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Landscape, Buffer, and Screening Requirements


Landscaping is intended to ensure attractive views of a property and to screen the amount of light and sound that may carry from one property to another. Landscaping also moderates temperatures of impervious areas, abates glare from parking lots, and helps filter automotive exhaust. These requirements also encourage the preservation of existing trees and their root zones.

The City of Hickory has developed a Landscaping Handbook that combines the relevant landscaping requirements from the Engineering Manual of Practice and Land Development Code. Sample landscape plans that illustrate the City of Hickory's requirements may be found using the Landscaping Handbook or Land Development Code. Contact the Planning & Development Division at (828) 323-7422 for questions related to landscaping, screening, and buffer requirements.

Parking Lot Landscaping

New parking lots must include landscape plans submitted with the site and civil plans when a new building permit is requested for non-residential and/or multi-family use, unless modified elsewhere in the Land Development Code. If a building is being expanded or renovated to over half the building's current tax assessed value, landscaping plans must also be included during plan submission.

For new development, each off-street parking stall must be within 60 feet of a tree. All required canopy trees planted in a parking lot must be at least 8 feet in height and 2 1/2 inches in caliper at the time of planting and have an expected mature height of 35 feet. All required shrubs must use a 3 gallon container and be at least 24 inches in height at the time of planting with an expected height of 30 inches within three years.

Chapter 9 of the Land Development Code contains the interior and perimeter parking lot landscape requirements. The Landscaping Handbook includes illustrations of interior parking lot landscaping and perimeter parking lot landscaping requirements, as well as, a list of recommended plant species to use.


Buffers and screens are used to reduce the impact of a use of land on adjacent areas, which are of a significantly different character, density, or intensity. A buffer consists of a horizontal distance from a lot line, which may only be occupied by screening, underground utilities, retention areas, and landscaping and fencing materials. Screens can be made from landscaping, fencing, berms, or combinations thereof. As with buffers, the more different the use of the adjoining property, the more dense the screen must be.

Article 9 of the Land Development Code also contains all screening and buffer requirements. The Landscaping Handbook contains illustrations of the three types of code required property line buffers as well.

For regulations related to fences that are not a part of a required landscape buffer, please review the accessory structures webpage.

Open Storage

The City of Hickory generally requires outdoor storage of materials to be screened from public view. Methods of compliance include relocating the materials, installing an opaque fence, or using landscape screening/buffering. Outdoor seasonal sales are exempt from screening requirements.

Chapter 6 of the Land Development Code details open storage requirements.


In conjunction with the adopted Sidewalk and Bikeway Master Plan, the City of Hickory requires that sidewalks be constructed as part of most new development projects. The developer must install an ADA compliant sidewalk along the frontage of the property or, if approved by the Zoning Administrator, pay a fee-in-lieu based on the city's fee schedule with the funds being dedicated toward sidewalk projects in the city.
Such sidewalks shall conform to the Engineering Manual of Practice and should be located within the street right-of-way. When location within the right-of-way is not feasible due to significant trees, severe roadside topography, conflicts with utilities, or other special conditions, the sidewalk may be located within dedications or easements provided by the property owner outside of the street right-of-way.

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