Friday, January 28, 2022

Commercial Properties Landscape Buffers: Let’s Keep the Island Beautiful



It is well-known that Marco Island is naturally beautiful and not just for its beaches. Designated as a “Tree City USA” for five consecutive years, the landscape and trees are very important to all residents for the high quality of life standard on the island.

Appointed by City Council, the Beautification Advisory Committee’s mission is to advise them on the beautification of the community’s landscape that is consistent with the tropical character and natural beauty of Marco Island. This committee strives to educate residents about planting the right plants in the right place, irrigation with water conservation techniques and proper pruning and maintenance of landscape that equates to a cost savings overall. In recent months, with an increase in commercial development around the island, landscape buffers have been in the forefront of these discussions.

Seeing the need to increase awareness and compliance with the landscape requirements of the Land Development Code, the Planning Board and City Council have requested that the Beautification Advisory Committee, in collaboration with city staff, survey commercial properties for lack of landscape buffer and/or maintenance deficiencies.

In November, the Beautification Advisory Committee began these buffer surveys throughout the island. They will be looking for the landscape buffer requirements of the commercial properties adjacent to other commercial properties, adjacent to all residential, public use and golf course properties and, most importantly for public safety, adjacent to vehicular right of ways. Initial surveys documented that the hedges are trimmed too short, under the minimum 3-foot requirement and trimmed to harshly, leaving defoliated and sickly looking shrubs. There are also gaps and dead or missing trees and/or shrubs in some of the hedges

For example, the following are the minimum landscape buffering requirements pursuant to Chapter 30, Sections 30-441 through 434 (Go to for the entirety of the code) for a commercial property if it is adjacent to:

  • Residential single-family, multifamily or tourist, a public use facility (such as a park of golf course clubhouse, golf course or amenity center): A 15-foot wide, opaque within one year, landscape buffer maintained at six feet in height, which may include a wall, fence, hedge, berm or combination thereof; and trees spaced no more than 25 feet on center.
  • Commercial Property: Ten foot wide landscape buffer with trees spaced no more than 30 feet on center.
  • Vehicular Rights-Of-Way: The width of the landscape buffer varies depending on ultimate width of the abutting right of way. (See Code Section 30-441(g) for this determination.) The landscape within this width will consist of a double hedge row of at least 24 inches in height at planting and attaining a minimum of three feet within one year. One tree per 30 feet of the landscape buffer length is required. The remaining width of the right of way buffer shall consist of native vegetation, grass or groundcovers. Every effort shall be made to retain and incorporate the existing native vegetation in these areas.

The Beautification Advisory Committee and city staff thank and appreciate the business community for their cooperation in this project. If you receive a 30-day Courtesy Notice to correct a landscape buffer deviancy and have any questions regarding landscape requirements, plant species and sizes or any other inquiry regarding this project, please contact Nancy Richie, environmental specialist at the city of Marco Island at 239-389-5003 or


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