Nothing instills more pride in the American homeowner than seeing their front lawn or backyard sculpted and trimmed to perfection. We have a history of associating home value and wealth with well-kept terraces in the last century and beyond. 

Suburban growth and development changed the American lawn over time. We’ve moved from wild-grass fields to the well-manicured and decorated gardens that dress home entrances across the country. 

As more people could purchase land and a home to live out the American dream, the landscaping industry grew. In 2019, the U.S. landscaping industry generated an estimated 99 billion in total revenue. For many, a well-groomed home is worth the price.

However, landscaping doesn’t just look nice. It also offers several benefits to your home, including:

From illuminated stone paths to water features, there are many ways you can mold the lawn around your home to your liking. While there are plenty of reasons to landscape around your home, there are some safety risks that you may encounter. 

It’s crucial to consider electrical safety when performing landscaping and general care tasks around your yard.

Landscaping Safety Checklist: Digging

Whenever you’re taking on a major landscaping project, you’ll probably need to move the earth around your home. Before you start digging, it’s imperative to call 811 to notify your local cooperative or utility of your intent to dig. A locator will find and mark any utility lines buried beneath your home’s lawn.

Underground lines, pipes and cables can hide beneath the surface of your lawn. If you dig before getting in contact with your local power distributor, you may end up making, at best, a costly error. Fines can get into the thousands of dollars if you strike a utility line. 

Whether you’re adding an inground pool, building a patio or planting a tree, it’s best practice – and the law - to call before you dig.

Landscaping Safety Checklist: Planting Trees and Shrubbery

Planting trees and shrubs can help improve the look of your yard and the environment around your home. However, it’s crucial to avoid planting near electrical lines, transformers or other equipment. As we already mentioned, you must call 811 prior to digging to avoid contact with underground utility lines. Likewise, when determining where to locate trees in your yard, look up to avoid overhead power lines. Plant trees a minimum of 20 feet away from power lines. If a tree is planted near a power line, make sure the tree’s height won’t exceed 15 feet. 

Landscaping Safety Checklist: Trimming Trees and Shrubbery

Tree limbs and shrubs require trimming to look uniform and prevent overgrowth. Tree limbs can grow around power lines, making them dangerous to prune without proper equipment. It’s a smart idea to contact your local distribution cooperative about tree limbs that are growing close to power lines. 

Trimming back branches is vital to preventing power outages, fires and electrocutions. However, you shouldn’t take on a trimming project near these lines alone.

Even if you aren’t close to the power line, a limb can conduct electricity, energizing the entire tree. If someone makes contact with that tree, they can be badly injured or electrocuted. It’s best to stay at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines.

If you do any trimming or work to trees that could be near a power line, remember to look up before you put up a ladder. Before raising sheers or a ladder toward the branches you want to prune, make sure there isn’t a powerline near the area you want to trim; and always carry ladders horizontally to avoid contact.

Landscaping Safety Checklist: Outdoor Electrical Equipment

While a pad-mount transformer box may seem unsightly to your yard’s aesthetic, it’s crucial to leave any outdoor electrical equipment clear for easy access. When power outages occur, local lineworkers may need to check transformers to get the affected area back online. Make sure the area four feet from the sides and ten feet from the doors of these transformers is clear.

Landscaping Safety Checklist: Outdoor Lighting

Many landscaping projects use illumination to accentuate their features. Outdoor lighting also keeps people safe from potential tripping hazards if they need to cross the yard at night.

Solar-powered lights can be a great option as they don’t require any batteries or cables to an electricity source. Lights around the house or garden that require wiring should be buried or covered with mulch. If you choose to go with DIY landscape lighting, make sure you only use equipment and bulbs that are rated for outdoor use. 

Any light fixtures you use outside need to be able to withstand moisture and significant temperature variance. Make sure any cables you use are in good shape and are plugged into GFCI outlets.

Learn More About Electrical Safety

Whether you’re planning to add on a brand-new deck or just want to plant a few shrubs to spruce up your yard, it’s essential to practice electrical safety for all landscaping endeavors. 

  • Call before you dig. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Look up before pruning trees or trimming shrubs. Always be aware of powerlines nearby.
  • Keep transformer boxes and other electrical equipment clear of landscaping. Equipment needs to be accessible in case of emergency.
  • Use electrical and outdoor lighting equipment that’s rated for outdoor use. Use equipment that can withstand the conditions. Electrical equipment that doesn’t hold up can become a hazard.

For more great content on electrical safety, visit our outdoor safety page and blog for additional info.