Landscaping Glossary

Definitions of Terms Used in Hardscape, Horticulture

Image of vine-covered pergola.
Learn what makes a pergola different from an arbor. David Beaulieu

Landscaping is a diverse field that encompasses sub-fields such as landscape design, botany, soil science, plant care (arboriculture, etc.), carpentry (building decks, pergolas, etc.), masonry, and pest control. DIY'ers researching any of these fields for help with a landscaping project will encounter terms with which they may be unfamiliar. Yet knowing the meanings of such terms is essential if they are to achieve the best results in their DIY projects.


For example, if you are researching plant X to determine whether it is something you would like to grow, and you find a description that says it is a "biennial," you will get more out of the plant description if you understand what that term means. Understanding a plant description more completely allows you to make a more informed choice in your plant selection. Once you know what a biennial is, you may decide that it's not the right plant for you to grow in a particular spot.

Having some knowledge of soil science will help you grow your plants more successfully after you have selected them. But soil science has its own distinct vocabulary. At a bare minimum, you will need to become comfortable with terms having to do with soil pH and soil amendments (compost, etc.).

Getting plants to grow well is one thing; caring for them is another. Learning terms such as "girdling" will help you avoid costly mistakes when caring for your trees.

When hiring professionals to do such work, it is important to realize the difference between pollarding and topping. 

Once you have become adept at growing plants successfully and caring for them, you may wish to try your hand at designing with them. For that, you will want to become familiar with the terms used in landscape design, such as "focal point" and "texture."

Moreover, when researching hardscape projects, you will come across specialized terms. Do you know how an arbor differs from a pergola? In building a concrete patio or walkway, you will need to find out why a "control joint" is essential and what a "float" tool is used for. Before trying your hand at building a deck, learn about girders and header boards.

Landscaping Word Definitions: A to C


Landscaping Word Definitions: D to H



Landscaping Word Definitions: I to N



Landscaping Word Definitions: O to S



Landscaping Word Definitions: T to Z