If you’ve taken our advice about fall being the best time for planting trees, shrubs, and perennials, you are probably chomping at the bit to get to planting. Hopefully you’ve done some research on which plants you want to incorporate into your landscape, where you want to place them, and now you are ready to dig, dig, dig. You’ve checked off a lot of important steps but there are a few more you may need to check off before that shovel hits the soil, especially if you are planning on planting trees and shrubs in a new location of your landscape.

If you are planning on planting trees and shrubs, and even some larger perennials, you need to know what lies underground in the area you desire to plant in. CPS has a tagline, “call before you dig”, for a reason. You really need to make sure you know if, and where, there are any electric, gas, phone, and water lines that might be running through your property. Plan to call 811 a few days before you want to plant. Explain your planting plans and a crew will come out and mark your property so that there will be no guesswork on your part.

Danger sign for electricity warning for planting trees and shrubs.
We don’t want to get shocked by electric lines!
We don’t want expensive sprinkler repairs!

Reasons to Call 811 Before Planting Trees and Shrubs

You may be surprised to find that some utility lines are not buried very deep at all, especially after years of soil erosion has taken place. Some sprinkler system pipes are also not that deep below the surface. Do you want to be the one having to explain the geyser gushing up from your lawn as you stand there holding a shovel? Save yourself the hefty cost of sprinkler repairs and call 811. 

Not only could this call possibly save your life (eliminating the possibility of unsolicited electroshock therapy if your shovel hits a power line),  but it will also keep you in good standing with your neighbors. (Ever seen Mildred’s reaction when her TV shuts off unexpectedly in the middle of her soap opera? Not pretty.) Oh, and by the way, it is also THE LAW! If you decide to risk it, not call, and end up damaging a line, you may find yourself paying a hefty fine and possibly be cited with a Class B misdemeanor. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate to end up in a holding cell answering, “negligent horticulture” when asked, “What are you in for?” 

You can access the call811.com website here. It will explain in more detail the importance of making the call. You can even peruse the Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act for Texas (if you’d like to torture yourself), and there are a lot of youtube public service announcements to watch. Or… you can take my word for it. It  just isn’t worth the gamble. Do your civic duty and call 811 before planting your trees and shrubs. You’ll be saving yourself embarrassment, injury, and expense of an avoidable mistake.


This is the perfect time to call 811. Fall planting is right around the corner. Make your calls this September and early October and you’ll be ready to plant trees and shrubs starting mid October and on. Locate all the important stuff underground and then make adjustments for where to place your plants.

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy