Landscape Architecture
Design Glossary | A-C

landscape architecture design glossary

This landscape architecture design glossary lists important terms used by all professional landscape architects and contractors found in one easy-to-use location. Click on the letters below to locate the glossary terms of your choice or use the search box to search our site. This landscape architecture design glossary is the largest of its kind on the internet and is brought to you by the Landscape Design Advisor.

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A

Agronomy: Agronomy is both the management and the study of the science of land, most usually agricultural or rural land.

Air Rights: Air rights are easements that grant permission to companies or developers allowing them to build a project above and over an existing structure or street.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA): The ASLA is a society of professionals who represent landscape architects in both the U.S. and Canada. The American Society of Landscape Architects aims to convey a better understanding of the practice of landscape architecture through means that include education, research, and a variety of programs.

Arbor: Arbors are open frameworks, usually of wood or lattice, that are intended to create a shady area within a garden or landscape and often serve as trellises for climbing plant life.

Arcade: In landscaping, an arcade refers to several arches, which are most often created by a series of trees lining a walkway.

Arcadia: Used now to refer to the ideal landscape, Arcadia is a beautiful, peaceful region of Greece that is home to poets, philosophers, and shepherds and is also said to be the birth place of the art of pastoral poetry.

Architrave: The term architrave is used to describe the lower portion of an entablature. An architrave may also refer to the molding surrounding a window or door.

B

Baluster: A baluster is a short, vertical post used to support railings which come together to form what is known as a balustrade. Balusters and balustrades are often used along roof lines as well as on porches and staircases.

Baroque: Baroque is the 17th century style of art and architecture that is characterized by both the dramatic and ornate whether in reference to art, sculptures, or landscaping.

Base Plan: This important sheet details information such as site boundaries and other significant points of interest in regards to further development of the landscape or property.

Bastion: Bastions are projecting parts of ramparts and sections of certain types of fences used in landscaping.

Belvedere: In Latin, belvedere means “beautiful view” and in landscape architecture, the term is used to indicate a structure such as an open gallery with a roof or a gazebo situated specifically to allow for a beautiful view of the surrounding area.

Blueprints: This outdated term refers to the dark blue, white lined pieces of paper that were used by all types of architects, although not in the last four or five decades. Despite the lack of actual blueprints in landscaping projects per se, the term is still widely used by architects and contractors alike today.

Building Codes: Building codes are the regulations which specify the various materials and different types of construction methods that are allowed on a project.

Building Construction Permit: Building construction permits, or just building permits, provide authorization by some type of governmental agency and allow for the construction of a project as outlined by the previously approved specifications and plans.

Built Environment: Opposite of a natural environment, a built environment is a man-made creation or alterations to an existing site and all of its resources.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM): The BLM is a United States government run agency that is in charge of overseeing large areas of public land.

Blueprints: This outdated term refers to the dark blue, white lined pieces of paper that were used by all types of architects, although not in the last four or five decades. Despite the lack of actual blueprints in landscaping projects per se, the term is still widely used by architects and contractors alike today.

Building Codes: Building codes are the regulations which specify the various materials and different types of construction methods that are allowed on a project.

Building Construction Permit: Building construction permits, or just building permits, provide authorization by some type of governmental agency and allow for the construction of a project as outlined by the previously approved specifications and plans.

Built Environment: Opposite of a natural environment, a built environment is a man-made creation or alterations to an existing site and all of its resources.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM): The BLM is a United States government run agency that is in charge of overseeing large areas of public land.

C

Cabinet: A landscaping cabinet is a enclosure located at the end of a walkway that is created by hedges.

Capital: The capital is the very top of a pilaster or column and is decoratively carved or molded and will convey one of the five architectural orders or ancient styles of architectural design; either Composite, Corinthian, Doric, Ionic, or Tuscan.

Capriccio: Capriccio is a style of landscape painting that depicts the caprice or the whim of the artist who has painted architectural structures in unusual settings. A perfect example of capriccio would be a painting showing the Taj Mahal on Venice’s Grand Canal.

Cascade: A cascade is a display of falling water strategically arranged in levels or stages by using an informal rock formation, steps, or some other means of creating the cascading effect.

Champain: A vast and level expanse of open countryside without hills or valleys is referred to as a Champain in landscaping.

Champetre: Champetre is a painting term also used in landscape architecture to refer to a pristine, pastoral style.

City Beautiful Movement: Popular in the late 19th century and extending into the early 20th century, a City Beautiful Movement was a social project with the goal of improving the appearance and functionality of urban areas. Parks, gardens, and other public spaces were designed and added along with better planning practices to ensure the beautification of an area.

Clump: Clumps are clusters of plant life, most often trees, that are planted strategically in gardens to achieve some type of picturesque visual effect.

Coffer: Usually made of plaster, a coffer is one of several recessed ceiling panels.

Colonnade: A colonnade is generally used in a series of several that are positioned at certain intervals in order to provide support for the bottom of a roof’s structure.

Column: Cylindrical in shape, architectural columns are upright structural supports that are comprised of three parts, the base, shaft, and the capital. Engaged columns are partially embedded halfway into the wall located directly behind them.

Composite Decking: Composite decking is an artificially created material that, unlike wood, is resistant to fading and mold or mildew.

Computer Aided or Assisted Design and Drafting (CADD): CADD is a design process used by landscape architects along with other professionals involving the use of computers and digitally enhanced images to create precise, detailed drawings for a project.

Conservation: Conservation is the act of protecting and improving an area’s natural resources with the goal of creating the highest social and economic benefits both now and in the future.

Conservation Plan: A plan set in place with the goal of utilizing, protecting, and improving an area’s natural resources.

Contour: Contour refers to the shape and the way land is formed.

Contour Lines: Used for the purpose of depicting and measuring slopes and drainage points, contour lines are also map lines that connect two or more points along the same ground elevation.

Contract/Contract Document: The contract or contract document is the actual written agreement between the homeowner and landscape architect that outlines all of the terms and conditions of the project and may also include drawings or renderings.

Cornice: A cornice is either the uppermost portion of an internal or external wall’s molding, or it can also be the uppermost level of an entablature.

Cost Benefit Analysis: In the world of landscape architecture, cost-benefit analysis is the study of the potential costs of purchasing a site, demolishing structures on that site, and then making the needed improvements all in comparison to income figures or other benefits to possibly be had from developing on that particular site.

Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (CLARB): The CLARB is a coordinating agency that was formed in 1961 to assist state boards who were responsible for administering the licensing exams for landscape architects as well as maintaining and updating their records and information.

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