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Acceptable Drainage: When the drainage rate is sufficient for the plants to be grown. Not too fast and not too slow. Typical rates for installed planting soil are between 1-5 inches per hour. Turf soils are often higher, but drainage rates above 2-3 inches per hour will dry out very fast. In natural undisturbed soil a much lower drainage rate, as low as 1/8th inch per hour can still support good plant growth. Wetland plants can grow on top of perched water layers or even within seasonal perched water layers, but could become unstable in high wind events.

Aggregate: A broad category of coarse to medium grained particulate material used in construction, including sand, gravel, crushed stone, slag, and recycled concrete.

Amendment: Material added to Topsoil to produce a Planting Soil Mix. Amendments are classified as general soil amendments, fertilizers, biological, and pH amendments.



Backfill: To backfill is to fill in an excavated hole. It also refers to the material used to fill an excavated hole.

Balled and Burlapped Trees (B&B): Trees growing in field soil for at least 12 months prior to harvest. Same as Field Grown Trees

Biological Amendment: Amendments such as fungal additives, compost tea or other products intended to change the soil biology.

Botanical Name: Same as species, but it specifically refers to plants, algae, and fungi. Many plant species also have a cultivar which is a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Cultivars are usually designated in the style Cornus florida 'Cloud Nine'. See Species.

Bottom of Wall Elevation (BW): The elevation of the finished grade as a given point along a wall.

Boxed trees: A container root ball package made of wood in the shape of a four-sided box.


Caliper (Cal.): The diameter of a tree at breast height. This also refers to the instrument used to measure a trees diameter at breast height. Also see DBH.

Cement: A cement is a binder, a substance used for construction that sets, hardens, and adheres to other materials to bind them together. Cement is seldom used on its own, but when mixed with fine aggregate produces mortar for masonry, or with sand and gravel to produce concrete.

Clean Out: A clean out provides a convenient place to access drain pipes in order to clear clogs and debris.

Concrete (Conc.): A composite material that is typically composed of fluid cement and aggregate. The material hardens to produce a stone-like material.

Course Sand: A geologic term for sand with particles having a diameter in the range of 0.5 to 1 mm.

Common Name: In contrast to the botanical name, this is the name based on the language of everyday life. Flowering dogwood the is common name for Cornus florida, which is the botanical name. Some plants share the same common name, and some plants have a common name that varies by region, therefore using the botanical name is preferred for accuracy. 

Compacted Soil: Soil where the density of the soil is greater that the threshold for root limiting.

Compost: Well decomposed stable organic material as defined by the US Composting Council.

Container Plant: Plants that are grown in and/or are currently in a pot or other containers, including boxed trees. See pot.

Contour: Lines that express the topography of the site, each representing an elevation and displayed on the plan in contour intervals. A contour interval is the vertical distance or difference in elevation between contour lines. The closer the lines appear, the steeper the slope.

Contractor: A person or company that undertakes a contract to provide materials or labor to perform a service or do a job, such as landscaping and hardscaping.

Cubic Feet (CF): A unit of measurement based on the volume equal to a cube one foot on each side. It is commonly used to describe the size of bagged landscape products, such as bagged mulch, stone, or soil.

Cubic Yard (CY): A unit of volume equal to a cube one yard long on each side. This  unit of measurement is typically used when describing the amount of bulk material, such as mulch, soil, and aggregate.

Cultivar: A plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Cultivars are usually designated in the style Cornus florida 'Cloud Nine'. 

Culvert: A structure that allows water to flow under a road, railroad, trail, or similar obstruction from one side to the other side.



DBH: Diameter at Breast Height is the standard method of expressing the diameter of a tree trunk.

Drainage: The rate at which soil water moves through the soil transitioning the soil from saturated condition to field capacity. Most often expressed as saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat; units are inches per hour). 



Easement: Areas of land owned by the property owner, but in which other parties, such as utility companies, may have limited rights granted for a specific purpose. 

Existing (Ex.): When used to describe elements on the plan, it refers to any condition that exists prior to the start of design and construction work.

Existing Soil: Mineral soil existing at the locations of proposed planting after the majority of the construction within and around the planting site is completed and just prior to the start of work to prepare the planting area for soil modification and/or planting.



Fertilizer: Amendment used for the purpose of adjusting soil nutrient composition and balance.

Field Capacity: The amount of soil moisture or water content held in the soil after excess water has drained away and the rate of downward movement has decreased. This usually takes place 2–3 days after rain or irrigation in pervious soils of uniform structure and texture.

Field Grown Trees (B&B): Trees growing in field soil for at least 12 months prior to harvest. Same as Balled and Burlapped Trees.

Fine Grading: The final grading of the soil to achieve exact contours and positive drainage, often accomplished by hand rakes or drag rakes other suitable devices. 

Finished Grade: The surface or elevation of the soil after final grading and 12 months of settlement.

Flats: Trays of plants with built in cells. The quantity of plants in a flat may vary because flats come in different sizes. Standard flats can hold 18 square 3.5" or 4" pots, 6 six-packs of 2-inch starter plants (see plugs), or 12 six-packs of 1-inch starter plants. See Trays.



Gallon (Gal.): The traditional name for a plant container size, though only 3 quarts so not truly a gallon. Container's are also referred to by number (#), so for example a 1-gallon container is the same as a #1 container. Typical sizes are #1,#2, #3, #5, and #7 but also come larger.

Graded Soil: Soil where the A horizon has been stripped and relocated or re-spread; cuts and fills deeper than 12 inches.



Hardscape: Hard landscape materials in the built environment structures that are incorporated into the landscape. This can include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, sleeper walls, stairs, walkways, and any other landscaping made up of hard wearing materials such as wood, stone, concrete etc.

Healthy Plants: Plants that are growing in a condition that expresses leaf size, crown density, color; and with annual growth rates typical of the species and cultivar’s horticultural description, adjusted for the planting site soil, drainage and weather conditions.

Height (ht.): The shortest distance between the finished grade and that which you are measuring. When measuring to plants, the height is the shortest distance between the finished grade  and the upper boundary of the main plant tissue (excluding flowers), expressed in feet in these documents.

High Point (HP): The highest elevation among surrounding elevations. They are shown on plans as a spot elevation with the abbreviation "HP". 

Horticulture: The cultivation, processing, and sale of fruits, nuts, vegetables, ornamental plants, and flowers as well as many additional services. This also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, soil management, landscape and garden design, construction, maintenance, and arboriculture.



Impervious Surface:  A surface that is covered by an impenetrable material such as asphalt, concrete, brick, stone—and rooftops. Compacted soils are also highly impervious. 

Installed Soil: Planting soil and existing site soil that is spread and or graded to form a planting soil.

Irrigation: A system used for the application of controlled amounts of water to plants at needed intervals. Irrigation helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall.



Kinked root: A root within the root package that bends more than 90 degrees.



Landscape: All of the visible features in an area of land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal.

Low Point (LP): The lowest elevation among surrounding elevations. They are shown on plans as a spot elevation with the abbreviation "LP". 



Maintenance: Actions that preserve the health of plants during and/or after installation.

Maintenance Period: The time period in which you or a Contractor provides maintenance.

Major Contour: These contours are displayed as bold, thicker lines that appear every x contour lines, typically it is every 5th line. See contour.

Minor Contour: Contour lines that exist at the desired contour interval, with the exception of those recoded to be a major contour. See contour.

Minor Disturbance: Minor grading as part of agricultural work that only adjusts the A horizon soil, minor surface compaction in the top 6 inches of the soil, applications of fertilizers, installation of utility pipes smaller than 18 inches in diameter thru the soil zone.

Mulch: Material (such as decaying leaves, bark, or compost) spread around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil.



Normal: When found in the Green Guide Specifications, it refers to whatever is the prevailing industry standard(s).

North Arrow: This is found on every plan for the purpose of conveying information regarding the orientation of the plan.



On Center (O.C.): This is shown in the plant schedule to describe how far apart to dig your planting holes for each specific type of plant. The measurement is taken from the center of the plant.



Ped: a clump or clod of soil held together by a combination of clay, organic matter, and fungal hyphae, retaining the original structure of the harvested soil.

Pervious: A surface that allows the percolation of water into the underlying soil. Pervious surfaces include grass, mulched groundcover, planted areas, vegetated roofs, permeable paving as well as porches and decks erected on pier foundations that maintain the covered lot surface's water permeability.

Plant Labels: The purpose of plant labels on the plan is to identify the name and quantity of each plant. A plant label may point to a single plant or a string of plants that are of the same species. Each label quantifies the labeled plant(s) and identifies the species with a two-letter code that corresponds with the species listed in the plant schedule.

Plant Schedule: A table that lists all of the plants in the design by their common name, botanical name, quantity, spacing, and size.

Planting Soil: Topsoil, or Planting Soil Mixes which are imported or existing at the site, or made from components that exist at the site, or are imported to the planting site to be placed within the planting hole.

Plugs: Young plants raised in small, individual cells in trays, ready to be transplanted into containers or a garden.

Poor Drainage: Soil drainage that is slower than that to which the plants can adapt. This is a wide range of metrics, but generally if the soil is turning grey in color it is preferable to either plant moisture adaptive plants at smaller sizes that are young in age with shallow root balls or look at options to improve the drainage

Pot: Plant pots that you get from the nursery are referred to by gallon (gal.) or number (#) to describe their size. Typical sizes for nursery container pots are #1 (7-8" Diameter), #2 (8.5" Dia.), #3 (10" Dia.), #5 (12" Dia.), and #15 (18" Dia.), but they also come in larger sizes. 4" pots are typically sold in flats of 16-18 each (see flats).

Property Boundary: A line on the plan that represents the boundary of the project site property.

Project Site: The property or portion of a property that is the subject of this design.

Pruning: This is a horticultural and silvicultural practice involving the selective removal of certain parts of a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots.



Reasonable and Reasonably: When used in this guide, it is intended to mean that the conditions cited will not affect the establishment or long term stability, health or growth of the plant. This guide recognizes that plants are not free of defects, and that plant conditions change with time. In many cases, a professional is required to determine when conditions within the plant may be deemed reasonable.

Right-of-Way (ROW): A parcel of land granted by deed or easement for construction and maintenance according to a designated use. This may include highways, streets, canals, ditches, or other uses.

Root Ball: The mass of roots, including any soil or substrate that is shipped with the tree within the root ball package.

Root Ball Package: The material that surrounds the root ball during shipping. The root package may include the material in which the plant was grown, or new packaging placed around the root ball for shipping.

Root collar (or root crown, root flare, trunk flare, flare): The region at the base of the trunk where the majority of the structural roots join the plant stem, usually at or near ground level.   



Scarify: Loosening and roughening the surface of soil and sub soil prior to adding additional soil on top.

Shrub: Woody plants with a mature height of approximately less than 15-25 feet.

Silviculture: The growing and cultivation of trees.

Slope: A surface of which one end or side is at a higher elevation than another. The slip is identified on the plan with an arrow and a percentage. The arrow always points downhill, and the percentage represents how steep the slope is. For example, a 3% slope means that for every 100 feet in distance, there is a 3 foot drop.

Soil Fracturing: Deep loosening the soil to the depths specified by using a back hoe. 

Soil Horizons: A layer of soil parallel to the soil surface, whose physical, chemical and biological characteristics differ from the layers above and beneath.

Soil Ripping: Loosening the soil by dragging a ripping shank or chisel through the soil to the depths and spacing specified. 

Soil Tilling: Loosening the surface of the soil to the depths specified with a rotary tine tilling machine, roto-tiller, (or spade tiller).

Softscape: The live horticultural elements of a landscape, which can include, flowers, plants, shrubs, trees, flower beds. Softscaping may refer to maintenance duties like weed/nuisance management, grading, planting, mowing, trimming, aerating, spraying, and digging for everything from plants and shrubs , to flower beds.

Species: The basic unit of classification of an organism, and is the same thing as a botanical name when referring to plants. A species name is derived from its genus and its specific epithet. For example, dogwoods all fall under the genus Cornus, but the specific epithet refers to the specific dogwood. Cornus sericea (red osier dogwood ) is a different dogwood than Cornus florida (flowering dogwood). See Common Name.

Spot Elevation: The elevation of a point on the plan, indicated by a plus/cross and accompanied by a number indicating the vertical distance of the point, in feet. Spot elevations may be used points higher or lower than their surroundings.

Square Feet (SF): A unit of measurement based on the area equal to a square one foot on each side. It is commonly used in describing material needed for flat surfaces such as stone or brick pavers, and veneers.

Square Yard (SY): A unit of measurement based on the area equal to a square one yard on each side. While it is sometimes used in describing material needed for flat surfaces, it is not very common.

Stem: The trunk of the tree.

Stem Girdling Root: Any root more than ¼ inch in diameter and currently touching the trunk, or with the potential to touch the trunk, above the root collar approximately tangent to the trunk circumference or circling the trunk. Roots should be considered as stem girdling that have, or are likely to have in the future, root to trunk bark contact.

Subgrade: Surface or elevation of subsoil remaining after completing excavation, or top surface of a fill or backfill, before placing Planting Soil.

Surveying: A blend of several disciplines, from mathematician and law scholar, to expert measurer and translator. By interpreting the legal description and applying the science of measurement, the surveyor translates a legal description or construction plans into tangible positions on the ground. These positions then become the basis for construction or for the establishment of a particular location, possibly to show lines of ownership or to document change over time.



Top of Wall Elevation (TW): The elevation at a point along on the top of the wall, and labeled with a spot elevation.

Topsoil: Naturally produced and harvested soil from the A horizon or upper layers or the soil as further defined in this specification.

Trays: A container shaped like a baking pan or casserole dish and used for growing plants. They come as open containers, or divided into smaller cells called plugs. Trays Dimensions vary, but are somewhat around 10"W x 21"L x 2 1/2"D.

Tree: Single and multi-stemmed plants, including palms with anticipated mature height approximately greater than 15-25 feet, or any plant identified on the plans as a tree.

Tree and Plant Protection Area: An area surrounding individual trees, groups of trees, shrubs, or other vegetation to be protected during construction, and defined by a circle centered on the trunk of each tree, with a radius equal to the crown dripline.

Typical (Typ.): This is used on the plan to label something that recurs throughout the plan. If something on the plan is labeled with this abbreviation once, then assume everything else like this has the same notes applied to it.



Undisturbed soil: Soils with the original A horizon intact that have not been graded or compacted. Soils that have been farmed, subjected to fire or logged but not graded, and natural forested land will be considered as undisturbed.



Vicinity Map: A map that illustrates the vicinity of your site in order to put your project in context with the surrounding areas. 



Wilt Point: The minimal amount of water in the soil that a plant requires to not wilt.

0.0 Glossary

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