MANTEL or MANTLE...Which is right?

Posted by Andrea Howell on

The other day there was a lot of confusion at my daughters spelling bee over how to spell the word mantle. Was it MANTEL or MANTLE? The definition they were seeking was for the ledge over a fireplace and no one could seem to remember which way to spell it.


Luckily, in  this day and age we have our friend, Google, to settle these matters quickly.  In this case, we learned that the piece of wood or stone over a fireplace is spelled: MANTEL.

 Thinking about this one little example of how easy it is to confuse words, their spellings and meanings, especially in an unfamiliar or specialized discipline, I decided to look more deeply into the matter. Several examples sprung to mind:   Is it shrubs or bushes? Contemporary or modern? Do you have a Chevron or herringbone pattern in your brick pathway? 

Here’s some insider information! 


As a landscape designer, the word bushesis thrown around a lot by people. I hear it used by my clients to refer to anything from a perennial to a small tree without real focused definition.

 A SHRUB, on the other hand,  is anything in your landscape that can be groomed, pruned, or shaped, while bushes are usually left to grow wild.  So to keep things simple, and to help when you  communicate when you  go to the nursery, think of shrubs as what you will purchase to be  in the landscape areas of your yard as opposed to BUSHES which  are more typically found in the woods and roadsides.


Contemporary vs modern suffers from some of the same confusion.  People tend to use these two words interchangeably when in fact they do have different meanings.  

Modern refers to a specific design period and  style  that came about in the 20th century.  Contemporary is a broader term that does not relate to a specific time period, but rather just signals  what is currently popular.


Lastly, there is the distinction between chevron and herringbone.  A chevron pattern is a continuous V” pattern with a 45 degree angle at the ends.  A herringbone pattern has a square end, which creates more of a zigzag effect.  To me a herringbone is always a little more classic, but either will make a beautiful walkway.

If you have questions or ideas about how you might like to create a  more meaningful landscape to make your statement, do not hesitate to contact me at Liv Design Partners so we can talk about it!

Keep growing! 


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