Tree Planting

Before Planting a Tree, Call 811

By Khrysanne | May 5, 2010

Before reaching for that shovel to plant a tree, you need to call 811– the national number that connects you to your local call-before-you-dig center. This will allow you to get  the approximate location of buried utility lines marked. A recent Common Ground Alliance (CGA) survey revealed that homeowner digging projects will be up 10 to 15 percent this year compared to 2009, with tree and shrub planting at the top of the project list.


However, a majority of these homeowners incorrectly believe they don’t need to call 811 before breaking ground on projects such as tree and shrub planting. Unintentionally striking an underground utility line while digging can cause harm to you or those around you, disrupt service to an entire neighborhood, and result in bills to cover repair costs and even fines in some areas.

A call must be placed to 811 before every digging project, not just for tree and shrub planting, but also for projects such as building a deck, putting in a basketball pole or installing a mailbox.

There were more than 200,000 unintentional hits to underground utility lines in 2008 across the country, and almost 40 percent of those happened because someone chose to make a judgment call instead of a phone call to 811. Don’t become part of the statistic – make sure to call!  

Here’s how it works:

  • One free, simple phone call to 811 notifies all appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig.
  • Call several business days prior to digging to ensure enough time for utility lines to be properly marked.
  • When you call 811, a representative from your local call-before-you-dig center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.
  • Affected utility companies will be notified and will send a professional locator to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines with paint or flags. You can learn more about what all of the colors on the ground mean here:
  • Once lines have been properly marked, roll up your sleeves and carefully dig around the marked areas.


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  • Reply Bob Meier March 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I planted a maple tree last year–it is starting to grow off line–I have staked it down–what length of time do I leave the stake in?? Thanks in advance

  • Reply Robert Smith March 18, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Most trees don’t require staking, but when it is necessary I find about a year is the longest I’ll leave on the material. I like to use a soft, flat, flexible strap like Arbortie that moves a little with the wind, and doesn’t cut into young tree bark.

  • Reply Mark Bormann May 30, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I want to plant a tree on my front lawn.
    Internet tells me to call 811.
    I did.
    “You are not authorized to call this number” ???
    Now what?
    Who do I have to call?
    I have asked Endridge to check.
    Who else?
    Thank you.

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