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GLOSSARY
Landscape Architecture Terms
For more information, contact Jeff Lofton, 202-216-2331, jlofton@asla.org

 

agronomy - The science and management of land, especially rural, agricultural land.

air rights - A type of easement granting permission to a constructor or developer to build over a street or structure.

American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) - A professional society that represents landscape architects in the United States and Canada and seeks to better the practice and understanding of landscape architecture through education, research, state registration and other programs.

base plan - In landscape architecture, an essential sheet showing site boundaries and significant site features, used as a basis for subsequent plan development.

building codes - Regulations specifying the type of construction methods and materials that are allowable on a project.

building (construction) permit - An authorization issued by a government agency allowing construction of a project according to approved plans and specifications.

built environment - The man-made creation of or alterations to a specific area, including its natural resources. This is in contrast to the "natural environment."

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) - A U.S. government agency charged with administering vast areas of public land.

CADD - Acronym for "Computer Aided (i.e., Assisted) Design and Drafting," a digital design process in which landscape architects use computers to help produce precise drawings and details for the construction of a project.

City Beautiful Movement - A popular social concern of the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries aimed at improving the appearance of urban areas through better planning and the addition of formal, romanticized public spaces and gardens.

contour - The form of the land. Contour lines are map lines connecting points of the same ground elevation and are used to depict and measure slope and drainage. Spot elevations are points of a specific elevation.

conservation - The protection, improvement and use of natural resources according to principles that will assure the highest economic or social benefits for people and the environment now and in the future.

conservation plan - A plan for conserving or protecting various natural or manufactured resources. Such a plan is used as a management tool in making decisions regarding soil, water, vegetation, manufactured objects and other resources at a particular site.

cost-benefit analysis - In landscape architecture, a study of the potential cost of site purchase, demolition and improvement in comparison to the income or other benefit to be derived from site development.

Council of Landscape Architecture Registration Boards (CLARB) - A coordinating agency formed in 1961 for state boards that administer licensing exams and maintain records for landscape architects to practice.

design - the creative illustration, planning and specification of space for the greatest possible amount of harmony, utility, value and beauty.

designed landscape - A site that might appear to be natural but has elements and features that were planned and specified by a landscape architect. Designed landscapes include Central Park in New York to the siting of buildings.

drainage - The running off of water from a land surface or subsurface, such as through sewers or natural means.

easement - The legal grant of right-of-use to an area of designated private property.

ecology - A branch of biology dealing with the relationship between living things and their environment.

environmental design professions - Landscape architecture, (civil) engineering, urban planning and architecture. Agronomy is also often included in this group.

environmental impact - The change to an area's natural resources, including animal and plant life, resulting from use by man. Some projects may require conducting of an "environmental impact study" before development can proceed.

environmental inventory - Record of an area's natural and man-made resources, including vegetation, animal life, geological characteristics and mankind's presence in such forms as housing, highways and even hazardous wastes.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - A U.S. government agency responsible for developing and enforcing regulations that guide the use of land and natural resources.

Forest Service - An agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, primarily responsible for planning and overseeing the use of national forest lands by private, commercial and government users.

grade - The slope of a plot of land. Grading is the mechanical process of moving earth changing the degree of rise or descent of the land in order to establish good drainage and otherwise suit the intent of a landscape design.

greenbelt - A strip of unspoiled, often treed, agricultural or other outlying land used to separate or ring urban areas.

ground water - Rain and snow water accumulated in the earth's porous rock.

hardscape - Elements added to a natural landscape, such as paving stones, gravel, walkways, irrigation systems, roads, retaining walls, sculpture, street amenities, fountains, and other mechanical features.

historic preservation - This landscape architecture specialization has evolved to encompass maintenance of a site in its present condition; conservation of a site as part of a larger area of historic importance; restoration of a site to a given date or quality; renovation of a site for ongoing use; and interpretation of a vanished landscape.

Housing and Urban Development, Department of (HUD) - Federal agency responsible for producing and managing many federally-funded public service programs, especially those affecting housing and public spaces.

International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) - A multinational organization of landscape architects whose purpose is the promotion of landscape design and planning.

land trust - A conservation group that maintains a revolving fund for quickly buying land that is in danger of being developed inappropriately or without regard to proper environmental considerations.

land use - Any designated use or activity on a piece of land.

landscape - Narrowly defined, the amount of countryside and/or city that can be taken in at a glance. Also, an area of land or water taken in the aggregate.

landscape architect - A professional who designs, plans, and manages outdoor spaces ranging from entire ecosystems to residential sites and whose media include natural and built elements; also referred to as a designer, planner, consultant. Not to be confused with landscapers, landscape contractors or nurserymen.

landscape architecture - The science and art of design, planning, management and stewardship of the land. Landscape architecture involves natural and built elements, cultural and scientific knowledge, and concern for resource conservation to the end that the resulting environment serves a useful and enjoyable purpose. Successful landscape architecture maximizes use of the land, adds value to a project and minimizes costs, all with minimum disruption to nature.

landscape architecture registration - In the United States, a certification of individuals entitled to use the term "landscape architect" or to practice landscape architecture or both, by means of examination and required degree and experience criteria.

landscape contractor - A trained builder or installer of landscapes, retained to implement the plans of landscape architects.

manipulation of space - In landscape architecture, the organization of areas of land for specific aesthetic or functional purposes. This can range from creating small backyard patios to huge urban plazas.

master plan - A preliminary plan showing proposed ultimate site development. Master plans often comprise site work that must be executed in phases over a long time and are thus subject to drastic modification.

multiple use - Harmonious use of the land for more than one purpose; not necessarily the combination of uses that will yield the highest economic return, e.g., a mix of residential and commercial developments in the same area.

national park - A large, public park, often highly scenic and isolated belonging to and operated by the federal government.

National Park Service (NPS) - An agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior charged with the planning and administration of all parks and monuments in the federal park system. The NPS is often referred to as the largest single employer of landscape architects in the United States.

natural resources - The elements of supply inherent to an area that can be used to satisfy human needs, including air, soil, water, native vegetation, minerals and wildlife.

new town - A 19th- and 20th-century planned community traditionally featuring careful mixes of housing, open space, commercial activity and recreation. Examples include Reston, Va., and Columbia, Md., in the United States, and Harlow and Stevenage in Great Britain.

open space - A relatively clear or forested area left untouched in or near a city. It may be active open space, such as a baseball field, or passive open space, such as an area of natural woodland.

parkway - A road laid through a garden or park-like landscape, usually with median and roadside plantings.

planned unit development (PUD) - In zoning, a housing or commercial development composed of individual units that are regulated as a whole.

planning - The illustration and description of problem-statements and large-scale design solutions that affect extensive areas of land; the anticipation of problems that will be encountered as human use and development of land continues.

reclamation - Any attempt to restore to beneficial use land that has lost its fertility and stability; most often applies to mining reclamation, such as the restoration of strip mines and quarries.

scenic easement - A legal means of protecting beautiful views and associated aesthetic quality along a site by restricting change in existing features without government approval.

site plan - A dimensioned drawing indicating the form of an existing area and the physical objects existing in it and those to be built or installed upon it.

softscape - The natural elements with which landscape architects work, such as plant materials and the soil itself.

topography - The lay of the land, particularly its slope and drainage patterns; the science of drawing maps and charts or otherwise representing the surface features of a region or site, including its natural and man-made features.

view - Narrowly defined, an extended view or prospect from a site which, many times, is as important as or more important than the site itself.

zoning - A legal form of land-use control and building regulations usually exercised by a municipal authority; usually involves setting aside of distinct land areas for specific purposes, such as commercial, educational or residential development.

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For a complete glossary of terms associated with landscape architecture, please refer to A Dictionary of Landscape Architecture by Baker H. Morrow, ASLA; Published by University of New Mexico Press, 1957.

 

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