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Landscape architecture is the design and planning of outdoor spaces and involves a wide range of terms and concepts.


Here are some commonly used terms in landscape architecture:

1) Avenue

  • A wide road or pathway lined with trees on either side.

2) Buffer

  • The use of landscape elements to reduce or curtail view, sound or dust with plants or earth berms, wall etc.

3) Canopy/Tree canopy

  • The average horizontal spread of the tree, taken from dripline to dripline.

4) Climber

  • A woody or herbaceous plant which either clings to a wall, trellis or other structures or can be supported or trained as it grows.

Note – It is sometimes also called creeper or vine.

5) Columnar

  • A slender, upright plant form.

6) Contour

  • The form of the land, existing or proposed; a part of the topography, indicated by map lines at intervals, to understand the landform clearly. 
  • The contour line is imaginary and indicates continuous elevation above mean sea level or an assumed datum line.

7) Contour Interval

  • The difference in elevation or the vertical distance measured between consecutive contour lines.

8) Drainage

  • Drainage is the natural or artificial removal of surface and subsurface water from an area through use of vegetated/open channel, pipes, drain boards, chambers, etc.

9) Egress

  • A way out, or exit.

10) Elevation

  • A contour line or notation of relative altitude with respect to a benchmark, useful in plotting existing or proposed feature.

11) Erosion

  • Wearing a way of soils, rocks, sediments, etc., by gradual action of natural processes (such as water, wind and glacier).

12) Exotic

  • A plant that is not native to the area in which it is planted.

13) Fence

  • A barrier of plant or construction material used to define the boundary of an area and to restrict visual and/or physical access.

14) Foliage

  • The collective leaves of a plant or plants.

15) Geogrid

  • A deformed or non-deformed netlike polymeric material used with foundation, soil, rock, earth, or any other geotechnical engineering-related material as an integral part of the human made project structure or system.

16) Geo-Textile

  • Any permeable textile or fabric (natural or synthetic) used to retain or protect soil and filter and drain water as an integral part of project, structure or system such as terrace garden, etc.

17) Girth of Tree

  • Girth is a measurement of the circumference of the trunk of a tree, measured perpendicular to the axis of the trunk. It is measured at breast height (1.4 m above ground level).

18) Grade

  • The slope or lay of the land as indicated by a related series of elevations.

19) Natural Grade

  • Grade consisting of contours of unmodified natural landform.

20) Finished Grade

  • Grade accomplished after landscape features are installed and completed as shown on plan as proposed contours or spot levels.

21) Gradient

  • The degree of slope of a pipe invert or road or land surface.
  • The gradient is a measure of the slope height as related to the length. 
  • The slope is expressed in terms of percentage or ratio.

22) Grading

  • The cutting and/or filling of earth to establish finished contours.

Note– Grading facilitates good drainage and shapes land to suit the intent.

23) Grasses

  • Plants that characteristically have joint stems, sheaths and narrow blades (leaves).

24) Grass Paver

  • Grass paver is a permeable structural grid cellular system (concrete, HDPE or any other polymer) for containing and stabilizing gravel or turf.

25) Green Roof

  • A roof surface of a building that is partially or completely covered with a growing medium and vegetation. 
  • Green roofs can be deep (intensive) or shallow (extensive).

Note Intensive green roofs are elevated greens which can sustain shrubs, trees, walkways and benches with their complex structural support, irrigation, drainage and root protection layers. Extensive green roofs are shallow, relatively light and are solely used for their environmental benefits. They support native ground cover that requires little maintenance.

26) Green Walls

  • A supporting structure completely or partially covered with vegetation which is grown with soil or growing medium. 
  • It can be either free standing or part of a structure. 
  • They include climbing plants such as vines that grow directly on the wall, or walls that comprise of modular panels, containers and an integrated irrigation system.

27) Ground Cover

  • The planting material that forms a carpet of low height.

28) Hard Landscape

  • Civil work component of landscape development such as pavements, walkways, roads, retaining walls, sculptures, street amenities, fountains and other elements of the built environment.

29) Hardy Plant

  • Plants that can withstand harsh temperature variations, harsh wind, pollution, dust, extreme soil conditions, and can tolerate either drought or flooding.

30) Heat Island Effect

  • A phenomenon in which air and surface temperature of an area are higher than nearby areas due to the replacement of natural land cover with pavement, building, and other infrastructure.

31) Hedge

  • Shrubs or trees (usually of the same species) planted closely together in a linear configuration. 
  • A hedge may be pruned to shape or allowed to grow to assume its natural shape.

32) Herb

  • A plant with a non-woody or fleshy structure. Certain herbs are highly useful for cooking or of high medicinal value.

33) Ingress

  • A way in, or entrance.

34) Invert

  • The lowest inside point of a pipe, culvert, or channel.

35) Irrigation

  • The artificial application of water, to assist in growing and maintenance of plants.

36) Kerb

  • A concrete or stone or similar hard edging along a pathway, or along a road, often constructed with a channel to guide the flow of stormwater.

37) Microclimate

  • A local atmospheric zone where the climate (temperature, humidity, wind, etc.) differs from the surrounding areas. 
  • The term may refer to areas as small as a few square metres or as large as many square kilometres.

38) Mound

  • A small hill or bank of earth, developed as a characteristic feature in landscape.

39) Mulching

  • A practice of using a protective covering, usually of organic matter such as leaves, straw, placed around plants to retain moisture, improve soil conditions and prevent the growth of weeds.

40) Permeable Paving

  • Paving surfaces that reduce runoff by allowing rainwater to soak through the surface into the underlying sub-base where the water is stored temporarily before allowing it to seep into the ground or flow to the drains.

41) Plants

  • The living beings consisting of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, mosses, etc., typically growing in a permanent site, absorbing water and inorganic substances through their roots, and synthesizing nutrients in their leaves through the process of photosynthesis.

42) Endemic Plant

  • The plant which is found only in one geographic location on earth.

43) Invasive Plant

  • The species of plant which is not native to a specific location (an introduced species) and has a tendency to spread to a degree believed to cause damage to the environment.

44) Native Plant

  • A plant indigenous to a particular locale.

45) Naturalised Plant

  • A plant that is established as a part of the flora of a locale other than its place of origin.

46) Screen

  • A vegetative or constructed hedge or fence used to block wind, undesirable views, noise, glare and the like, as part of in landscape design; also known as “screen planting” and “buffer plantation”.

47) Sediment

  • The product of erosion processes; the solid material, both mineral and organic, that is in suspension, is being transported or has been moved from its site of origin by air, water, gravity or ice.

48) Shelterbelt

  • Shelterbelt is usually made up of one or more rows of trees or shrubs planted in such a manner so as to provide shelter from wind and protect soil.

49) Shrub

  • A woody plant of low to medium height, deciduous or evergreen, generally having many stems.

50) Soft Landscape

The natural elements in landscape design, such as plant materials and the soil itself.

51) Spot Elevation

  • In surveying and contour layout, an existing or proposed elevation of a specific point noted as a dot on the plan.

52) Street/Outdoor Furniture

  • Items of furnishing in outdoor landscape such as benches, trash receptacle signage, play equipment.

53) Swale

  • A linear wide and shallow depression used to temporarily store, route or filter runoff. 
  • A swale may be grassed or lined.

54) Topsoil

  • The uppermost layer of the soil.

55) Transplanting

  • Technique of moving a plant from the place where it is growing and replanting at another location.

56) Tree

  • A woody plant, generally taller than 2.00 m, with a well-distinguished trunk or trunks below the leaf crown.

57) Deciduous Tree

  • Tree that sheds all its leaves during a part of the year.

58) Evergreen Tree

  • Tree that remains green for most part of the year and sheds leave slowly throughout the year.

59) Tree Drip Line

  • The branch spread of a tree defined by the outermost circumference of a tree canopy where water drips onto the ground.

60) Tree Grate

  • A grille, installed at the base of a tree otherwise surrounded by pavement that allows the free passage of air, water, and nutrients to the tree root, but does not interfere with the foot traffic.

61) Tree/Plant Guard

  • The protection around a tree or plant to help prevent damage.

62) Xeriscape

  • A landscape that requires little or no irrigation or other maintenance.

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