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Tree Trimming

We manage trees along easements and public rights-of-way to provide line clearance that ensures customer safety, safety for the BWL electric line crews, and reliable electric power while demonstrating respect for customers and their property.

In an effort to improve the environment and promote energy conservation, we are a member of the American Public Power Association's TREE POWER program. Please visit the rest of our site so you can learn more about our program. We can help you plant the right tree in the right place and maintain it.

     Yearly Tree Trimming Map (5 year cycle)

In the event we came to your address and you were unavailable, you should notice a door card has been left in or near your door. The BWL has three types of door cards.

Pink Door Cards

Tree Maintenance Notification

If you see this pink door card, a BWL representative has visited your community as part of our preventive maintenance program and noticed there are trees/tree limbs that are in contact with power lines and need to be taken care of.



Sorry We Missed You

If a BWL representative is responding to your possible line clearance problem and you are unavailable, you will see this pink door card. This card states BWL has inspected the trees in question and will "mark" on the card what they have found.



Lavender Door Cards

Tree Maintenance Completed

If you see this lavender tag on your door, all work has been completed at your location.



Green Door Cards

Oak Wilt

If you see this green card in your door, it is an indication that trimming is needed on an oak tree, but that we do not do trimming or removal of oaks between April 1 – August 1.



With each of these cards, if you have any questions, you can call 517.702.6552. The back of each card has a place for comments.

The BWL will also mail a letter to customers when we begin planning and performing trimming in their community. Read the full letter here.

How We Trim

We strive to complete a vegetation maintenance cycle for all communities in our service area every five years in order to provide clearance for power lines.

A blue dot on a tree indicates trimming is planned. A planned removal will be indicated by two blue dots on the tree. PLEASE NOTE: A red dot on a tree indicates it is a City of Lansing tree that is marked for removal. (The City of Lansing Forestry can be reached at 517-483-4218.)

All vegetation maintenance performed by LBWL crews follows pruning standards approved by the American National Standards for Line Clearance. Our goal is to retain the health of trees and other vegetation, as we clear lines to ensure customer safety and system reliability.

If you have questions about the tree trimming work in your neighborhood, please call 517-702-6552.

Tree Trimming Policy and Procedures


The BWL manages tree and vegetation growth along our electric line right of ways to ensure public and crew safety as well as to provide reliable electric service to our customers. Falling trees and broken limbs are one of the major causes of power outages. Our goal is to maintain a 5 year trimming cycle to reduce the occurrence of tree caused power outages. Additionally, the BWL has tree trimming trouble crews who respond to emergent tree concerns that could affect safety and reliability more immediately. Our tree trimming policy is based on the following:

  • Our trimming is performed based on Best Management Practices for Utility Pruning of Trees.
  • Trimming trees and brush in a manner that will provide adequate clearance from our electric lines for a 5 year period of time. Trimming is performed to remove any limbs in close proximity and overhanging the electric lines. Trimming distance can vary and is based on tree growth cycle in our area. In general , we trim around primary and secondary lines for a 5 year clearance schedule, for both primary and secondary lines, remove all over hanging limbs from both primary and secondary distribution, as well as trim 2’ around service lines. For examples on planting the right tree in the right place see Figure 1 below.
  • Trimming or removing of trees outside of the cutting zone is the customer’s responsibility.

Figure 1 Best Management Practices – Utility Pruning of Trees, International Society of Arboriculture, page 1


Tree Clearing, Wood and Stump Treatment Practices

  • Trimming crews will remove wood and brush that is 4 inches in diameter or less during maintenance trimming.
  • Wood in excess of 4 inches in diameter will be cut into handling lengths and left on site for the property owner. The customer is responsible for removal.
  • Herbicides are applied in strict accordance with state and federal regulations by certified trimmers to treat stumps or brush. Areas in which herbicides are of the greatest benefit are un-maintained with the height of the brush being less than 10’. Stump treatment herbicide application shall be performed on a regular basis as untreated stumps rapidly grow shoots covered with foliage.

Can I have my electric underground?

Customers often inquire about having their electric service being converted to underground to eliminate the need for tree trimming. Installing underground facilities may require boring under or near trees, which can damage the root system of the tree. Please keep in mind, if a tree is planted over our underground service and the service fails, the tree may have to be removed to access the UG cable. Underground electric is also more expensive and not always possible to install.

Storm Cleanup

The BWL does not pick up brush or cut wood into handling lengths as a result of storm damage.

Wood Salvage Contacts

The Lansing Board of Water & Light (LBWL) does not engage and is not responsible for removing wood and/or wood debris during and after tree trimming activities. However, individuals have expressed an interest in salvaging wood and/or wood debris resulting from the LBWL’s tree trimming activities.

Below is a list of individuals available and willing to salvage wood from customer properties. The LBWL makes no representations or recommendations concerning the individuals noted below. Customers are permitted to contact the individuals noted below and make arrangements for any wood and/or wood debris removal at their own risk.

Putnam, Paul 517-749-8944
Browers, Tim 517-749-4929

Laverty, Dan


Byford, Mark


Scott, Aaron

Beson, Keith 517-712-7111
Miller, Mike 517-507-1096


Storm Debris

When severe weather comes through our area, we may have tree limbs bring down our power lines. When these situations arise, we need to work quickly to restore electric service to the affected homes and businesses. The problem trees will be cut so our line crews can make the needed repairs.

The tree debris, brush and wood will be left on your property so we can continue to the next site that needs our attention. Private refuse removal services or private tree services should be able to assist you in the removal of this wood.

We would like you to wait until all our electric line repairs are done and then start your yard cleanup. If our electric lines are energized and hidden under your brush, that would be a great hazard. When you see any downed lines, please stay at least 25 feet away and call us immediately at 877-295-5001.

Tree Planting


Trees are a valuable part of where we live. They help moderate our weather along with supplying us with life giving oxygen. When you begin to consider adding to your home by planting a new tree, please allow us to assist you. Together, we can add value to your home in many ways for years to come.

It's important to consider the type, location and eventual height of the trees you choose to improve safety and electric reliability.

By paying special attention to where you plant each tree, you can enhance the value of your property, save energy costs and prevent costly maintenance trimming or potential damage to your home. Above is a guideline for choosing the right tree.

Specific Trees and Tree Heights

Insect Threats

Battle of the ash borer: Decades after beetles arrived in Michigan, researchers looking to slow devastation, Lansing State Journal
» Read article

Trees Get the Ax in War Against Asian Beetle, The Wall Street Journal
» Read article

Asian Longhorn Beetle, Michigan.gov
» Read article

Underground Utility Clearance

There are some power lines that are located underground and we have transformers, like the one pictured below, that connect and regulate an underground service.

We encourage you to plan your landscaping with our clearances in mind. Remember to consider how much the landscaping will spread as it matures, because we must trim or even remove foilage or structures that invade these clearances.

These transformers require periodic maintenance, therefore it is important that your landscaping does not obstruct access. We require an 8-foot clearance from the front of the transformer cabinet as well as a 3-foot clearance around the back and the sides.

Our transformer boxes contain stickers (see below) to keep you informed of instructions and dangers pertaining to the underground utility.

Raise the flags for safety!

Before you dig, call Miss Dig at 1.800.482.7171 to locate all underground utilities. The service is free and should be called three full work days in advance before you dig post holes or plant trees.