Landscaping Standards

Landscaping Standards - Tree Planting

NOVEC’s overhead and underground utility power lines, cables, and supporting facilities carry potentially deadly electric current. It is important to understand landscaping requirements around this equipment.

Because improper landscaping is a major cause of power outages and added maintenance expense, our Vegetation Management department strives to find and eliminate situations that may cause power outages or accidents. Property easements allow NOVEC to remove or trim plant material as necessary to maintain a safe, reliable, and cost-effective electric distribution system.  

NOVEC contractors will remove trees that are less than 6 inches in diameter at chest height growing within right-of-way easements. No new trees are allowed to be planted within the right of way. Contractors will remove newly planted trees within the easement when found. Contractors will also remove brush, but they will not remove branches over 4 inches in diameter from trees they cut down or trim. Instead, they will cut branches into lengths of at least 4-5 feet and leave them at the site.

Meter Clearance Diagram

For the safety of NOVEC customers, employees and contractors, electric meters located on your residence must be kept safely accessible to NOVEC service technicians. No plant material or obstructions, such as fences or other lawn items, may be placed within 5 feet from the front of the meter, up to a height of 7 feet. There should be a 3-foot-wide access corridor to the meter available for NOVEC personnel.

No trees, shrubs, bushes, or other obstructions may be placed within 10 feet of the doors or 5 feet from the sides of any pad-mounted transformer. The same rules apply for other NOVEC ground enclosures. Note the guidelines located on NOVEC’s boxes and enclosures.

Do not plant within the underground cable right of way. At least three days in advance of any digging or planting project in your yard, submit an online ticket to VA811 to have underground cables and utility facilities marked at no charge.

Do not block NOVEC’s access to its overhead lines during routine and emergency situations by planting within the overhead line easement. NOVEC’s Vegetation Management department can offer suggestions for designing a proper landscape plan that will not conflict with utility equipment.


Right of Way near overhead linesView NOVEC's Homeowner's Guide to Building Decks & Additions (PDF) for planning and building guidelines.

Landscaping Guidelines brochure (PDF)

NOVEC reserves the right to remove from its easements any trees, bushes, shrubs, or other obstructions that pose a current or future threat to the access or reliability of the electric distribution system.

NOVEC reserves the right through easement to trim back or remove plant material or other obstructions that do not adhere to these specifications.

For more landscaping guidance, contact the Vegetation Management department at 703-392-1600.

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