Camouflage: Pine Trees
Towers camouflaged as pine trees appear to be more common in the northeast than the flagpole tower. This method of camouflage has obvious appeal in natural areas where pine trees are a part of the landscape. But pine tree poles are difficult to execute well and when they are implemented poorly, they can have a larger visual impact than an uncamouflaged pole. When the pine tree pole does not look like a real tree, but appears obviously artificial it can be more visually distracting than a completely uncamouflaged pole. There are two elements that are important in tree camouflage: First, cost is a factor in the quality of camouflage and if the lead agency requiring pine tree camouflage is not vigilant regarding specifications, they might not like the results. Second, since the existing trees degrade the cellular signal the tower needs to stand above the existing treeline. This means that the “tree” can be much taller than the surrounding treeline and seem oddly tall and out of place.
The above pine tree pole is off the Hutchinson River Parkway in Westchester County. This pole is highly visible as it is twice the height of the surrounding treeline and it demonstrates the difficulty of blending a tall tree camouflaged pole with existing trees.
Towers camouflaged as trees are most effective when viewed from longer-distances. This view to Pinnacle Hill, NH . . .
. . . includes this camouflaged tower seen just to the right of the peak of the hill. Over longer distances, elements that make the camouflaged tree obviously artificial are largely lost to the casual observer.
Finally, artificial pine trees often require maintenance, as their needles and branches break or fall off over time and in high winds. Poor manufacturing and/or installation may also contribute to needle loss. Communities that require camouflaged pines should obtain assurances that the facility will be maintained and repaired as required.