on a weekday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
How often will trees be pruned?
KUB maintains more than 5,000 miles of lines. Pruning in your area every three to four years normally allows us to maintain the necessary clearance.
How much will be pruned?
Crews consider the tree's health as they maintain the necessary electric line clearance of at least 10 feet for distribution lines and 25 feet for high voltage transmission lines. If there is no lateral branch located near the 10- or 25-foot clearance distance, crews will remove more of the branch to reach a lateral branch or the trunk of the tree, which helps preserve the health of the tree.
If I am unhappy with pruning done by KUB, will KUB come back and remove the tree?
To hold costs down for all customers, KUB may not agree to pay for tree removal after a tree has been pruned. To discuss removing a tree in the utility maintenance zone or KUB’s other Vegetation Management options, call KUB Vegetation Management at (865) 558-6658 as soon as possible after you receive notice that work is being planned in your neighborhood.
What happens with the brush and debris?
During routine pruning, all brush and debris will be removed within a couple of days of pruning. If you and KUB agree that it is better to remove the tree during KUB's routine maintenance cycle, KUB's standard agreement calls for cutting the tree and removing the brush. Due to cost, KUB does not remove stumps, sawdust, or wood, but we will cut the trunk into 18-inch lengths for you.
What if the pruning will ruin the look of my tree?
Lateral pruning helps protect the health of the tree, but it can result in an unattractive tree shape. If you have a tree that will need extensive pruning or think you will be unhappy with the resulting shape, you may opt to hire, at your expense, a private tree service qualified to work around electric lines to prune to KUB specifications. A private tree service may prune to your preferences as long as they follow KUB specifications with regard to required clearances. For examples of what some species of trees look like after pruning, see the Tree Pruning Examples appendix from the guide.
If you choose to hire a private tree service, please contact KUB at (865) 558-6658 Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. A forester will provide a form for you to sign that includes the guidelines the service must follow and the date by which the work must be completed.
Will you remove my tree instead of pruning?
Removing the tree entirely is sometimes a preferable choice, especially when a tree requires significant pruning, is dead, diseased, or structurally unsound. If you and KUB agree to remove the tree, KUB will cut the tree, remove the brush, and cut the trunk into 18-inch lengths for you. We do not remove stumps.
Will you replace my tree?
Depending on the type of tree removed, we can sometimes offer to plant a replacement tree in a different location on your property. If you prefer not to have the tree planted on your property, you can donate the replacement tree to a public area within our service area.
If I am unhappy with the scheduled work, who can I talk to?
If you have contacted KUB Vegetation Management and spoken with our foresters about your concerns and are still unhappy with the program, our Vegetation Management Customer Advocate can help. The Customer Advocate will explore all options available for your specific issue and work with you to find a resolution.
If you have been unable to resolve an issue about tree pruning on your property, submit a request via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (865) 594-7900.
What will happen if I refuse to let you prune or we can't reach agreement?
If a KUB forester is not able to reach an agreement with you through one of the standard options, the Vegetation Management Customer Advocate will ensure all opportunities to resolve your concerns have been explored.
KUB is responsible for maintaining a safe and reliable electric system, however, and ultimately must achieve adequate clearance.
Have your policies ever been reviewed by a third party?
Yes. In 2010, KUB formed a community-based Tree Trim Policy Review Panel to review our entire program. The panel met 21 times, and all meetings included a public comment period. KUB also conducted four open forums to gather input from the community at large.
Based on input from the panel and the public, KUB adopted the panel's objectives and made policy changes and program improvements. We will continue to review the response to these improvements, keeping in mind associated costs and the financial impact on our customers.
The panel reinforced the basic premise of providing safe and reliable service as well as KUB's practice of using lateral pruning, which has been recommended by tree experts, the Arbor Day Foundation, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
I guess I never thought about all the problems that trees around electric lines can cause. What can I do to help?
There are actually two ways you can help:
- Understand why tree pruning is vital for reliable power for yourself and your neighbors.
- Plan ahead before planting trees on your property.
Choose only low-growing trees if planting in the low-growing zone. See the Tree Planting Zone guidelines for more tips.
How can I get additional information on KUB's Vegetation Management policies or make comments or suggestions?
Use the contact information below to submit questions, comments, or suggestions.
- (865) 558-6658, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.
- (865) 524-2911, outside normal business hours
- E-mail us at email@example.com.