Take care when landscaping around padmount transformers

Objects too close to a padmount transformer are a safety hazard. Use this guide before planting or installing a fence. Photo by SafeElectricity.org.

“Gee, it sure would be great to camouflage that green metal box in my yard,” you think to yourself while planning your landscaping project.

Wait! That green metal box, called a padmount transformer, is a vital part of your electric service. Fences, shrubs and trees located too close to padmount transformers can slow power restoration, make periodic maintenance difficult and create a serious safety hazard. If these items are in the way, Dawson PPD crews may have to remove them to gain access. Avoid that situation by taking the time to plan before planting shrubs or installing a fence near a padmount.

A padmount transformer is a locked steel cabinet mounted on a concrete pad that contains a securely grounded, energized connection for one or more customers. These transformers are used with underground distribution lines at each home to step down the primary voltage on the line to a lower voltage used in your home.

In order to work safely on these units, Dawson PPD crews need at least 12 feet of clearance in front of the transformer (the side that is padlocked). This space is needed to disconnect the power source on padmounts that are energized. They also need five feet of clearance on the right and left sides and at least three feet of clearance on the back side to perform repairs.

You may place fences near a padmount transformer, but please keep the minimum clearances in mind. Remember to avoid blocking the front side. If a fence runs along the front side, a gate that swings away from the transformer must be installed. Call 811 before digging.

When planning what to plant near the transformer, consider the mature size and spread of a shrub or tree, which varies by species. This list includes compact varieties of popular shrubs that can be safely planted near a padmount transformer. Remember to call 811 before digging. Consult your local greenhouse or the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum to determine other drought tolerant plans that can be safely planted near padmount transformers.

Deciduous shrubs – ornamental

  • Dwarf American cranberry bush (viburnum)
  • Dwarf Korean lilac
  • Anthony waterer (spirea)
  • Spreading cotoneaster

Evergreen shrubs

  • Armstrong juniper
  • Sea green juniper


Reprinted with permission from Omaha Public Power District.

April 2017

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