What to do BEFORE planting a tree or landscaping

Planning to plant a tree or shrub or do some landscaping? Great idea! Trees and shrubs enhance our quality of life. But look around FIRST. Are there any overhead lines or underground power equipment nearby?

What to do if there’s a power line near where you want to plant a tree

Use our online tool to choose the right tree or shrub. It can help you select a type of tree or shrub that suits you and is compatible with the power distribution system.

The search tool gives all the details about the trees and shrubs listed, with photos. It also tells you the safe planting distance from a distribution line. By planting at least that far away, you can avoid all kinds of problems. You’ll ensure your tree has all the space it needs to grow without losing its natural shape or coming too close to a medium-voltage power line.

Use our Choose the Right Tree or Shrub tool

Take care with climbing plants

Never plant a climbing plant near a utility pole. It could grow up the pole, which would complicate our maintenance work and could cause outages!

NEVER attempt to trim vegetation near a medium-voltage line yourself!

Recognizing medium-voltage lines

What to do if there may be underground utilities

You think there might be underground power, telecommunications, TV cable, sewer, natural gas or water lines or other utilities where you want to dig?

What to do if there’s a pad-mounted cabinet

In neighborhoods with an underground distribution system, cables are buried in underground conduits, while metal cabinets above ground contain other equipment.

Never dig around a pad-mounted cabinet. There are actually live wires and ground wires buried around the pad. Digging there could be dangerous and damage the devices that keep the equipment safe.

Example of a pad-mounted transformer.

Clearance in front of a pad-mounted cabinet

You should leave at least 4 m clear in front of a pad-mounted cabinet so the doors can open and to keep maintenance workers safe

Clearance at sides and back

You should leave a 1.5-m strip clear beside and behind a pad-mounted cabinet. It’s important not to plant any trees or shrubs in this strip.

Branches and foliage

Tree and shrub branches and foliage must not come within 60 cm of the cabinet. Flowers must also be planted the same distance away.

Be sure to regularly maintain trees and shrubs planted close to a pad-mounted transformer so they don’t start to grow over it.

Never put anything in front of a pad-mounted cabinet

Hydro-Québec employees have to be able to locate this equipment easily and have access to it at all times for normal maintenance and emergency repairs.


Never camouflage a pad-mounted cabinet with vegetation or any sort of panel.

For more information, see the brochure The Right Tree in the Right Place: The Underground Distribution System [PDF 6.17 MB].