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Top 33 Terms Used by Landscape Architects and General Contractors

Top 33 Terms Used by Landscape Architects and General Contractors

Below is a list of terms Architects and Contractors use often. Don’t see a term that should be on this list?  Send us an email and we will gladly add it in with a link back to the contributor.

  • Air rights – In real estate development, this refers to a right or an easement to the empty space above a property owned or leased. Property owners basically have air rights attached to the land or real property they purchase. As such, they can do developments above the land they own until they reach heights that are already covered by the government aviation authority.
  • Aggregate – This term refers to materials added to cement to produce concrete. Aggregates can be made of sand or crushed stones, tiles, and bricks.
  • Base plan – This is a plan, which could be a 2D illustration or a 3D rendering, presenting the boundaries and features proposed in a development project.
  • Building codes – These are legal policies or compulsory guidelines for construction projects in an area. These codes usually include the prescribed construction methods and the quality of the materials used in a project.
  • Building permit – A building or construction permit is a document granted by the government to signify permission for a construction project, indicating approval over the plan presented and the specifications of the materials to be used. A contractor or landscape architect cannot push through with a project without a permit.
  • Built environment – The opposite of a “natural environment,” this refers to man-made structures, fixtures, installations, and modifications in an area. A natural environment can be made into a built environment through alterations and additions.
  • Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) – CADD refers to the process of creating designs with the help of computers and software to come up with more precise and detailed representations of project plans.
  • Contour – This is a term used in maps or cartographic representations of an area. It refers to slope and irrigation or drainage sites.
  • Conservation – This is a quite common term but in landscape architecture, it more specifically refers to the implementation of principles for protecting, improving, and using natural areas that ensure the highest benefits for both people and the environment.
  • Conservation plan – A conservation plan is formulated to guide decisions pertaining to alterations, development, or removal of vegetation, water, soil, and other natural features of a site. It is a plan aimed at ensuring the conservation and protection of a site.
  • Cost-benefit analysis – Similar to how it works in other businesses, this type of analysis is undertaken to assess the potential cost and benefits of the purchase of a site and the subsequent developments and improvements to be made therein.
  • Design – This is the creative layout or arrangement, planning, and specification of objects that take into account the principles of unity or harmony, aesthetics, transition, and balance.
  • Designed landscape – This is the result or projected result of a landscape development project. It appears as a natural environment but actually involves significant additions, changes, enhancements, and other forms of human input.
  • Drainage – Drainage refers to a site feature through which water runs through. It is an important part of landscapes and built environments to avoid flooding or the prevent water from going to sites that should not be exposed to water for prolonged periods of time.
  • Easement – As mentioned in the definition of “air rights,” this refers to the legal right to use the empty area or space above a privately owned property, land in particular.
  • Ecology – This is a scientific term but it is commonly used by landscapers to refer to the relationship between living things and the environment where they live. In most cases, ecology refers to the natural environments instead of the built environment inside a house or building.
  • Environmental design – This is the process of dealing with environmental parameters when creating development plans or programs for making alterations or modifications in the environment. It is considered an applied art and science that focuses on the development of a human-designed environment.
  • Façade – This is the visible front section of an architectural work.
  • Grade – Grade is a term that is synonymous to the slope of land. Some sites need to be graded to prepare them for landscaping, to come up with better drainage.
  • Hardscape – This is a collective term used to refer to various objects or installations added to a landscape including walkways, pavements and paving stones, sculptures, garden installations, fountains, driveways, gravel or crushed stones, retaining walls, and lighting features.
  • Historic preservation – Historic preservation is an architectural specialization but it is also something that applies on landscapes. It focuses on the restoration and renovation of landscapes that have historical significance. It is aimed at bringing back the former appearance and beauty of a landscape architecture.
  • Land use – This term refers to the purpose assigned for a specific site or parcel land.
  • Landscaping or Landscape Architecture – Generally speaking, the term “landscape” refers to the expanse of scenery that can be perceived by a single view. In landscaper’s lingo, landscaping refers to the depiction of natural scenery through the creative and purposeful arrangement, removal, and addition of plants, hardscapes, and other installations.
  • Landscape architect – This phrase refers to the professional who specializing in the planning, designing, and management of landscaped spaces. Landscape architects can be involved in all the processes of landscaping or landscape architecture but they may also be limited to consultancy work only.
  • Landscape contractor – This is the person or company responsible for implementing the plans and designs of a landscape architect. However, a landscape contractor and landscape architect could be the same person.
  • Multiple use – In landscape architecture, this means the property of being usable for a number of purposes without the need to change form or structure.
  • Open space – As the phrase itself implies, open space means a piece of land that has no man-made structures on it.
  • Reclamation – Reclamation is the process of bringing back a site or land to its beneficial state. Land requires reclamation if it has lost its fertility or ability to support life, plant life in particular.
  • Scenic easement – A government-sanctioned action, scenic easement refers to the prohibition on making alterations or changes that can affect the views and aesthetic attributes of a site.
  • Site Plan – More detailed than a base plan, a site plan is a representation of a site that includes the objects that already appear on it and the new installations or structures that will be added or erected on it.
  • Softscape – As opposed to hardscape, softscape refers to the natural objects that are used in landscape design. This includes plants, shrubs, balled trees, soil, gravel, sand, crushed stones, and rocks.
  • Topography – This term refers to the physical qualities or description of land surface as well as the relations among its natural and human-built features.
  • Zoning – This is another term that has something to do with legal policies on land use. It dictates the kind of land use allowable for a particular zone or the sites classified under a zoning scheme.
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