Deciduous shrubs
Deciduous shrubs drop their leaves in the autumn. As a category of plants, they are much more numerous and diverse than either of the evergreen categories; therefore the symbols used to represent them tend to be more generic or general. The edge of the symbol is loose and irregular, suggestive of the less rigid growth habit of most deciduous shrubs

Deciduous trees
Deciduous trees also lose their leaves during the winter season. Unlike most shrubs, trees usually have only a central trunk rather than multiple stems. Also, trees are generally taller than shrubs. All of these differences are suggested in the symbols selected by designers to represent deciduous trees. The symbols for trees are usually wider because trees are commonly larger than shrubs. The lines representing them may be thicker and/or darker too, reflecting their greater height and prominence within the design. Depending upon how much detail must be shown beneath them, the tree symbols may be simple and plain, or intricately detailed to show branches and/or leaves.

Needled Evergreens
When recalling the appearance of a pine or spruce tree, it is easy to understand the symbols commonly used to represent needled evergreens. The symbols suggest the spiny leaves and rigid growth habit of these plants, which are green throughout the year. These sym-bols can be used to represent both trees and shrubs as long as they are needled and evergreen.

Broadleaved Evergreens
Another group of plants are green throughout the year, but have wider and usually thicker, fleshy leaves. Plants such as the hollies, rhododendrons, and camellias exemplify the category of broadleaved evergreens. The symbols used to represent them suggest the larger leaf size and semi rigid growth habit of the plants. As with the needled evergreens, these symbols can be used for both broadleaved evergreen trees and shrubs.


Trees and shrubs tend to grow radially out from their centers. That is why the compass and circle template are so useful in forming their symbols. However, vines grow in a linear manner, and they do not hold to a predictable shape. Their symbols are shaped to suggest that rambling linearity.

Groundcovers are those plants, usually 18 inches or less in height, that fill the planting bed beneath the trees and shrubs. Like vines, many groundcovers are shapeless, linear plants that would have little impact on the design if used alone, but when grouped in masses and given time to fill in, they become an important textural component of the design. The symbols used to represent trailing groundcovers are therefore more textural than structural.

Hardscape Materials
Design materials that are not living plant materials are often referred to as hardscape. They include such things as paving, fencing and wall materials, furnishings, lighting, and water features. Like plant symbols, hardscape symbols attempt to suggest how the materials or objects will actually appear in the landscape. They need to be scaled appropriately to allow the graphic to look realistic. When the scale of the plan is so small that it becomes impossible to draw each brick, stone, or similar feature to its exact size, then a textural interpretation may be used to suggest the hardscape rather than interpret it literally.

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