Landscaping and Soil Biology Glossary


Accent – the use of plants or other objects in order to draw more attention to a space

Acidic Soil – soil with a pH value of less than 6.6

Acidophile – any organism which grows best under acidic conditions

Algae – a phototrophic microorganism which can be unicellular or multicellular, blue green algae is not a true algae it belongs to the cyanobacteria family

Alkaline Soil – soil that has a pH value of 7.3 or more

Amino Group – a group found in all amines and amino acids, it consists of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms

Anaerobic – the absence of molecular oxygen

Annual – flowering plants that last for only one season

Antagonist – a biological agent which reduces pathogens

Aromatic – organic compounds which contain a benzene ring, or any ring that contains similar chemical characteristics

Autotroph – an organism that uses carbon dioxide as its sole source of carbon


Bacteriocin – an agent which is produced by certain bacteria that inhibits or kills closely related species

Bark – the surface layer of a tree or other woody plant

Biennial – plants that grow for one year without flowering, then produce flowers or fruits in the second year and die

Bioaccumulation – the accumulation of some type of chemical substance in living tissue

Biodegradable – any substance which is capable of decomposing by only biological processes

Brown Rot Fungus – a type of fungus that attacks cellulose in wood leaving dark colored materials behind

Bud – a condensed shoot that contains a leaf or a flower


Canker – a fungal disease which can affect shoots

Carbon Cycle – the sequence in which carbon dioxide is converted into organic forms and then returned to its original state

Catalyst – a substance that promotes a chemical reaction

Cellulose – the main component of plant cell walls

Chlorophyll – the green pigment that is required for photosynthesis

Cross-pollination – when the pollen from the flower of one plant fertilizes the flower of another plant


Deciduous Trees – any tree that sheds its foliage at the end of the growing season

Defoliation – the loss of leaves from plants or trees

Detritus – dead animal or plant matter that is usually consumed by bacteria

Drip Irrigation – a system which allows the passage of water through emitters placed directly underneath the plant's root


Ecology – the study of how organisms interact with their environment and eachother

Evergreen – plants that remain green throughout the entire year


Fireblight – a bacterial disease that causes black flowers and stems

Frost Line – the earth below the soil that freezes in the winter


Ground Cover – plants that grow horizontal to the ground


Hardscape – sidewalk, patio, or walkways which cover the surface of the soil

Herbaceous Plant – a plant that has soft tissue

Heterotroph – a microorganism that uses organic matter for growth and energy

Humus – the dark organic materials found in soils that is produced by decomposition

Hybrid – a plant that is the result of cross-pollination between plants with different genetics


Impervious – the term given to soil that is impenetrable because of construction or foot traffic

Island Bed – flowering beds that can be walked on without causing damage


Landscaping Fabric – synthetic material which allows water to pass through but blocks sunlight and weeds

Limestone – a compound which contains calcium, it is often used to increase the pH level of soil


Macronutrient – an element needed by plants and other life forms for survival, includes Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium

Mulch – a layer of material that is placed around plants to control weeds and enhance moisture in the soil

Multi-stemmed – plants that have several main stems arising from the ground


Node – the point of a stem from which flowers and leaves arise

Nutrients – substances that are required to support all living organisms, major nutrients include hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen.


Organism – any form of plant or animal life existing on Earth


Pathogens – microorganisms that causes diseases for plants and humans

pH – a measure of how acidic or basic any given substance is, the scale ranges from 0-14

Phototroph – a microorganism that gets its energy from sunlight

Pruning – the process of controlling the growth of a tree or plant to give it shape and maintain its health


Rhizobacteria – a type of bacteria that aggressively

Root Pruning – the process of cutting off certain parts of a plant's root system to restrict growth


Saline Soil – soil which contains a sufficient amount of salt to adversely affect the growth of plants

Silt – a type of soil

Stacking – the process of supporting a tree using wooden stacks or ropes to keep it in place


Taxonomy – the study of scientific classification

Terracing – the building of walls to hold soil in place on a sloping landscape

Topiary – plants or shrubs that are shaped or trimmed into geometric or animal shapes

Topsoil – the layer of soil that is moved in cultivation


Variegated Leaves – leaves that have different colors and patterns


Weathering – the physical and chemical changes produced in rock by various atmospheric agents

White Rot Fungus – a type of fungus that attacks cellulose and results in a lightening of the infected wood


Xeriscape – a type of landscape that is specifically designed for areas that are susceptible to drought or in areas where water conservation is being practiced

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