Xeriscape Glossary - Colorado Springs

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  • 1. Xeriscape GlossaryAccent Plant Any plant which, by its placement or characteristics, differs from thesurrounding landscape. Differs from a specimen plant in that a specimen will usuallystand alone. Accent plants are used to break up monotony, vary the height of shrubborder or direct attention to an area of the garden.Acid/Alkaline Soil Refers to the chemical makeup of a particular soil and is measured interms of pH. A pH of seven means the soil is neutral. A pH below seven indicates acidityand a pH above seven indicates alkalinity. Regions with light rainfall tend to havealkaline soils. Some plant species prefer a specific pH. Contact the State Extension Agentin your area for soil test kits and treatment recommendations. The Colorado StateUniversity Cooperative Extension Office in Colorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921.Adjusted Water Budget Quantity of water used to maintain a landscape based onevapotranspiration and area; adjusted to reflect an efficiency standard. See Water Budget.Annual Any plant which completes its life cycle - seed, germination, bloom, seed set,death - in one growing season.Aphid Soft-bodied, tiny (up to one-fifth of an inch) insects that suck juices from theplant stems and leaves. Damage includes: deformed leaves, flowers or fruit; wilting;weak plant; and plant death. Also called plant lice. Contact the State Extension Agent inyour area for treatment recommendations. The Colorado State University CooperativeExtension Office in Colorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921.Applcation Rate The rate water is applied to a designated area by irrigation.Measurement is in inches-per-area for sprinklers and gallons-per-area for drip irrigation.See Water Budget.Arid Climate Climate characterized by less than 10 inches of annual rainfall. 1Aspect The orientation - north, south, east, west - of a plants location. Aspectsignificantly influences the survival and growth behavior of a plant. See Exposure andMicro-Climate.Backfill Soil mix used to fill the plant hole after the plant is placed. Backfill oftencontains the excavated soil and necessary soil amendments. See Soil.Balled and Burlapped Nursery stock shrubs and trees sold with a large ball of soilaround the roots, wrapped in burlap to hold the rootball together, which acts as atemporary container until planted in the ground.
  • 2. Barrier Plant A plant, which by its characteristics would act as a barrier to pedestrianmovement. Plants in this group generally have thorns, a dense growth pattern, and/or cantolerate a planting treatment in which they would be planted very densely.Beneficial Rainfall See Effective Precipitation.Berm Mounded earth forms useful in screening views and providing a sense ofenclosure.Biennial Any plant that completes its life cycle in two growing seasons. The plantusually blooms, sets seed and dies in the second growing season.Biome An area generally defined as being controlled by climate and distinguished by adominance of certain types of plants and animals. See Life Zone.Botanical Name The genus and species names of a plant. See Plant Classification.Bract Modified leaves that grow just below the flower, flower cluster or inflorescence ofgrass spikes. In many cases the flowers are insignificant. Most flowers do not havebracts. Often bracts are green, but sometimes are colorful, such as bougainvillea andpoinsettia.Broadleafed A broadleafed weed is any weed that is not a grass. A broadleafedevergreen is a plant that holds its foliage year-round, but is not a conifer.Bud A flower bud develops into a flower. A growth bud is at the end of a stem or alongthe sides of a stem and will develop into new leafy growth.Bulb Fleshy scales that are actually modified leaf structures that store energy and protectthe developing plant, usually underground. Some are fleshy and some are paperycoverings. An onion is one example.Caliper Industry-standardized unit of measurement for determining tree size by trunkdiameter six inches above natural soil elevation.Catkin A pendulous, spike-like, often drooping, flower cluster. Catkins are either maleor female, and both can appear on one plant or each on separate plants.Chilling Requirement Refers to the necessary winter chill needed for some deciduousperennials, shrubs and trees to grow and bloom well. Chilling requirement is measured bythe hours for temperatures to remain below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.Chlorosis A condition in which a leaf appears more yellow than it should, especiallybetween the veins, while the veins remain green. Chlorosis is often caused by an irondeficiency in the soil. Contact the State Extension Agent in your area for soil test kits and
  • 3. treatment recommendations. The Colorado State University Cooperative ExtensionOffice in Colorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921.Classification An assignment of plants with shared characteristics to a system of sharedcategories. The categories descend in order from the most commonly shared traits to themore specific. The following example for Rosa woodsii, a woods rose native to Colorado,lists the main categories used in classification (there are numerous subcategories andgroupings):Kingdom: PlantaeDivision: SpermataphytaClass: AngiospermaeOrder: RosalesFamily: RosaceaeGenus: RosaSpecies: woodsiiClay Soil Refers to the atomic arrangement of minerals that form the structure of a soil.Clay soils are composed of extremely fine minerals, usually silicates of aluminum and/oriron and magnesium. In Colorado Springs, it is often iron. Clay soils have an affinity forwater and are dense, heavy and sticky.Common Name Plant names that are "made up." Common names are regional and maybe descriptive. Any given plant may have dozens of common names.Compaction See Soil Compaction.Complete Fertilizer A plant food consisting of all three primary nutrient elements -nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or (NPK). Fertilizer packaging has these threeelements listed as percentages, always in the same order - (NPK).Compost The end product of the decomposition process of organic materials. Used as asoil additive, not a nutrient, compost is an amendment that improves the structure of thesoil.Cone A coniferous fruit having woody, leathery or fleshy scales, each protecting oneseed.Conifer Plants bearing their seeds in cones or modified cone-like structures. Theseplants are often called evergreens, although this is not always the case. Examples wouldbe larch, juniper and pine.Consumptive Use See ET.Conversion Factor A mathematical relation generally used in reference to waterbudgeting. A decimal fraction used to convert inches of evapotranspiration to gallons
  • 4. (0.623) or to convert inches of evapotranspiration to 100 cubic feet of water (0.00083). 1See Water Budget.Cool Season Grass Grass that does not ordinarily lose its color unless the average airtemperature drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees C) for an extended period oftime. It grows actively in cool weather and more slowly in heat, and is not usuallydamaged by subfreezing temperatures.Corm Modified underground stem capable of producing roots, leaves and flowers duringthe growing season. Corms store nutrients in the solid center core. Gladiolus and crocusare two corm plants.Crown Injury Permanent damage to the leaf-bearing portion of a plant. In the ColoradoSprings region, crown injury is often caused by severe temperature changes, winterdesiccation, hail, insects or disease.Cultivar A hybrid name derived from cultivated variety and applied to a plant that hasoriginated and persisted under cultivation, as distinct from a species. 3 Its usuallydistinguished by the name in quotation marks Acer platanoides Emerald Queen. See cv.Cut Slope A landscape term describing the practice of creating level areas in thelandscape by cutting into a slope and adding a retaining wall. With this process, theleveled area is generally more stable than filling in to level the slope since the soil isalready compacted.cv. (pl.cvs) Abbreviation for an unknown cultivar. See Cultivar.Deadhead Removal of spent or faded flowers to improve the plant appearance andgenerally ensure a longer bloom time. Typically flowers and stems should be removed tothe next lowest node.Defoliation Refers to the unnatural loss of plant leaves. Defoliation may occur from avariety of environmental causes, such as wind, intense heat, drought, early frost,chemicals, insects or diseases.Deer Antler Damage Seasonal injury to tree bark and branches caused by deer rubbingthe velvet off their antlers. The rough bark edges and exposed inner layers of the trunkare more susceptible to disease and insects. Severe damage will kill the plant to below theinjury.Deciduous A woody plant that sheds its leaves before winter or drought dormancy. SeeHerbaceous.Drainage The horizontal movement of water across and through soil.Drip Irrigation The slow, accurate application of water to plant root areas with a systemof pipes and emitters usually operated under reduced pressure. 1
  • 5. Drip Line The imaginary circle drawn on the soil around a tree directly under itsoutermost branch tips. Moisture tends to drip from the tree at this point. The term is usedin connection with feeding, watering and grading around existing trees and shrubs.Effective Precipitation Rainfall that offsets evapotranspiration losses during a giventime period. Rainfall that enters the soil or remains on the foliage and is available forevapotranspiration, thereby reducing the withdrawal of soil water by the same quantity.Efficiency Standard A value or criteria that establishes levels or conditions of water usein the ornamental landscape. 1Espalier A tree or shrub trained so that its branches grow in a flat pattern against a wall,fence, trellis, etc.Establishment Period Length of time needed for a relocated plant to becomeaccustomed to its new location. New plantings in the Colorado Springs area require oneto five years of supplemental water to achieve establishment. See Supplemental WaterRequirements.ET The amount of water lost by plant foliage through transpiration and the surroundingsoil through evaporation which must be replaced by irrigation and precipitation. SeeWater Budget.Evaluation Rating See Research and Evaluation Procedures.Evaportranspiration See ET.Evergreen A woody plant that never loses all its foliage at one time. Foliage is retainedyear-round.Exposure A combination of the aspect - north, south, east, west - and the protection -walls, fences, other plants - influencing a plants habitat. Exposure significantlyinfluences the survival and growth behavior of a plant. See Micro-Climate.Fertilize In flowers, it refers to pollination; to fertilize a plant is to apply fertilizer.Fill Slope Describes the process in landscaping of leveling a slope by filling and addingretaining walls to level an area. Attention to compacting the soil in filled area is critical.See Cut Slope.Flower Effect An evaluation of the appearance of flowers on a plant. Scoring is basedon, but not limited to, color, intensity, quantity, quality, size, shape and contribution tothe plant as a whole. The visual effect of flowers. See Evaluation Rating.Foliage Leaves, bracts and needles.
  • 6. Formal As a gardening term, it is applied to flowers, methods of training plants, andstyles of garden design. A formal flower would be one in which the petals are regularlyoverlapped. Examples of formal plant training are rigidly and geometrically structuredespaliers and evenly clipped hedges. Formal gardens are those laid out in precisegeometric patterns.Foundation Planting A plant used to hide the foundation of a building.Genus pl. Genera The smallest natural group containing related but distinct species. 1See Species and Classification.Grading The process of adjusting the slope in a landscape area. Grading is "rough" toattain the general desired slope for drainage and "fine" to smooth out the surface forhardscape and plant materials.Ground Bark The bark of trees shredded or ground up for use as mulch.Habit The overall shape or appearance of a plant.Hardy Capability of a plant to survive in a given environment. See USDA Plant Zone.Heavy Soil See Clay Soil.Hedge A grouping of plants that forms a wall or screen. A hedge acts as a physical orvisual barrier.Herbaceous A plant whose stems and leaves die to the ground each year. All nonwoodyplants including bulbs, rhizomes, corms, tubers, annuals and herbaceous perennials. SeeHerbaceous Perennial A plant whose stems and leaves die to the ground each year andregrows stems and foliage the following growing season. See Perennial.Hopper-Burn The bronzing of leaves caused by leafhoppers injecting toxins into theleaf while feeding.Humus Decomposed organic matter of soil that no longer resembles the vegetable andanimal matter from which it originated. Often incorrectly referred to as any decomposingorganic material including sawdust, ground bark and manure.Hydrozone A landscape area or portion of a landscape area having plants with similarwater requirements. The area may or may not require irrigation. Also referred to as WaterZone.Indigenous Plants Plants native to an area and biome. Also referred to as Native Plants.See Naturalized Plants.
  • 7. Infiltration Rate The rate at which water permeates the soil.Inflorescence The part of the plant having more than one flower; a general term used todescribe the arrangement of the flowers. See Panicle, Raceme and Spike.Inorganic Materials not composed of living, or organic materials. Materials notcontaining carbon compounds.Introduced Plant A plant imported from another region. Survival depends on a similarclimate or has the ability to adapt to the new climate.Irrigation Efficiency The ratio of the volume of water required for a specific beneficialuse as compared to the volume of water delivered for this purpose. Commonly interpretedas the volume of water stored in the soil for evapotranspiration compared to the volumeof water delivered for this purpose. 2 See Water Budget.Landscape Water Requirements See Supplemental Water Requirements.Leader A main stem of a plant from which laterals are produced; a shoot growing at theapex of a stem or main branch. 3Leaf Mold Partially decomposed leaves that may be dug into the soil as an organicamendment.Leaf-Cutter Bee A solitary bee, resembling a honeybee, with strong jaws used for"cutting" leaves. Females cut round holes in the leaf, rolling cigar-shaped pieces todeposit eggs. Contact the State Extension Agent in your area for treatmentrecommendations. The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office inColorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921.Leafhopper A small (up to one-third of an inch) insect that sucks the juice from leaves,injecting toxins as it feeds, causing them to discolor, curl and turn brittle. Damage isoften referred to as "hopper burn." Weakened plants may become diseased and die.Contact the State Extension Agent in your area for treatment recommendations. TheColorado State University Cooperative Extension Office in Colorado Springs may becontacted at 719-636-8921.Leggy The overextension of stems between nodes, often caused by the plant "stretching"toward sufficient light and/or over fertilization.Life Zone Attitudinal or latitudinal biotic regions with distinctive flora and fauna,characterized by plant and animal biomes. See Biome.Light Soil A term sometimes used to describe a soil with large particles loosely packedtogether. See Sandy Soil.
  • 8. Lime Compounds mostly of calcium carbonates and other alkaline substances. Used inhigh rainfall climates to correct soil acidity problems. Not recommended in Colorado.Lodging A malady in which plant stems fall over and turn brown.Manure Animal excrement in varying stages of decomposition. Manure should be agedfor landscape use. Fresh manure is high in nitrogen and can have a high salt content,which can harm plant roots.Mass Planting Grouping of several of the same or similar plants to create a desiredeffect. Mass planting is used to create microclimates, define outdoor space, form abackdrop for foreground plantings or screen views.Meadow In geologic terms, a meadow is a lake that has filled with silt. In generallandscape terms, a meadow has come to refer to a level, open space with mixed grassesand perennial flowers.Micro-Climate An area influenced by natural or manmade features that alter theclimatic conditions from the general regional climate. The climate alterations mayinclude but are not limited to changes in temperature range, wind exposure, reflectedlight, shelter belts and precipitation rates. See Exposure, Reflected Light and Shelter Belt.Mildew A group of diseases caused by fungi and characterized by a white powder-likesubstance on the leaves. Often caused by poor air circulation around the plant or plants.Mountain Peat A sedge peat with no soil structure that can be detrimental to plantgrowth. In addition, the process of mining this peat endangers many rare plants and entireecosystems.Mulch A protective covering of various substances, especially organic, placed on theground around plants to reduce weed growth and evaporation of moisture from the soilsurface, and to maintain even temperatures around plant roots. 1Native Plants Plants originally from the area. Also referred to as Indigenous Plants. SeeNaturalized Plants Plants introduced from another locality, but thoroughly establishedin the area. Many plants that are thought to be native are in fact naturalized. Many weedsare naturalized plants. See Indigenous Plants and Native Plants.Naturalistic Planting Refers generally to the arrangement of plants and plant selection.Naturalistic plantings are characterized by groupings and forms reflecting how plantswould grow in an undisturbed environment.Non-Alkali Soil Acid soil with a pH below seven. See Acid/Alkaline Soil.
  • 9. On Center Industry-standardized term referring to the distance or spacing between thecentermost point of each plant.Organic Material Any material of organic origin, such as ground bark, spagnum peatmoss, compost, aged manure, which can be mixed into the soil to improve its condition.Panicle Generally used to describe any branching type of flowers. Specifically it is aninflorescence in which the flowers are formed on stalks (peduncles) arising alternately orspirally from the main axis. Each stalk is a raceme. 4 See Inflorescence and Raceme.Peat Moss A high-quality, organic material that is partially decomposed organic matter.Sphagnum peat is said to be the highest in quality, not to be confused with mountain peat.Perennial A plant that lives more than two or three years. Usually used in reference tonon-woody plants.Petiole The leaf stalk.pH The symbol, usually followed by a number, for the amount of acidity or alkalinity ofa soil determined by the standard solution of potassium hydrogen phthalate. SeeAcid/Alkaline Soil.Plant Classification See Classification.Plant Water Requirement See Water Requirement.Polymer Crystals Inorganic soil additives that retain a significant quantity of water,thereby making moisture available for future use by the surrounding vegetation. Contactthe State Extension Agent in your area for use and application recommendations. TheColorado State University Cooperative Extension Office in Colorado Springs may becontacted at 719-636-8921.Precipitation Rate Amount of water applied by an irrigation system measured in inchesper area or gallons per area.Raceme A flower head on which individual flowers are carried on short stems ofapproximately equal length and borne on an unbranched main stalk. 3Reclaimed Water Treated, recycled wastewater not safe for consumption. Also knownas non-potable water.Reflected Light Light that reaches a plant after bouncing off surrounding surfaces. SeeMicro-Climate.Rhizome A thickened, modified stem that grows horizontally along or under the soilsurface. An example is an iris.
  • 10. Rock Garden In landscape terms, a garden with rock outcroppings, low-growinggroundcovers and perennials. Rock garden plants generally prefer the hot, dry conditionsproduced by the surrounding rocks.Runner A slender stem sent out from the base of certain perennials from which a newplant forms. An example is strawberry.Saline Soil Soil containing soluble salts in such quantities that it can interfere with plantgrowth.Sandy Soil Determined by particle size. Sandy soils have large particles, are looselyarranged, and do not hold water.Schematic Planning See Step 4: Schematic Planning in the How to Xeriscape process.Semi-Arid Climate A climate characterized by 10 inches to 20 inches of annual rainfall.1 Colorado Springs has a semi-arid climate and receives 12 inches to 14 inches of annualrainfall.Shelter Belt Trees and/or shrubs planted in rows or groups to provide shelter and act asa windbreak to protect crops or ornamental plants. A shelter belt needs to be dense at thebottom to produce a good effect, as wind is blocked three feet from the bottom of theplants for every foot in height of the shelter belt. See Micro-Climate.Site Analysis See Step 2: Site Analysis in the How to Xeriscape process.Soil Generally the upper layers of earth in which plants grow. A good soil consists ofsand, organic matter, clay particles, air pockets and water molecules. The dominatematerial determines the soil composition and designation, such as sandy, silt, bentonite,clay or loam. Most Colorado soils require amendments to product healthy plant growth.Contact the State Extension Agent in your area for soil test kits and treatmentrecommendations. The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Office inColorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921. See Acid/Alkaline Soil, Saline Soiland Soil Amendment.Soil Amendment Organic and inorganic materials added to soil to improve texture,nutrients, moisture-holding capacity and infiltration rates. 1Soil Compaction Compression of soil that eliminates air pockets from the soil structure,resulting in the suffocation of the plant roots. Soil compaction may be caused by ongoingpedestrian traffic, one time or ongoing vehicular traffic, construction equipment orstorage of materials.Spade See Tree Spade.sp. (pl. spp.) Abbreviation for an unknown species. See Species.
  • 11. Species A group of plants having common characteristics, distinct from others of thesame genus. The basic unit in classification. A group of plants that will propagate amongthemselves but not normally with members of another group, and will breed true. 3Specimen A superb or unique plant; a plant with special qualities that would warrant itsuse individually in such a way to display those qualities.Sphagnum Peat Commonly sold under the name "Peat Moss." See Peat Moss.Spike A grouping of flowers consisting of a central stalk with flowers directly attached.Spittle Bug Young nymphs cover themselves with a white frothy mass of "spittle" andmay relocate on a plant several times before reaching adulthood. Adults resembleleafhoppers. Both feed on the sap of twigs and foliage. In Colorado Springs, they doserious damage to the plants but are mostly an aesthetic nuisance. Contact the StateExtension Agent in your area for treatment recommendations. The Colorado StateUniversity Cooperative Extension Office in Colorado Springs may be contacted at 719-636-8921.Standard Generally, a single, upright stem topped by a rounded crown of foliage.Stolon A stem that creeps along the ground, the tips taking root and forming a new plant.Stress A condition that places a plants health in danger. Common stresses are drought,too much water or too much heat or sun.Structural Planting Those plants that form the structure for outdoor spaces, such astrees, shrubs and plant masses.Sucker A strong, vertical shoot growing from below ground, often rising from the root.Supplemental Water Requirements Application of water in addition to naturalprecipitation needed to maintain the optimum health and appearance of landscapeplantings. See Water Budget.Swale A depression in grading used to carry water; a man-made "river" used to drain asite. To prevent erosion, a swale is often lined with rip-rap, or native grasses. Afunctional and ornamental swale is called a dry stream.Systemic Any chemical absorbed into a plants system. There are systemic insecticides,fungicides and weed killers.Taproot The main root growing straight down, like the root of a carrot.
  • 12. Tender Denotes a low tolerance of freezing temperatures.Terminal Branches/Growth The branches at the uppermost or outermost reaches of theplant where growth originates.Thatch Buildup of organic material at the base of turfgrass leaf blades that repels waterand reduces water infiltration capacity. 1Topdress To apply on the surface, usually referring to spreading organic material on thesurface of the soil.Topsoil Soil taken from the upper part of a site. Colorado Springs has a minimal amountof topsoil. It is more dominant in the Midwest and less-arid areas.Transplant Shock and Recovery The adverse impact of digging, relocating andreplanting, including plants from a planting container or balled and burlap stock, on aplants overall health and the length of time until it resumes normal growth. Althoughsmaller plant material does not provide immediate impact in the new landscape, it is lessaffected by relocation and resumes normal growth much sooner than larger plantmaterial. See Establishment Period.Tree Spade Specialized motorized equipment to dig and usually transport trees. Treespades come in a variety of sizes appropriate to different sizes and species of trees.Generally deciduous trees require a nine inch root ball for each inch of trunk caliper;evergreens require an eight inch root ball for each inch of trunk caliper. See Caliber,Transplant Shock and RecoveryTuber Swollen underground stem. A potato.Tuberous Roots Thickened underground food storage structure. Actually a root ratherthan a true tuber. The dahlia is an example.Turfgrass Grasses that, when regularly mowed, form a dense growth of leaf blades androots. 1Underplanting Planting one plant beneath another, as in ground cover beneath a tree.USDA Plant Zone National industry standard for classification of plant hardiness inclimatic zones defined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Site specificcharacteristics greatly influence which plants will survive in a certain location. TheColorado Springs area is designated as Zone 5.Use Analysis See Step 3: Use Analysis in the How to Xeriscape process.var. The abbreviation for a variety. See Variety.
  • 13. Variety A specific subspecies that will usually reproduce its unique qualities from seed.See Species and Classification.Warm Season Grass Grass that grows vigorously in warm summer months andgenerally loses its green color and is dormant in the winter if the average air temperaturedrops below 50 to 60 degrees Farenheit. Some warm season grasses may die if exposed tosubfreezing temperatures for extended periods.Water Requirement Water lost from the soil around a plants roots due toevapotranspiration. 1Water Zone See Hydrozone.Woody Deciduous See Deciduous.Winter Interest Plants that provide texture, color or other visual effects through leaves,fruit, bark charecteristics and other means that enliven the winter landscape.Xeriscape™ Xeriscape is an attractive, sustainable landscape that conserves water and isbased on sound horticultural practices. The term is trademarked by Denver Water.Zone See Water Zone, USDA Plant Zone and Life Zone.Bibliography1 Bennett, Richard E. and Michael S. Hazinski: Water-Efficient Landscape Guidelines,American Water Work Association, Denver, Colorado 1993. pp.163-169.2 Jensen, M.E., R.D. Burman and R.G. Allen: Evapotranspiration and Irrigation WaterRequirements, American Civil Engineers, New York, New York 1990. pp.300-307.3 Bagust, Harold., The Gardeners Dictionary of Horticultural Terms. 1992 SterlingPublishing Co., NY, pp. 61, 115, 166, 251, and 298.4 Tootill, Elizabeth and Blackmore, Stephen., The Facts on File Dictionary of Botany.1984, Market House Books Ltd., Aylesbury, p.258.