Every landscape seems better if it has healthy trees. However, a large tree planted under a power line can not only be a hazard for utility workers, but it can be dangerous for those living around it. Once a tree grows into utility lines, it becomes expensive and dangerous to remove because of the chance of electrocution when limbs are being removed. The best trees to plant under a power line are those that do not reach over 15 or 20 feet in height depending on height of the utility line. Because of the temperature extremes in Kansas, native trees and those adapted to the Kansas weather make a better landscape investment than trees that need an ongoing maintenance program.
Redbud trees grow to about 20 feet and produce a profusion of pink or red blossoms in early spring before the leaves appear. They are tolerant of the temperature extremes of Kansas and are a native tree. The Eastern Redbud is one variety that does well along with the Oklahoma, Texas or Mexican Redbud. The Texas Redbud is available in a white blooming variety. They are adaptable to any soil and need little care once established. They are easy to prune into an attractive shape and are fast growing.
Japanese Maples are an outstanding landscape tree for Kansas if grown in an area with dappled shade. The tree produces delicate leaves with interesting red and orange colors. The leaves turn brilliant red in the fall. Japanese Maples are expensive trees when purchased at a mature stage, but smaller trees are more economical and transplant well. A Japanese Maple will need additional moisture along with lots of organic matter in the soil to remain healthy. It is not a native Kansas tree. Also, Japanese maples are not a fast growing tree. Japanese Maples grow from 6 to 25 feet depending on the variety.
The Crepe Myrtle, also known Crape Myrtle, is a small tree up to 20 feet that can be trimmed back without damaging the health of the tree. However, it should only be pruned back if absolutely necessary to prevent damaging the natural and attractive habit of the tree. Crepe Myrtle Trees produce blooms in the hottest part of the season until fall. They have attractive red or yellow fall foliage and the smooth bark adds interest in the winter landscape. Varieties to look for are Natchez, Comanche and Lafayette. There are also dwarf varieties available that only reach 5 to 10 feet tall. Look for a variety that grows to your specific qualifications because there are so many varieties now on the market. Crepe Myrtle trees are fast growing for the first five to seven years and then growth slows until maturity.
Crabapple trees produce lots of pretty flowers in the spring and an edible fruit for wildlife in the fall. They grow well in the parts of the United States, such as Kansas, that have cold winters. They can be planted in groups to form thick hedges or planted alone as a specimen tree. They rarely reach over 20 feet tall and have attractive colorful foliage in the fall. There are dwarf and weeping varieties available with some varieties only reaching 8 feet tall at maturity.