The Lines Below the Lawn

The Lines Below the Lawn

At our January meeting we heard from USA North 811 about the need to call 811 before you dig. One surprising fact: in some residential areas, the utility lines might be laid across the yards just under the sod/lawn. Any digging for gardens or other landscaping could easily rupture your gas or phone lines. Another safety fact: if you accidentally discover your gas line with a metal tool, it will likely be the last thing you ever do!

Can homeowners call 811 before they dig a hole for a tree or fence, or put new landscaping plans and sprinklers in place? Yes, you should! It’s a free service that’s required in California. If you don’t call it may cost you some serious money to fix what could have been identified earlier. Should landscapers and construction workers call 811? Yes, it’s the law.

utility marking colors
Utility Marking Color Code

Perhaps you’ve seen these colorful markings in streets where construction was about to begin. Each colored line refers to a different utility. Once you call, the utilities have up to 14 days to mark or provide information about the intended dig area (marked in white paint).

What if you live in a housing area that’s managed by a single company (like a mobile home park). Should they call 811? Yes they should, because even if they break their own lines they have a responsibility to provide utilities to their residents.

Quick facts:

  • There’s more than one football field’s length (more than 100 billion feet) of buried utilities for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
  • Every six minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.
  • The depth of utilities varies by location and by type of utility. An underground pipe or cable may no longer be at the same depth as when it was originally buried if grading, leveling, erosion or other nearby surface activity has taken place.

If you plan to dig, be safe and call 811. File a ticket, find your utilities, and live to tell us about it.

Ready to get started? Here’s a great, quick video showing how to pre-mark your site (en espaƱol).