Landscape Lingo 1.0
In The Garden – By Stephen and Kristin Pategas
As landscape architects/designers we bandy words about, assuming our layperson audience is savvy to our technical jargon. While some words have become part of many people’s lexicon, we were recently reminded that many words cause puzzlement. Recently during the presentation of a landscape design to a client we described a proposed tree as an “understory tree.” The blank look we received told us an explanation was in order. So here is a selection of plant-related words defined.
Canopy/shade tree – These are the larger trees typically taller than 25 feet and are often seen as street trees.
Understory tree – These trees may grow in sun and/or shade. When shade loving they can nestle underneath canopy trees. They typically reach 15 to 25 feet in height and work well close to the house and in smaller planting areas.
Specimen/accent/ornamental tree – These are typically understory trees that due to their shape, foliage, or flowers are focal points that attract the eye.
Patio tree – A tree with a smaller stature and usually without messy fruit to use near seating areas.
Shrub – Look for woody stems and a variety of heights from about two feet to 15 to 20 feet when they may be considered an understory tree. You may call a shrub a bush, although typically a bush is a shrub found in the woods.
Groundcover – This plant reaches heights up to about two-feet. It may reach a certain spread, form a clump, or travel to form a mass. Some low shrubs are used as groundcovers.
Vine – Climbs on a fence, trellis, arbor, or pergola and may scramble up a tree to reach sunlight. Also, may be spreading to use as a groundcover. Confederate jasmine is one vine (also known as a liana) that is used on a trellis and as a groundcover.
Ornamental grass – Ornamental grasses typically have either a spreading habit or a clumping habit. They also have varying heights and leaf textures. For lower maintenance, select clumping ones so they stay in one place. If they sprout somewhere else when a seed germinates., dig it up and pot it to get a free plant.
Perennial – Perennials last for several years or longer.
Annual – Annuals typically last for less than one year. In Central Florida, depending upon the weather, you may need to replace them three or four times a year.
Turf/turfgrass – Turf is typically called sod when it is specified for installation. It becomes a lawn when it is used around buildings. Call it turf when it’s used on sports fields.
Meadow – A meadow is a generic term for an open area in which a variety of grasses and wildflowers are allowed to grow tall and flower. While found in nature, they may be intentionally used to replace areas of lawn. Meadows of any size, support pollinators and other wildlife.
Now armed with additional knowledge, your garden awaits you.
Hortus Oasis (FL26000315) in Winter Park is a boutique garden design company specializing in residential, commercial and specialty gardens. Stephen is a registered landscape architect and Kristin is a certified landscape designer. Contact them at 407-622-4886/ firstname.lastname@example.org and visit www.houzz.com/pro/hortusoasis/__public.
Credit: All photography by Stephen G. Pategas/Hortus Oasis unless otherwise notedby