Landscaping terms to know

By Dudley Wooten - PDT Columnist



As we bid landscaping installation, much conversation transpires. Many terms come up and you and I should both know these horticultural terms. Here are some common words we may need to know.

ASPECT – Orientation of the garden (N.S.E. Or West)

ASYMMETRICAL DESIGN – Plants on either side of garden don’t match.

SYMMETRICAL DESIGN – Plants on either side of garden “mirror” each other.

CHLOROSIS – A “chlorotic” plant will have yellow leaves and have either an iron or magnesium deficiency.

CULTIVAR – This is a plant that has been genetically produced by breeders and won’t reproduce itself from seed. The plant industry will reproduce and patent it by cutting, grafting, and budding.

DECIDUOUS – A tree or shrub that loses its leaves in fall. (as opposed to evergreen)

ERICAEOUS – Acid-loving plants needing a pH below 6.5 (example: rhododendron, azalea, etc

GENUS – The plant category between family and species (example: Tulip poplar – family genus – species would be magnolia – lirodendron – tulipifera.)

HARDY – Able to withstand year round climate (heat, cold, humidity, etc.) This will vary with geographic latitude and altitude.

HERBACEOUS – A plant that’s non-woody it dies back in winter and returns in the spring. This is a term usually applied to perennials, (The roots live year around)

HYBRID – The offspring of two genetically different parents. The mule is a good example. This hybrid is sexually reproduced from a Jack and a mare, while cultivars are assexually reproduced with plant cuttings and budding.

MULCH – The material applied to the top of the landscape bed to suppress weeds and retain moisture. The most common would be wood bark or stone.

NUTRIENTS – The minerals that produce compounds required for plant growth. Any balanced fertilizer will contain N.P.K. (This is Nitrogen CDK, green and fast growth). Phosphorous (rooting) and Potash (hardiness and vigor)

PERENNIAL – Any plant that lives more than 3 years (as opposed to annual that dies after one growing season.) These are herbaceous plants (daylily) and woody plants (trees/shrubs).

PH – A measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. The scale goes from 1 -7 in acidity and from 7 – 14 in alkalinity.

RHIZOME – An underground stem that produces a new plant. It’s how bluegrass thickens a lawn as it “pops up” new grass from it’s existing roots.

SPECIES – Will reproduce from seed. It’s the scientific name that comes after family and genus. Example – common name – white oak – family – genus – species is beech – Quercus – Alba – Alba is this species of oak in the beech family. – If we were talking red oak, it would be Beech – Querus – Rubra – (in Latin Rubra is red and alba is white.)

TOPIARY -High maintenance shrubs that are constantly sheared to shape as balls, animals, etc.

TOP SOIL – The soil on top (by definition). Beware of the topsoil that was just on top. It should have humous and fertility without clay. Shredded topsoil is one of the labor saving issues of today’s landscape world.

TRANSPIRATION – Loss of water through the plant leaves (similar to evaporation of water from soil).

TREE – By definition, it’s a woody plant with a well defined trunk and head. This means that a shrub pruned as one head on one upright stem is a “tree form”.

WOODY PLANT – Not herbaceous (perennial) – returns and grows each year (trees and shrubs)

Hopefully, this abbreviated glossary of horticulture terms will help us all talk the talk and walk the walk as we meander through this Garden of Eden we call Southern Ohio landscape.


By Dudley Wooten

PDT Columnist

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.

Dudley Wooten is the owner/operator of Wooten’s Landscaping and Nursery and can be contacted at 740-820-8210.