Have you ever walked past a lawn dotted with little colored flags? Each one marks the underground location of a utility service, and it doesn't matter where you go-- in every state in America, the colors signify the same thing.
In Massachusetts, no matter how small the excavation project, whether you install a new mailbox or you plant a tree or shrub, you are required by law to get your property marked first. How realistic that gardeners always call Dig Safe when they move plants around in their yard? I don't know. I've not known any individual gardener who ever did that. But moving along...
The six New England states use a not-for-profit company called Dig Safe as the liason between property owners who wish to dig, and the participating utility companies with lines beneath the ground. Before you begin your project you must call Dig Safe by dialing 811 on your phone. Lines are staffed Monday through Friday from 6:00 am till 6:00 pm. Make sure you do this at least before 72 hours, excluding weekends and holidays, prior to the dig. Dig Safe will give you a ticket number as proof of your effort and they'll notify the utility companies to come out and flag your lines.
Utility companies are not required to participate with Dig Safe, although the vast majority do. In the event one of your providers does not belong to Dig Safe, you'll have to notify that company yourself. Here is a list of member utility companies.
And here are the various colors and what they mark. Note that white flags signify where the proposed dig will take place.
For more information on Dig Safe, click here. And for a brief look at how Dig Safe works, enjoy this Dig Safe Video.