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Dictionary of Landscape Architecture and Construction

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span The distance between two supports.

spandix See spadix.

spangham Mosses common to bogs, which, after harvesting and drying, are used in planting soils because of their moisture-retaining capacity and nutrients. See peat moss.

Spanish tile A curved, red-clay roofing tile laid in courses, with adjacent tiles having their convex side laid alternately up and down.

spathe In botanical terms, a flower-like or leaflike bract partly surrounding the inflorescence that is usually colored and noticeably appealing. They usually enclose a spadix.

spathulate See spatulate.

spatial element In landscape ecology, each of the relatively homogeneous units in a mosaic at any scale.

spatulate In botanical terms, shaped like a spatula, or druggist’s spoon.

spatulate leaf shape

spawl See spall.

special conditions A section of contract documents that clarifies the general conditions of work, or a project’s specific conditions.

specialty contractor A contractor performing a particular trade such as sprinkler irrigation,

specific gravity

deck building, installation of water features, flooring, windows, electrical work, etc. Landscape construction is often a specialty contractor’s trade in reference to a building being constructed with its site to be improved.

species A group of plants closely resembling each other and breeding freely. In a plant’s botanical name, the first word used is the genus, the second word is species, and the third word, if any, is the variety. If there is a fourth word, it is a strain.

species factor (Ks) or crop coefficient (Kc)

In irrigation auditing, a plant’s transpiration rate. A factor from 0.80 to 0.90 is generally high. Medium factors generally range from 0.50 to 0.70 depending on plant type. Low factors again depend on plant type and generally range from 0.10 to 0.60.

species richness The number of species in a given area. In most cases, the more species found or available, the more it is thought to be rich. But compatibility and environmental survivability are issues for the actuality of species richness.

specifications A written description of materials, systems, work processes, equipment use, etc. to be adhered to in order to enhance quality of construction on a project as part of the contract documents.

specific capacity The discharge rate pumped from a well divided by the drawdown in the well water surface. It is a measure of the productivity or capacity of a well.

specific epithet In botanical terms, the name of a plant in binomial nomenclature.

specific gravity A ratio of the density of a substance to the density of a reference substance. For fluids, the reference material is usu-


specific name

ally water. For gases, the reference material is usually air.

specific name A plant’s botanical (scientific) name.

specific retention The ratio of volume of water within rock or soil, after being saturated and retained against the pull of gravity, to the volume of rock or soil.

specific speed (Ns) With regard to pumps, the value that centrifugal pump design engineers use to classify impeller design. It is not the pump speed.

specific yield The ratio of the volume of water within rock or soil that moves with gravity after saturation to the volume of the rock or soil.

specimen 1. A term used to describe an ornamental plant of particular note for some attribute. 2. A plant that is exemplary in form to the point of being an example of how plants of the same botanical name should appear. 3. A plant specified for installation in a landscape construction project that should be healthy and true to form. It is usually for a conspicuous or important location in the landscape. 4. A plant that is chosen, with purpose or at random, from many plants of the same type as a sample.

specular angle An angle that is equal to the angle formed by a ray (such as light) striking a surface and a line perpendicular to the surface. The ray is reflected from the surface at the same angle it received the ray. The angle between the reflected ray and a line perpendicular to the surface is the specular angle.

spent Flowers that have finished their blooming cycle, or an individual flower that has completed its bloom.

sperm In reference to plants, a male gamete that can fuse with an egg to form a zygote.

sphagnum Many mosses of the order Sphagnum, which grow in moist, acid areas where there are decaying remains with other plants become peat (peat moss).


In botanical terms, spike-like, in a

spike, or arranged in a spike.

spider mite See mite.


1. A faucet or sill cock. 2. The end of a

pipe made to fit into a bell end of another pipe of the same type.

spike 1. A thick, long, heavy nail, usually given this reference if over 3 in (7.6 cm) long. They are usually available up to 12 in (30.5 cm) long and are useful for attaching timbers. 2. A grain plant head. 3. A long inflorescence much like a raceme except that flowers are sessile (closely held) on an elongated axis. The flowers are directly attached without any stems along the main lower stem. Flowers open in sequence beginning with the bottom of the spike. Racemes are similar, but have a small stem supporting each flower from the main stem.

spike inflorescence

spikelet In botanical terms, a small or secondary spike. It is a type or portion of a flower in


grasses and sedges. It may be a flower or flower cluster, consisting of a flower or flowers and their enclosing bracts.


spill stone In a waterfall, the stone at the point where water falls; it shapes the sheet or dribble of water that falls.

spindle In woodworking, a short piece shaped by turning and cutting on a lathe.

spindle-shaped In botanical terms, tapered at both ends.

spine In botanical terms, a sharp woody or rigid outgrowth from a plant branch or stem. A thorn or a stiff pointed portion of a plant capable of puncturing skin.

spinner sprinkler A spinning sprinkler operated at low pressure with a small distribution pattern.

spirit level A leveling device nearly filled with fluid utilizing an air bubble within a clear tube (or container) to allow determination of orientation to or from vertical or horizontal.

spittlebugs Numerous insects (family Cercopidae) whose larvae secrete froth, protecting them from being seen. They feed on stems, strawberries, etc.

splash block or splash guard A small precast concrete or plastic block laid below a downspout


to direct roof drainage away, and to prevent erosion of the surface on which it sits.

splash line A noticeable line on a surface (such as a fence or a building) where water splashes or is sprayed consistently, causing discoloration from minerals in the water.

splice box A box (often underground) made of plastic, fiberglass, or concrete, etc. where conductors (wires) are joined.

split-rail fence A fence with openings between the horizontal rails that are made of split wood.

spoil Material from excavating, trenching, or dredging.

sporangium, sporangia In botanical terms, a case or capsule producing spores on the underside of the fronds of ferns.

spore A simple type of reproductive cell (taking the place of a seed) that can produce a new plant and is common to algae, fungi, ferns, and mosses. These plants are not seed producing.

sport In horticulture, a mutant plant. It can be a plant or a portion of a plant exhibiting a sudden deviation from the norm for the plant type.

spot elevation A point on a site, plan, or map with a known existing or specified future elevation.

spotted spurge An annual weed with small leaves producing thousands of seeds within a month and is difficult to control, especially in lawns.

spp Abbreviation referring to more than one species.

spray The application of water or water mixed with fertilizer, insecticide, etc. by tiny droplets


sprayed concrete

produced by pressure and coming from a nozzle that fans it out.

sprayed concrete See shotcrete.

sprayer A tank and nozzle in various shapes and sizes used to spray dyes for concrete, insecticides, liquid fertilizer, weed killers, etc.


spray head A sprinkler head that sprays in a continuous spray pattern without rotating to irrigate. These heads usually allow change of nozzles for various trajectories, arcs, and water quantity outputs.

spray lime A hydrated lime made of fine particles, at least 9% of them pass through a No. 325 sieve.

spray sprinkler See spray head.

spreader A piece of equipment used to evenly broadcast seed, manure, fertilizer, herbicide, etc. over the ground.

spreading In the landscape industry, a plant that has a branching pattern or growing pattern that is more horizontal than vertical. Trees with this type of branching have horizontal trunks, or nearly so. (Compare with ascending.)

sprig Stolons or small plant divisions.

spreading branching patterns

sprigging The process of placing grass sprigs from running types of grasses (such as Bermuda grass) to create a lawn or stand of grass.

spring clamp A clamp with jaws that are normally kept closed by pressure from a spring to clamp materials or items. The jaws may be opened with two handles when they are squeezed.

springwood Growth of the xylem from the cambium layer that is formed in woody plants during spring and early summer. It is generally lighter in color than wood grown in late summer through fall.

sprinkler In landscaping, a device that emits, shots, sprays, or in any way distributes water.

sprinkler circuit The area covered by sprinkler heads operated by a single valve.

sprinkler controller A timing device used to turn on and off sprinkler valves or heads.

sprinkler controller


sprinkler flag A small flag and thin wire or plastic staff, usually 12 to 18 in high, used to mark locations of existing or proposed sprinkler heads, valves, etc. in the landscape.

sprinkler flag

sprinkler head A device that delivers and distributes water for irrigation by a stream or spray projected above the area of irrigation via water pressure. The nozzle portion of the head determines the length, type (spray, stream), and distance of water distribution. Common types of sprinkler heads include impact heads, spray heads, and rotor heads.

sprinkler head profile A graph showing the precipitation rate of a particular sprinkler head with a particular nozzle from the point of discharge to its farthest coverage point. These are quite telling of the areas within an arc or coverage area of the sprinkler that receive too little or too much precipitation. Sprinkler distribution is not usually even across the graph. Low and high points in the graph are usually overcome in sprinkler design by placing another sprinkler head no farther away than the farthest application of water by the next head. This is called head-to-head coverage and affords a better distribution and uniformity of applied water.


sprinkler irrigation The watering of plants or seeds with sprinkler heads.

sprinkler key A long metal device used for turning on or off valves on sprinkler systems. Some have a slot at their end (for stop and waste valves), some have a box on their end (for large, water line, cast-iron valves), and some have a rounded fork at their end (for turning on manual valves). The sprinkler key in the illustration fits over a manual angle valve.

sprinkler profile See sprinkler head profile.

sprinkler program Information entered into the controller’s memory determining when the system will water. A program usually contains three pieces of information: days to water, time to start watering, and the length of each zone to be watered.

sprinkler schedule 1. A tabulation of materials for a sprinkler system including, but not limited to, such information as the type of equipment (i.e., sprinkler head, valve type, controller, quick coupler) size, gallons per minute, manufacturer, and model number. 2. The timing and frequency of sprinkler operations including runtime, time of day for operation, and days to be operated.

sprinkler system The composite of all elements to facilitate irrigation; usually refers to an irrigation system with sprinkler heads.

sprinkler valve An automatic valve or a manual valve used for turning on and off a sprinkler system.

sprinkler valve key See sprinkler key.

sprinkler zone The area covered by sprinkler heads operated by a single valve.

sprout 1. The opening of a seed; the beginning of its growth. 2. A sucker or runner from a plant.


spun concrete

spun concrete Concrete compacted by spinning, as with the manufacture of pipes.

spur 1. Some fruits such as apples and cherries that bear their fruit on specialized short twigs. 2. Projections from a flower (usually tubular) such as found in columbine (Aquilegia) flowers. They arise from sepals or petals. 3. An offshoot or projection away from the main body.

sq. ft. Abbreviation for square foot (feet).

sq. in. Abbreviation for square inch(es).

sq. km. Square kilometer(s); 1,000,000 square meters, or 0.3861 square miles.

sq. m. Abbreviation for square meter.

sq. mi. Abbreviation for square mile(s).

square 1. Roofing materials equaling 100 sq ft (9.29 sq m). 2. A steel, L-shaped tool used to draw lines to cut lumber perpendicular to an edge. See steel square.

square edge In reference to lumber, wood cut with four edges at right angles. It is not tapered or tongue-and-groove.

square foot or square feet or sq. ft. or ft2

English or U.S. measurement of area equal to a square measuring one foot along each edge. It is an area equal to 144 sq in or 0.093 sq m.

square foot gardening A type of intensive gardening where plants are grown 1 ft apart, usually in raised beds, and by organic means.

square inch or sq. in. or in2 English or U.S. measurement of area equal to a square measuring one inch along each edge. It is an area equal to 0.0069 sq ft, or 6.452 sq cm.

square kilometer A metric measurement of area being one kilometer square; equal to 1,000,000 sq m, or 0.3861 sq mi.

square meter A metric measurement of surface area equal to one meter square.

square mile or sq. mi. or mi2 English or U.S. measurement of area equal to a square measuring one mile along each edge; equal to 640 ac, or 2.590 sq kms.

square spacing A reference in sprinkler layout design in which head-to-head coverage is obtained by heads being laid out in a pattern that is square if imaginary lines were drawn between heads in plan view.

square yard or sq. yd. or yd2 English or U.S. measurement of area equal to a square with each edge measuring one yard. It is equal to 9 sq ft, or 0.836 m.

squarrose In botanical terms, a plant part abruptly spreading or recurved at some point above the base.

squash borer A larva of a moth prevalent in the eastern United States that bores into squash stems, leaving a sawdust-like excrement while causing wilting and death.

squash bugs A large blackish bug (Anasa tristis of the Coreidae family) that can cause plants of the gourd family to completely wilt. Damage is usually found on zucchini, winter squash, and pumpkin. Control is usually by chemicals.

sq. yd. Abbreviation for square yard(s).

SSF Abbreviation for subsurface flow.

SST Abbreviation for stainless steel.

stability In reference to composting, an indication of the relative state of decomposition. The more decomposed the compost material, the more stable it is. The process of decomposition may be temporarily harmful to plants, especially as nitrogen is robbed from the soil to assist in the


process. Humus is fully or nearly fully decomposed organic material that is stable in or on the soil.

stabilization 1. The increase of stability of a sloped earthen mass. 2. The securing, steadying, or establishment in place of, a construction item.

stable A building for the sheltering and care of horses.

staging area A space allowed for a contractor to place materials and equipment for constructing a project.

stain 1. An added color or a natural discoloration in the surface of a material. 2. A chemical colorant (pigment) for enhancing wood grain during finishing. It may be a solid stain or a semitransparent stain. 3. A pigment or dye in paint.

stair A step or several steps.

staircase A group of stairs or several groups (flights) of stairs with the associated framework, handrails, etc.

stake 1. A piece of metal, wood, etc. pounded into the ground to mark or support something. 2. A reference to a fertilizer stake made of hardened fertilizer in the shape of a stake so that it may be forced into the ground. It is much like a fertilizer stick except that it is usually larger and has a point. It decomposes, and some materials leach, acting much the same as a fertilizer tablet.

stake-and-rider fence A fence made of posts resting on the ground at an angle and fastened together where they cross near their ends; also has rails riding on these crossings extending horizontally between them.

staking See tree staking.


staking out The placing of stakes to give locations for construction work and placements.

stalk 1. The main stem of an herbaceous plant. 2. The main stem of any plant. 3. A slender support of a flower or leaf (petiole, peduncle).

stalked leaf A leaf with a petiole for attachment of the leaf. (Compare with sessile and perfoliate.)

stalked leaf attachment

stamen In botanical terms, the male organ of a flower consisting of an anther and a filament.

staminate In botanical terms, a male flower with stamens, but no pistils.

staminode In botanical terms, a modified stamen that does not produce pollen, or a structure resembling a stamen that is sometimes petal- like.

staminodium A sterile stamen.

stamping Shaping metal, concrete, etc. by forcing a hard device into its surface before it has hardened.

stand A group of plants together in an area and usually touching one another or nearly so.





standard In horticulture, a treelike form of a shrub or vine that is trained and pruned to have a trunk with a head like a miniature tree. Tree roses are the most common standards grown. Most standard forms have a head that starts at least 5 ft (1.5 m) from the ground surface. Some shrubs are grafted on a tall stalk for an interesting standard specimen.

Standard Dimensional Ratios (SDR) The ratio of a pipe’s outside diameter to its wall thickness (outside diameter/wall thickness). As the pipe diameter increases, there is a proportional increase in wall thickness. Pipes with the same SDR ratio will usually bear the same working pressure throughout all pipe sizes.

standard inside diameter dimension ratio (SIDR) With regard to pipes, the ratio of the

average inside diameter to the minimum thickness.

standpipe A high vertical pipe or tank used for storing water and supplying pressure.

staple A double-pointed, U-shaped metal wire or stiff steel often used for the same purposes as nails, but preferred for its potentially increased holding power. In smaller sizes, they are forced under pressure from a staple gun into construction materials, but in larger sizes they are usually forced by hand into such materials as erosion control fabric or weed barrier fabric.

start A set or larger plant part used to propagate another.

starter solution A chemical (usually vitamin A) fertilizer dissolved in water, and applied in the planting hole or around the roots of plants that have been newly transplanted. Sometimes bare root plants are soaked in such a solution before planting. This assists plants to withstand the shock of being moved and speeds up root development.

State Agriculture Experimental Station

In the United States, a government-sponsored resource for unbiased, current information regarding hardiness, soils, fertilizers, plant varieties, pest and disease control, etc. They are often associated with state agricultural colleges.

static head The pressure in any water system not in use and not flowing when expressed as head.

static pressure Within irrigation pipes, the pressure of water exerted when the system is at rest, in a closed system, with no water flow from or through pipes.

static suction head A condition occurring when the pump is lower in elevation than the supply. It is the distance between the pump centerline and the water supply surface elevation.


static suction lift The vertical distance from the pump centerline to the supply surface when the pump is above the supply.

station 1. A circuit on an irrigation controller that can be programmed with a runtime separate from other circuits and provides electrical power to open or close one or more remote valves. 2. The coverage of a valve in combination with its watering devices.

statue A three-dimensional representation of a person, animal, or mythical image (or a combination of such) created by sculpting, casting, carving, etc.


STD, std. Abbreviation for standard.

steam pasteurization Treating a growing medium (soil mix) by heating with steam at a

stepping stone

temperature of 160 F (56°C) to kill harmful organisms such as weed seeds, nematodes, insects, diseases, etc.

steam sterilization Treating a growing medium (soil mix) by heating with steam at a temperature of 212 F (100°C) to kill all living organisms in the soil.

steel An alloy of iron and steel refined from pig iron or from scrap steel.

steel square A flat, steel, L-shaped tool with measurements (inches, centimeters) marked along its edge, used to mark perpendicular lines or check corners for being perpendicular (square) to each other.

stele The primary vascular tissue structure of stems or roots together with any tissue (such as the pith) that it encloses.

stellate In botanical terms, star-like; several similar parts radiating from a common center in various directions.

stem 1. A primary plant portion that develops buds and shoots rather than roots. 2. The main trunk of a plant.

stemflow Rainfall intercepted by plant leaves and branches conveyed to the ground via stems or the trunk.

step A tread and a riser as a single unit or in a staircase.

stepped fashion A horizontal flashing along a sloped roof against and intersecting a vertical face that steps up with the slope of the roof.

stepping stone 1. In landscape ecology, patches that are spatially arranged to act as cover or favorable conditions for an organism or element to move through the landscape from patch to patch. 2. A hard surface piece placed in a lawn, ground cover, or surface mulch to allow



pedestrians ease of access and prevent damage (soil compaction, damage to plants) to the landscape. They can be round, square, or any shape. Examples of materials used for stepping stones are brick, concrete, block, and wood rounds. They are usually laid in series with spaces between each. They are most often used in lowlevel pedestrian traffic areas.

stepping stone, detail

or not having seeds capable of germination. A description of the condition of a single plant that is not capable of producing viable seed. 3. A condition of soil when it contains no living organisms.

sterilization 1. The act of causing soil to be incapable of sustaining plant growth by use of heat, chemicals, etc. 2. The act of causing a flower or plant to not be capable of reproduction.

stick 1. A length of pipe. 2. A long, slender piece of wood. 3. A hardened fertilizer somewhat in the shape of a stake so that it may be forced into the ground. It is very similar to a fertilizer stake except that it is usually more slender and has no point. It decomposes, and some materials leach to the soil below, acting much the same as a fertilizer tablet.

stiffener plate A steel plate attached to structural members to add support against heavy loads, or to make a secure attachment.

stigma The part of the female portion of a flower (pistil or style) that receives pollen.

stepping stone

stereoscope A viewing device used to see a three-dimensional image using two aerial photographs overlapping (showing adjacent land areas) or side to side.

sterile 1. With regard to flowers (inflorescence), incapable of reproducing because of not bearing spores, pollen, or female reproductive organs (the pistil). 2. Not bearing flowers


stile A vertical, structural member of a frame.

stinkbug Any of the family Pentatomidae that emits an unpleasant odor when disturbed. It can feed on fruits and vegetables and may become a nuisance.


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