It was in 1854 that J. Sterling Morton gazed with despair at the treeless, empty Nebraskan Territory vista and decided that what this country needed was a holiday honoring trees. Thus, Arbor Day was born. At its inception, Morton's Arbor Day was about planting specific types of trees for specific tasks, such as for windbreaks on a gusty prairie. That idea resonates still.
This year in Pennsylvania, Arbor Day will be observed April 25. Each year PECO uses Arbor Day as an opportunity to educate its customers about the values that trees can bring. Planting the right tree in the right place can enhance property values and increase a home’s energy efficiency year-round.
When planting trees, PECO advises shorter, flowering trees such as dogwoods and crabapples be situated near the street. These trees generally grow between 20 and 30 feet tall. In all cases, it is best to site new trees in a way that they will stay clear of any overhead power lines. Tips on tree selection and planting are available at www.arborday.org.
Evergreens, such as Eastern Hemlock, Pennsylvania’s state tree, are most suitable on the property’s northern side as a windbreak. Large deciduous trees, which lose their leaves in the autumn, can be planted on the south and west sides of a house or other building to provide winter sunshine and summer shade. Shrubbery planted around air conditioners can also shade the unit from harsh summer heat.
“Trees can be a wonderful asset and should be carefully selected and sited,” said Doreen Masalta, director of Vegetation Management for PECO. “The proper species of tree for local conditions and its proper placement can ensure healthy growth and beauty for years. They can enhance our landscape, help block the wind, and shade buildings from the intense summertime sun. Overall, trees make a positive contribution to the environment, and help us all save energy.”
PECO spends more than $35 million each year on tree maintenance across the region to prevent tree-related power outages.
PECO surveys trees along all of its distribution lines and performs tree maintenance as necessary for clearance and electric service reliability. Additionally, the company receives more than 10,000 customer requests for tree maintenance each year, typically situations in which trees are growing into power lines. For more information, visit www.peco.com, keyword “tree and vegetation services.”
PECO also conducts circuit patrols routinely after major storms and each spring looking for potential problems. “Our job is to keep the lights on. We’re working real hard to improve our level of service, and vegetation management plays a key part in that,” Masalta said. “For anyone thinking about new trees for their property, think before you plant, and keep in mind how a tree will eventually grow.”