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Glossary of Terms – Landscape

Aeration

Refers to the extent of air gaps in soil in order to control lawn thatch, reduce soil compaction and improve soil drainage.

Aeration also commonly refers to the process of using mechanized equipment to either puncture the soil with spikes (spike aeration) or remove approximately 1″ X 2″ cores of soil from the ground (core aeration). Spike aeration involves the use of an aeration machine with spikes up to a foot or more in length. Spike aeration is sometimes used to address drainage issues in areas with turf. Core aeration is done on turf areas as a means of reducing turf compaction, reducing thatch buildup, improving the infiltration of water/nutrients, and creating an environment where grass seed can have direct contact with the soil.

Aaeration can make a measurable difference in the long-term health or quality of a turf.

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Annual

A plant that usually germinates, flowers, and dies in a year or season. True annuals will only live longer than a year if they are prevented from setting seed.

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Bacterial Blight

Leaf blights cause small black angular spots; large, irregular, brown spots form on leaves. Blossom and tip dieback, vein blackening, leaf spots, or stem cankers are common symptoms on Oleanders. If the disease is systemic or cankers appear on the trunk, the tree will probably die and should be removed. If the disease is confined to leaves, damage is not usually serious and trees normally recover. Sprays do not give reliable control.

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Burlap bags

Typically a 60-by-60-inch (offered in various sizes though) landscape burlap sheet that is biodegradable and can be used over and over to collect grass clippings and others types of green waste.  An eco-friendly way of collecting green waste instead of using nondegradable plastic bags.

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Cobblestone

A type of naturally rounded landscaping stone with typical sizes, smaller than a boulder but larger than a pebble. Cobblestones are ideal landscape pavers, being widely used to build pathways and pavements.  Cobblestones are fireproof, need little maintenance and bears no paint. Cobblestone is also sturdy and durable. Cobblestone pavements can withstand the pressure from even a semi truck. Comparing to other types of landscaping stones, installations of cobblestone pavers are fairly easy.

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Deciduous

Means falling off at maturity or tending to fall off and is typically used in reference to trees or shrubs that lose their leaves seasonally and to the shedding of other plant structures, such as petals after flowering or fruit when ripe. In a more specific sense, deciduous means the dropping of a part that is no longer needed, or falling away after its purpose is finished. In plants it is the result of natural processes.

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Decomposed Granite

Also abbreviated as DG, decomposed granite is a paving material used for certain areas such as paths, trails, walkways and driveways.  In contrast to other materials, such as concrete, it provides a more natural appearance. Depending on how it is used, it may be more or less expensive than concrete.

Decomposed granite is made of very small pieces of granite. The sizes can range from a maximum of 1/4″ to a sandy consistency. It is a fairly fine mixture, as opposed to other materials.

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Dormant

A period in an organism’s life cycle when growth and development is temporarily stopped. In plant physiology, dormancy is a period of arrested plant growth. It is a survival strategy exhibited by many plant species, which enables them to survive in climates where part of the year is unsuitable for growth, such as winter or dry seasons.

Plant species that exhibit dormancy have a biological clock that tells them to slow activity and to prepare soft tissues for a period of freezing temperatures or water shortage. After a normal growing season, dormancy can be brought on by decreasing temperatures, shortened day length, or a reduction in rainfall.

 

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Fertilizer

Soil amendments applied to promote plant growth; the main nutrients present in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (the ‘macronutrients’) and other nutrients (‘micronutrients’) are added in smaller amounts. Fertilizers are usually directly applied to soil and also sprayed on leaves (‘foliar feeding’).

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Formal Pruning

A type of specialized pruning, which relies on a good straight eye and excellent technique.  Formal Pruning can be a continuous job during the growing season.

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Green Waste

Biodegradable waste that can be composed of garden or park waste, such as grass, flower cuttings or hedge trimmings.

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Herbicide

A substance used to kill unwanted plants.

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Horticulture

The industry and science of plant cultivation, including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings.

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Mulch

A protective cover placed over the soil, primarily to modify the effects of the local climate, reduce water loss, reduce weed growth and increase organic material in the soil as it decomposes.  A wide variety of natural and synthetic materials are used.

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Natural Pruning

Working with the natural shape of the plant material to retain it’s intrinsic beauty, assume it’s natural growth habit, while maximising plant health.  Also best suited for a low-maintenance landscape.

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Oleander Leaf Scorch

A lethal disease of Oleanders that was first noticed in southern California in the early 1990s. Symptoms can be expressed year-round, although they may be more noticeable in late spring and summer; they develop more quickly in warm weather. Leaves on one or more branches may yellow and begin to droop; soon the margins of the leaves turn a deeper yellow or brown, and the leaves eventually die. As the disease progresses, more branches of the plant are affected and the plant dies. Symptoms are much more severe and develop more rapidly in hot interior valleys than in cooler coastal areas.

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Overseeding

The act of sowing seed over existing grass. In Southern California this is typically done in the fall months, when the warm season grass goes dormant, in order to provide green turf throughout the winter. 

By sowing annual or perennial ryegrass seeds (cool-season grass) over the warm season grass (Bermuda, Kikuya, etc.), it will provide a green carpet during the Southern winter, thriving in the cool temperatures. Just as importantly, annual ryegrass will die back when summer’s heat returns, exiting in time for warm-season grasses to take center-stage again.

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Perennial

A plant that lives for more than two years. Within horticulture, this applies specifically to winter hardy perennial herbaceous plants.

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Pesticide

Any substance or mixture of substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.  Pests include insects, plant pathogens, weeds, molluscs, nematodes (roundworms), and microbes that destroy property, spread disease or are a vector for disease or cause a nuisance.

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Post-emergent Herbicide

Applied after the crop has emerged.

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Pre-emergent Herbicide

Applied to the soil before the crop emerges and prevent germination or early growth of weed seeds.

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Pruning

An arboricultural practice involving the selective removal of parts of a plant. This practice usually entails removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, or otherwise unwanted tissue from a plant, such as branches, buds, or roots.

Reasons to prune plants include deadwood removal, shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of flowers and fruits.

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Scalping

The act of mowing turf very low to the ground.  Within Southern California, this is normally performed in the fall months on warmer season grasses, such as Bermuda and Kikuya, to eliminate thatch and to facilitate the application of perennial ryegrass seed (also known as ‘overseeding’).

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Soil

A natural body consisting of layers (soil horizons) of mineral constituents of variable thicknesses, which differ from the parent materials in their morphological, physical, chemical, and mineralogical characteristics.

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Soil Compaction

Makes it difficult for grass to root and it disturbs natural rainwater irrigation.

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Stool cut

The act of cutting down plant material to near ground level in order for it to grow back with health and vigor.

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Thatch

A layer of dead organic tissue that deprives the turf of much-needed oxygen.

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Turf

An area of grass maintained for decorative or recreational use.

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Weed

A plant that is considered by the user of the term to be a nuisance and normally applied to unwanted plants in human-made settings such as gardens, lawns or agricultural areas, but also in parks, woods and other natural areas. More specifically, the term is often used to describe native or nonnative plants that grow and reproduce aggressively.  Generally, a weed is a plant in an undesired place.

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