Tree & Vegetation Management

Tree & Vegetation Management


Vegetation Management Specialists and Certified Arborists

If you have questions about tree pruning or tree replacement, MTEMC has trained people in place to help you. They are certified arborists whom we call Vegetation Management Specialists. They are familiar with a wide variety of tree species and proper tree pruning practices, and they coordinate our actual tree pruning efforts performed by the contractors we hire throughout our service area. But most importantly, they're here to serve you.

For any information about MTEMC's tree pruning program, call (877) 414-7685 or e-mail


Bryon Smith


Ethan Weibrecht


Michael Johnson


Jeremy Goldsby



Tree & Vegetation Management FAQ


Trees appropriate for planting in/near Rights-of-Way

When planning landscaping, it should be understood that some trees have no place near power line rights-of-way or underground electric equipment. Some other tree types, however, can be safely planted within and near rights-of-way. MTEMC has a list of recommendations. View the list here!

Download The List of Vegetation Recommendations

Why does MTEMC have to cut trees along its primary right of way 20 feet on both sides?

When trees grow into or near power lines, they can cause power interruptions and safety concerns to you and your neighbors. MTEMC depends on a stringent pruning cycle to keep power lines free of tree growth. Pruning the entire power line on a regular basis instead of individual locations ensures an economical approach to maintaining the integrity of the power line. MTEMC's intentional approach to pruning trees means having a thorough maintenance plan; a plan that improves the safety and reliability of electric service provided to you, our member.

Does MTEMC replace trees that are removed from the right of way?

Yes, if the tree is landscaped (mowed around) on a weekly basis, MTEMC will replace it with a five-foot-tall, low-growing species planted at an approved distance from the power line at no cost to the member. (See our list of replacement trees.)

Can members prune their own trees or hire contractors to prune their trees instead of allowing MTEMC contractors to prune their trees?

No, Middle Tennessee Electric must first obtain the proper clearance required by OSHA in Ansi Z133.1. On secondary and service lines, MTEMC may choose to obtain clearance by first removing the line and then the member may prune the tree.

Does MTEMC clean up after grinding stumps along its right of way?

No, the chips are left on site and no dirt, seed, straw, etc., will be placed by MTEMC to the site.

Does MTEMC prune around electrical service lines that run from the main power line to the home?

Yes, MTEMC prunes a five-foot radius around services (from the MTEMC power line to the home) during our regular six-year pruning cycle only. MTEMC does not prune services at any other time.

Does MTEMC clean up trees after a storm?

No, MTEMC prunes trees to prevent electric outages on our system. Therefore, MTEMC wants to remove that tree before it causes an outage, not after. The tree still belongs to the member. In this case, our immediate priority is to restore power to our members.

How will members be notified that MTEMC will be pruning trees?

Work planners go into the neighborhood to meet personally with members to discuss the work. These work planners are specially trained individuals, many of them certified arborists. They have flexible schedules to maximize their ability to meet with members. If a work planner is unable to contact a homeowner, a door hanger is left that explains the pruning that must be done. A telephone number is listed on the door hanger should the member have questions or concerns or call 1-877-414-7685.

Can MTEMC legally prune trees?

Yes, MTEMC has the right and the obligation to its members to maintain any and all vegetation within its right of way. The court and legal system strongly support utilities right to trim and remove trees and or brush within and outside of the right of way.

How should trees be pruned?

Pruning should be done using the lateral pruning method, which was developed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) and approved by the National Arborist Association, and the National Arbor Day Foundation. Lateral pruning leaves the overall structure of the tree stronger and more resistant to high winds and heavy ice. Future growth is directed away from power lines. Topping trees (also known as rounding over or shaping) is NOT endorsed by ISA because it leaves trees susceptible to disease and insect infestation.

Does MTEMC prune around un-energized structures?

Yes, if vegetation around un-energized structures such as poles, guys, span guys, etc., creates a safety or reliability risk, MTEMC may remove it.



What our Tree Crews Do

Middle Tennessee Electric's tree pruning crews are in your neighborhood once every two years to maintain our power lines and more often to maintain fast-growing trees. National Electric Safety Code (NESC) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulations require electric utilities to clear vegetation from power lines as a safety measure for our crews and our members. We maintain a right of way extending 20 feet on both sides of the power lines. We do not, however, clean up debris caused by storms. Our tree pruning maintenance crews are supervised by certified arboriculturists who follow the guidelines of urban foresters and experts from the National Arborist Association and the International Society of Arboriculture. Their work may include:

Side Pruning

Pruning the branches growing toward lines on one side of the tree. Trees that encroach within 20 feet of the power line right of way will be pruned back.

Crown Reduction

Crown reduction is a pruning practice that MTEMC employs that reduces the height of a tree in order to achieve clearance from power lines. This is prescribed when the tree is in close proximity to power lines and includes removal of the central leader of the tree.

Tree Replacement

When a residential tree must be removed, we will replace it with another one of the homeowner's choosing. A variety of beautiful, low-growing trees are available through our tree replacement program at no cost to you. Because it is not recommended to plant trees during the growing season, Middle Tennessee Electric will plant trees from November to mid-April.

Tree Removal

Trees will only be removed if they pose a threat to your electric service. However, repetitive pruning of fast-growing trees directly under power lines is costly, temporary, and ultimately damages the tree by causing it to develop internal decay. Therefore, Middle Tennessee Electric recommends that you consider removing fast-growing trees.



Tree Growth Regulator FAQ


What are Tree Growth Regulators (TGR)?

TGR is a plant-based growth inhibitor that is applied underground directly to the area around the tree roots. It allows the tree to grow at a slower rate while improving its foliage density, color, and health. This reduces the need for tree pruning by our Vegetation Management team by staying in the trees for 3 – 5 years depending on the tree.

Does MTEMC use Tree Growth Regulators (TGR)?

Yes. Tree Growth Regulators (TGR) are one of the options our members have to help maintain the right-of-way around their property. We use a product called ArborLock, which is applied underground directly to the area around the tree roots. By using TGR, we can reduce the impact pruning has on our members. Members can request for their trees in the right-of-way to be pruned or removed by contacting our Vegetation Management team.

Does MTEMC require members to use TGR on their property?

No. MTEMC is committed to serving our members. One way we provide outstanding service is by offering options for right-of-way maintenance on their property. TGR is one of the options members can request for trees in their yard. If a member would like us to prune or remove a tree on their property which is inside the right-of-way, they should contact our Vegetation Management team.

Does TGR effect the health of surrounding vegetation?

Yes, it’s possible for TGR to slow the vegetation growth surrounding the tree if the roots come in contact with the application site. Because the application is clay-based, it affects only the roots in the area that it is applied. The vegetation will also get the additional benefits of TGR like an increase in chlorophyll concentration.

Is TGR harmful to people, pets, or plants?

No. TGR is a plant-based growth inhibitor, designed to slow tree growth. The EPA and other state agencies have approved the use of TGR because there have been no reported cases of adverse effects on people, pets, or wildlife.

Herbicide Program FAQ


What is MTEMC’s Herbicide Program?

Our Herbicide Program focuses on small trees growing within MTEMC’s rights-of-way.  If these areas become overgrown, the trees could eventually come into contact with our power lines and cause outages. We try to be proactive in keeping your lights on!

How does the Herbicide Program work?

MTEMC contracts with professional, licensed and certified applicators to treat ‘woody-stemmed vegetation’, i.e., saplings, within the rights-of-way.  By targeting woody-stemmed vegetation, grasses and flowers don’t have to compete for water and sunlight and can more freely grow in the rights-of-way.  This prevents the trees from becoming dangerously tall and provides easier, unobstructed access to our power lines.

Should I be concerned about the chemicals are being used to control the growth of these plants?

No, our contractors apply a grass-friendly, non-glyphosate product (Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup) to treat the woody-stemmed vegetation; all of the products used are “non-restricted” and are registered and approved by the EPA and other state agencies.  The products are applied using low volume, backpack-mounted equipment to aid in the precision of the application.

What about the environmental impact?

There are no adverse effects to animals/livestock when the product is used according to label directions, and all applications are performed using best management practices (per the Tennessee Department of Agriculture) in Tennessee with aquatic-approved applications near bodies of water. In fact, as herbaceous plants (plants that have no persistent woody stem above ground) continue to thrive in the rights-of-way, the food supply for insect populations and birds increases, as well for as bees, butterflies and other animals.



Tree Replacement

A replacement tree may be provided free of charge on qualifying yard trees which are removed to improve the safety and reliability of Middle Tennessee Electric’s power system. If a replacement is granted, Middle Tennessee Electric recommends the following trees for replacement of such removals. They are all proven performers for our area, and when properly planted, they will not interfere with the power lines. Other trees may also be appropriate replacement trees. Call a Middle Tennessee Electric vegetation management specialist at your local area office for more information or for planting advice