The City of Columbia maintains a Landscape & Tree Ordinance in order to protect and enhance the City’s greenscape. It requires landscaping between dissimilar land uses, along public rights-of-way, and within and around parking areas. A minimum overall tree coverage based on tree diameter is required, which may be met with existing and/or new trees. Screening for loading, trash collection, display areas, and utility areas is required. 

Landscape plans are required for all new development and certain renovations and expansions. All landscape plans for sites having an area greater than one acre shall be prepared by a registered landscape architect. Landscape plans for sites having an area of one acre or less may be prepared by other design professionals with competency in landscape design when the design is incidental to their work.
Recognizing that trees and landscaping contribute to the public health, safety and welfare, the City of Columbia has set standards for landscaping and screening in the city. Among the benefits of trees, shrubs, and other plants are: improved air quality; beneficial climate modification; reduction of glare, noise, odors and dust; reduction of storm water runoff and flooding; screening of undesirable views; provision of buffers between incompatible land uses; shelter and food for birds and other wildlife; the psychological benefits of experiencing nature in the city; the aesthetic enjoyment provided by the diversity and dynamism of the planted landscape. Trees assist in the stabilization of soil, improve air and water quality, abate visual and noise pollution, and aid in energy conservation. Trees also provide welcome shade and beautify the urban landscape, softening the hard edges of buildings and paving. All of these benefits contribute to a higher quality of life, enhancing the appeal and economic value of both residential and business properties in the city.
This ordinance also contains provisions whereby the development and/or redevelopment of land may require a tree survey/inventory and a tree protection plan, if applicable. The purpose of the tree inventory is to determine the tree cover existing on the site prior to development in order to facilitate preserving as many trees as possible. A tree survey may be submitted in place of the tree inventory. For any of the following activities a tree protection plan or permit for tree work is required: construction, filling, demolition, grading, timber harvesting, paving, trenching, boring for installation. Tree Removal Permit application is located below.

For additional information regarding Landscape Plans please contact:
J. Scott Holder, ASLA, SITES AP
Land Development Planner
Planning and Development Services
1136 Washington Street - Second Floor
P.O. Box 147
Columbia, SC 29217
Office (803) 545-3218
Fax (803) 255-8935
Email: [email protected]