Complete Landscape Architecture
Design Glossary | O-R

landscape architecture design glossary

Use this landscape architecture design glossary to find what you need.




Obelisk: An obelisk is a four sided, upright and tapered pillar ending in a pyramid. Obelisks may be plain or inscribed and are often placed in the center of decorative pools, at the end of terraced walkways, or at the crowns of hills.

Open Space: A open space refers to either a mostly clear or forested section of land in or just near a city that’s free of buildings and developments. An example of an active open space would be a baseball field and a passive open space would be a natural woodland park.

Orangery: An orangery is a large, windowed building used to house orange trees during the colder winter months before the potted trees can then be moved back outside again.

Order: In architecture, order is the term used to describe one of five classical formulas that consist of bases, columns, and entablatures that is most often defined in the column’s capital. Orders are grouped by the most understated to the most elaborate and range from the plain Doric and Tunic to the leafy Corinthian, the scrolled Ionic, and finally, the most decorative, Composite, which is a combination of both Corinthian and Ionic orders.

Ornament: An ornament is a non-structural type of decoration such as a frieze on an entablature.


Parapet: A parapet is a protective railing or low wall lining the edge of embankments, roofs, or walkways.

Parks and Recreation Planning: Landscape architects often work in parks and recreation planning creating protected areas in either their natural or semi-natural states for the purpose of recreational enjoyment. Parks and recreation planning may involve designing separate areas for certain activities while assigning others for rocks, water features, flora, and fauna. Some of the different types of parks and recreational areas planned and created by landscape architects include national parks, which are reserves of land usually owned by the government, urban parks, maintained by local governments, and private parks owned by businesses and or individuals.


Parkway: A parkway is a stretch of road laid through a garden or park style of landscape and usually contains a median strip along with plant life along the side of the road.

Parterre: A parterre is designed with flowers to form patterns within flower beds or along pathways and is meant to resemble a Persian carpet. Literally translated from French, parterre means “on the ground.”

Pastoral: Pastoral is a term first used in the classical times of the Golden Age to describe the lowest level of formality, and in paintings, usually depicts the simple life of shepherds.

Patio: A patio is any area that is paved with materials including bricks, concrete, and stones to provide a place for entertainment or recreational purposes.

Patte d’oie: English for “goose’s foot,” a patte d’oie is three garden avenues that radiate outward.

Pediment: A pediment is an architectural structure that is either triangular or segmental in shape and sits atop a door, porch, or window. Open pediments have an open center along the top portion while broken pediments have a part of the center of its base missing or open.

Peristyle: Peristyle literally means “surrounded by columns” and is a term often used to describe a temple-like structure that is enclosed within a colonnade.

Piano Nobile: Literally meaning “noble storey” in Italian, a piano nobile is the first and main floor of a building that houses the most important, often used rooms.

Picturesque: Picturesque is a term used in landscape architecture as well as in the world of art in general that is used to emphasize the artistic principle of conveying a number of emotions ranging from the commonplace to the colorfully surprising.

Pilaster: A pilaster is a column that includes a base and capital that is set into the outer face of a wall and is always rectangular in shape.

Planned Unit Development (PUD): In zoning, a PUD is either a commercial or housing development comprised of individual units regulated all together as a whole.

Planning: Planning refers to the act of describing, finding, and illustrating design solutions in regards to landscaping and the development of land.

Plinth: A plinth is a slab or block on which a column, pedestal, or statue sits. A plinth may also be the bottom portion of stones used to support a wall.

Portico: Literally translated, a portico is a porch with the term being originated by followers of Palladio who first created this architectural style of design. Porticos consist of colonnades that are supported by pedimented roofs of varying heights and depths.


Quincunx: A quincunx is a grouping of five different objects, most often trees, placed in a rectangular formation with a tree at each corner and the fifth one in the middle. A quincunx is usually repeated throughout the landscape to create a larger pattern of trees.

Quoin: A quoin is a stone laid in a grouping to create angles and corners of a structure’s wall usually in contrasting material for an artistic effect.


Rampart: Ramparts consist of embankments that are usually topped with parapets that come together to create large, defensive fortifications.

Reclamation: A reclamation is an attempt at restoring land that had previously lost its fertility, functionality, and stability.

Redoubt: Smaller than ramparts, redoubts are defensive fortifications that can be used temporarily to reinforce permanent ramparts.

Reforestation: Reforestation is the act of replanting and restocking existing woodlands or forests that have been depleted for some reason, usually by human use. Reforestation has finally been acknowledged as a solution to important problems such as global warming, reducing the number of endangered species, saving the rainforests, and protecting ecosystems.

Regional Planning: A branch of land use planning, which is a public policy that aims to make the best use of land both efficiently and ethically, regional planning deals with efficiently placing and dictating land use activities and infrastructures across a significantly large portion of land, such as that adjacent to a separate city or town.

Retaining Walls: Retaining walls are structures built to support soil or water and prevent either from advancing forward.

Re-vegetation: Either through a natural or artificial process, re-vegetation is the act of rebuilding and replanting soil on landscape that’s been disturbed or damaged in some way, whether it be because of wildfires, mining, flooding, or other natural or man-made causes. The colonization of plants is an example of natural re-vegetation while artificial or man-made re-vegetation is a more accelerated process with the same end goal.

Rococo: First used in the early 1800s, Rococo is an artistic style that is characterized by color, energy, and playfulness. This style was replaced by the stern, harder lines of neoclassicism.

Rotunda: A rotunda is a hall or domed building that is always circular in shape.

Rustication: Rustication is a rough finish created either naturally or artificially on the surface and joints of stones, blocks or masonry. Rustication is often used on the fronts of Palladian structures.