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How to map

If an area is enclosed on some or all sides by a highway, should you then reuse the points from the highway in the area? Pros: less points needed, logical connection between the way and the area. Cons: harder to select in the editor? rendering issues? I'm thinking mainly of mapping landuse in cities, where there often is zoning based on where the roads go. Residential area on one side of the road and a park on the other etc. Norpan 16:09, 19 November 2008 (UTC)

There is no consensus about this. If you look in the mailing list archives, you can find multiple heated discussions which way is best. The only conclusion that can be drawn from them, is that you should do what you think is best. --Cartinus 23:54, 19 November 2008 (UTC)
Gluing is a really bad idea and should be avoided. Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 17:23, 25 August 2022 (UTC)

How to use


Update: - josm/latest has support for easy editing of multiple ways sharing the same nodes (use ALT-key and left click OR set selectaction.cycles.multiple.matches=true) --Cmuelle8 05:16, 24 November 2010 (UTC)

Is right or left version correct? --Hind 09:41, 12 March 2009 (UTC)

Left. --Hawke 16:53, 12 March 2009 (UTC)
If you go through the mailinglist archives, then you can find this discussed more than once. There are people who think the left method is best and there are people who think the right method is best. There has never been a "final decision", so both methods are "allowed". --Cartinus 23:53, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
True, but the left version has been tolerated as an easier mapping scheme for initial entry. The right version has the information needed, while the left leaves a lot of it behind. Please consider using the right version unless you're dealing with a blank map area. --SimoneSVC (talk) 13:42, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Other possibilities (I have seen) each block has individual landuse area.

Or is a block surrounded by highway=residential implicitly landuse=residential? Why bother with the area tag?

See above (Cities and landuse) --Hind 09:38, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
Giving each block its own landuse area seems ridiculously complicated to me, but is not incorrect. I don't think there's a need for area=*. But if you meant "why bother tagging the area at all?" then I expect that it's because it's not easy for renderers to determine when an area is fully surrounded by a particular tag applied to arbitrary ways. Also, many people don't bother tagging the area. --Hawke 15:27, 13 March 2009 (UTC)
The right version has even more advantages (which are at the same time disadvantages of the left version): 1. you get explicitly the block border. (More information) 2. You get the true areas. This is important when you try to find out in which area a point feature lies. 3. If you do it well there is no "untidy apperance" but a more of detail and actually IMHO a "tidier appearance" --Dieterdreist 16:37, 28 August 2011 (BST)
I tend to use the approach on the right (keep landuse data mostly detached) but the other way works too. It's an open question. -- Harry Wood 16:13, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

How to use - Pavements

I understand that the preferred way of tagging landuses for highly detailed mapping is the right one from the screnshot: The (residential) landuse is not glued to the street but at where the residential area truly begins, apart from the street. But since this method is for highly detailed maps, it is imperative to know: Where should the (residential) area start? Does it include or exclude the sidewalk? It is written nowhere yet. I think the best way would be to exclude the sidewalk, since the sidewalk is part of the street way (e.g. highway=residential + sidewalk=both) already. That means of course, that for town apartments that have their entrance directly to the sidewalk, the residential area can share the same points as the building polygons. Opinons? --Westnordost (talk) 23:38, 23 July 2015 (UTC)

Named Housing Developments

Where we are it is common to give a name to housing developments. landuse=residential is ideal for this since it blocks in the area and displays the name at reasonable levels. However, since in Mapnik and Osmarender it has no outline, if you get several developments next to one another, it is not possible to tell where one ends and another starts. Is this the right place to put in requests for tweaks to the renderer like this. Even a slightly darker gray outline would be great. (Unsigned comment by User:Heptazane, 2009 June 29)

This would be a good thing to suggest at []. Log in there with your OSM login, and open a new ticket. The component would either be "Mapnik" or "Osmarender" (or one ticket for each?) and the importance would probably be "Enhancement". Describe in the ticket how you'd like the rendering to change, and why.
On the other hand, aren't the divisions between residential developments usually evident in the street patterns? Around here, adjacent residential developments rarely connect to each other directly, sort of like the two halves of the human brain. Vid the Kid 01:00, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
And if there's a fence or a hedge (how else would you know where their border is?), you can draw an extra way (using the same nodes, even) between the areas and tag it with barrier=fence/wall/hedge - which all show up as a black line marking an obstruction. Alv 06:50, 10 August 2009 (UTC)
Consider reading this page, Neighbourhood, which discusses mapping neighborhoods and subdivisions. -- Joshdoe 19:18, 24 May 2011 (BST)

Landuse for grass between roads

What kind of landuse do I use for grass between roads or paths beside streets? example: "meadow" is for natural grass, that isn't cut and "forest" isn't appropriate either. I think, we need something like "managed_green" for filling spots like these. Flaimo 16:05, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

landuse=grass is rendered already. Managed patches of grass that aren't big (or leisurely or accessible) enough to be leisure=park. Alv 16:10, 14 October 2009 (UTC)
to my mind for not accessible grass between carriageways example or within junctions example we need a tag landuse=highway. We already have a comparable landuse=railway, why shouldn't we have a tag for areas which are clearly pertaining to roads? --Kaitu 21:04, 19 December 2009 (UTC)
to map the physical representation for streets use area:highway=*, where "*" is tagged with the default highway values. --Flaimo 22:46, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

landuse=leisure and leisure=park

In the first thread on this page the notion of using Tag:landuse=park was briefly discussed. I would argue that one could do something like the type=route/route=road pairing used in relations to first designate land in use for leisure, then use a leisure 'subtype'. I propose (and will likely start to use) the pairing Tag:landuse=leisure/Tag:leisure=park. This could also be applied to recreation_ground, leading to the pairing Tag:landuse=leisure/Tag:leisure=recreation_ground.

P.S. According to value queries against there are 278 uses of landuse=park, 13 uses of landuse=leisure and 8,682 uses of landuse=recreation_ground as of 14 Nov 09.
P.P.S. According to value queries against there are 123,352 uses of leisure=park and 9,643 uses of leisure=recreation_ground as of 14 Nov 09.

--Ceyockey 20:30, 14 November 2009 (UTC)

Note that those numbers are from sometime in August 2009, since the data in OSMdoc isn't refreshed periodically (yet). --Cartinus 09:49, 20 December 2009 (UTC)

landuse=grass and landuse=meadow

Could somebody please better explain the difference between landuse=grass and landuse=meadow? --Kaitu 21:11, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

landuse=grass has a wider application than landuse=meadow. A meadow[1] is a specific kind of grass covered area, usually outside of build-up areas. landuse=grass on the other hand is also used for things like the grass covered centre of a big roundabout, a stretch of grass in a residential area where you can let your dog run, etc. --Cartinus 09:47, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
I'd expect a landuse=grass patch to be mowed at least once or twice each summer, whereas a meadow can be uncut; only woody plants might be removed occasionally, or they don't flourish to overcome the grassy plants. Alv 11:08, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
There are cases where land within a city has been allowed to grow without mowing as a way to 'return it to a natural state', thus emulating a little urban meadow; there are patches of this type of area on the campus of the company I work for. Could you suggest how such 'urban meadowland' might be tagged? --Ceyockey 13:31, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
landuse=meadow on the area. This area must be included in a relation multipolygon as inner, the landuse=residential or what so ever is the outer of the relation. FrViPofm 11:20, 28 December 2009 (UTC)
Grass is not a use. It is a landcover, but not a use. Warin61 (talk) 22:57, 15 January 2017 (UTC)


What would the landuse be for a meeting place like a sportsmen's club (hunting/fishing) or Masonic Lodge? --NE2 06:23, 8 January 2010 (UTC)

I would use landuse=institutional. See discussion further below. T99 21:07, 30 July 2011 (BST)
building=* The surrounding area could be commercial. Warin61 (talk) 22:52, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Landuse for roads

in the german forums there is a discussion going on weather to tag the area for roads with landuse=highway + highway=path/track/primary/... besides the already existing ways for roads, since high resolution satellite pictures are available for more and more areas, which would allow a more detailed mapping. landuse could be used for rendering purposes, while all routing information is still tagged on the ways. -- Flaimo 21:30, 25 December 2010 (UTC)

No, landuse should not be used in this way. A landuse=highway area would include not only the road surface but any adjacent right of way, for example (I recently changed it to landuse=transport, but there's no real difference). If you want to map only the area used as a highway, use surface=* or a new tag. --NE2 21:50, 25 December 2010 (UTC)
Landuse can be used to define the area used for the highway including the median, roundabouts, the verge, emergency phone areas etc. In fact these areas are used by the highway for infrastructure and safety. Warin61 (talk) 22:56, 15 January 2017 (UTC)


isn't it more appropriate to use something like landuse=education instead of amenity=school to map the area? often different kinds of schools share the same estate. this would mean, after the current scheme the area gets an amenity=school as do all schools on that area. this confuses basically all routing programs, which show n+1 results when searching for schools in that area. my optinion is, amenity=school should only be used on the actual facility and the landuse should be tagged with landuse=education --Flaimo 21:33, 25 March 2011 (UTC)

This could be covered by landuse=institutional if it is adopted--Ponzu 01:11, 6 April 2011 (BST)


I think the omission of landuse=institutional is glaring. I am perusing my city's zoning papers (US) and they talk about the following land use categories: agriculture (we have much more granular farm, farming, orchard, etc., which is fine), preservation (we have leisure=nature_reserve, which is used for the same purpose), residential, commercial and institutional (covering educational and public facilities). Looks like we missed one of the big five. The other day I asked in Help how to tag a civic center. No one knew for certain. landuse=institutional would have been just the thing.--Ponzu 01:11, 6 April 2011 (BST)

Of the values taginfo reveals today, the value landuse=civil is the first one that tries to describe the same category, even if, possibly, thought of as a bit more restricted case. At 295 uses only, it's a rare occurence, but still the most popular choise. It was mentioned in some wiki proposal, which is where people have found it. Alv 02:00, 6 April 2011 (BST)
How much is landuse=public used? --NE2 04:40, 6 April 2011 (BST)
Both values may be fine for what they are, "civic" being narrower than "institutional" and "public" being a bit broad. There may be a public space where there are no amenities whatsoever. I just wanted to bring up an official zoning term that appears to have been overlooked. Okay, official for one country maybe, but still. As far as my civic center, I will be happy to retag it as landuse=civil. But if Mapnik and other rendereres don't notice and shade it, it's not much use to me. I wanted it to stand out on the map, so I followed someone's advice and made it landuse=commercial. I know, I know, don't tag for the renderer and all that. I did not feel good about it.--Ponzu 05:11, 6 April 2011 (BST)
according to tagwatch education is used 70 times, institutional is used 9 times (as of 2011-04-06) also landuse=education is not necessarily the same thing as civil, since schools and universities can also be private, so i think those should represented as separate landuse values --Flaimo 08:19, 6 April 2011 (BST)
I'd see a private school/park/stadium as still being a public/institutional use. --NE2 15:41, 6 April 2011 (BST)
No doubt that "civil" and "education" would be two different tag values. My point was (or, rather, my city government's point) was that "institutional" covers both - if we are to try and keep the number of adopted and rendered tag values manageable.--Ponzu 19:33, 6 April 2011 (BST)
I am missing a landuse key for things like courthouses, prisons, public employment agencies (Arbeitsagenturen), hospitals, state attorneys offices (Staatsanwaltschaften), local and regional administrative buildings, police departments etc. Those are primarily offices, so it could be landuse=commercial, but they do not necessarily involve or exclude making a profit, so "commercial" does not appear right. I would propose a tag "landuse=public_services", as these buildings are intended to provide a public service: for health care, security, law, public administration and related services. The tags "civil" or "public" are a little bit too vague in my opinion. Longbow4u 19:30, 22 May 2011 (BST)
I vote yes for landuse=institutional and I will start using it for land areas designated for many different things:
  • Government offices for all different levels of government, whether these facilities are open to the public or not.
  • Educational or research facilities, including libraries.
  • Places of worship, or other facilities operated by a religious organization.
  • Medical and healh care facilities.
  • Any public or private place where people gather for meetings or celebrations, including (but not limited to) community halls, the facilities of fraternal organizations and commercial conference centers and ballrooms.
Many buildings on these areas will be tagged as building=public or something more specific such as building=office. T99 21:03, 30 July 2011 (BST)
please don't lump together religion, healthcare and education in a too generic value. those have nothing to do which each other and in the end would need a second key again to differentiate them. also tagwatch continues to shows a trend towards separate values anyway (see links above). --Flaimo 02:49, 31 July 2011 (BST)

Refining landuse=residential

I propose an additional tag to further refine landuse=residential areas:

  • residential=apartments - for apartments or flats, where residential units are at least partially on top of each other. This tag applies to the land area, which may have one or more apartment buildings.
  • residential=terraced - for townhomes or terraced houses where residential units are attached side-to-side. Each unit may have one or more floors.
  • residential=duplex - for duplexes, buildings that contain exactly two residential units, usually side-by-side.
  • residential=detached - for normal permanent standalone homes, with one or more floors.
  • residential=mobile - for mobile home parks or lightweight "manufactured homes" that are designed to be transportable. (This applies to areas designated for long-term residency, not for camping sites.)
  • residential=mixed - for areas with multiple types of residences. You could also list the types separated by semicolons, starting with the type with the greatest number of units, such as residential=terraced;duplex.

The above classification is purely physical, it does not imply any type of ownership for the land or the structures on it. In addition to residences, the land area may include other facilities (parking, recreational) designated for use primarily by the residents.

Additional tags that could be applied, if known:

  • name=* - for the name of the area.
  • operator=* - for the name of the entity that manages the area.
  • builder=* - for the name of the entity that originally developed the land and built the structures on the area.
  • min_age=55 - for a community designated for seniors (use min_age=yes if the exact age limit is not known).
  • max_income=yes - for a community designated for low-income residents.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

--T99 21:46, 30 July 2011 (BST)

Just one thought: could there be some other attribute of the residential area, that would also be roughly equally descriptive? The building types are already present/will be present in the building=* tagged ways inside each landuse area, so this use would be good at first, but later on just duplication. The current uses (taginfo) seem to be for four different, conflicting properties: 1) urban/rural (89% of uses so far) 2) garden 3) your proposed use 4) "by use" i.e. sheltered_housing, student_village etc. Alv 13:35, 8 August 2011 (BST)
Describing a whole area at once is far more efficient than describing individual buildings (and there are lots of areas still to be described). Consider that a typical modern detached house has 12-20 corners and an apartment building can sport 40 or more (you don't want to even start before you get hi-res aerial imagery). Of course, when one has described each and every building individually, one should remove the now duplicate tag from the landuse area. -T99 08:21, 17 August 2011 (BST)
Not saying it wouldn't be a good way to start, that is by recording the dominant house type - just that some other key might be better for the future, when the popular a=b b=c c=d kind of iterative tagging chain won't be broken in the future. Intuitively, the now most common use of residential=urban/rural isn't the best chosen key for that distinction, either. Alv 09:42, 17 August 2011 (BST)
I completely agree with Alv: what you are suggesting is tagging the predominant building type in a landuse area. I would suggest using something like building_type=*. There are numerous other properties of landuse=residential which could be used for sub-tagging (again as stated by Alv). One point, residential=sheltered_housing and residential=student_village, both tags I have used reflect not just use, but a much broader range of properties associated with the landuse (architecture, landscaping, access). For instance sheltered housing can cover modern developments but also mediaeval alms houses which are still in use. So called student villages are a very recent development in Britain associated with the rapid expansion of the university system and only exist in a small number of . It may also be interesting for older homogeneous tracts of residential landuse to identify the original nature of the development - company housing, speculative development, social housing etc. - as again this might be of value in interpreting aspects of the landuse. The key is to understand what we want from landuse values: see my blog on Augmenting Residential Landuse. [Note this should be moved to the talk page of landuse=residential]. SK53 10:30, 17 August 2011 (BST)
The method T99 suggests sounds like zoning. Many cities have zoning restrictions that specify what land may be used for. Typically these include zones for single family homes, or multi-family homes, or commercial, or industrial, or agricultural. This seems to me to be a reasonable way to use the landuse and residential tags. Or perhaps zoning needs its own set of tags. More about zoning at [2] --Modus ponens 06:07, 27 October 2011 (BST)
I would like to re-open the discussion. According to tagInfo, the usage changed a lot (not always for the better if you ask me). It would be good if we get a better defined list. Based on the main once according to tag-info, I would propose the following main values: apartments (and deprecate urban), rural, single_family, terrace, duplex. Rural should be for areas where the houses are spread over a large area (even though they might be single-family or duplex). I would also like to see residential=* to be deprecated in combination with building=* in favor of building_type=*. --Cartographer10 (talk) 13:26, 13 November 2022 (UTC)

Landuse= -vs- Place=

Hello all, firstly I'm a n00b. I've noticed that many of the subdivision in my area are named landuse=residential polygons. I've found there also exists a feature, place=neighbourhood that to me seems like the same thing. If each neighborhood (those with platted definitions) is already mapped as a landuse=residential feature, than why have the place=neighbourhood to begin with?

Should each landuse=residential feature also have a place=neighbourhood feature over it with the same boundary perhaps? --Talllguy 17:43, 5 March 2012 (UTC)

  • My opinion on this is that _place=neighborhood_ implies _landuse=residential_ but not vice versa. In that case, if one has information on a particular area having a name and a boundary which allows one to refer to it as a named place, then neighborhood would be preferred. For instance, a relation of _type=boundary_ and _border_type=subdivision_ I created at ; _place=neighborhood_ is on the label node, but it might just as well (maybe better) been put on the relation so that rendering like that via WIWOSM would show a boundary instead of a node. I'm glad to hear people's opposition to or support for this opinion. --Ceyockey (talk) 12:23, 15 February 2013 (UTC)
  • landuse=residential means "a contiguous area of houses". place=neighbourhood means "a name given to a local area". As noted in the doc for neighbourhood, boundaries are usually fuzzy, so just put a place=neighbourhood node in the middle. Normally, landuse=residential doesn't have a name, unless it's a gated community or something (ie, a bunch of houses built as a single development, and thus sharing a single name). Stevage (talk) 00:17, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

Dealing with city centres

Where I live there are a lot of areas that you might call mixed-use. I'm hesitant to use two or three tags for the same area and wonder if people can give some guidance as to how I should proceed.

Here are four specific examples to give you a sense of the kind of issues I'm facing:

  • An area of roughly six-story buildings with bars and restaurants on the bottom one or two floors and commercial office space above that. I feel this should be classified as retail --- because most people go here for the bars and restaurants, not for the offices --- but I want to check my working.
  • An area with shops on the bottom floor and apartments above. Is this still retail, or is it residential?
  • An area with 12 to 20-story buildings, that have two floors of shops, including shopping malls, and offices above that. This is the most intensive commercial area and most intensive retail area in the city.
  • An area of with low-rise buildings, roughly every second building has a shop in the ground floor, a minority of buildings used as office space, a few as apartments, the odd industrial workshop, a few car dealerships and some shops with workshops attached to them. This area also has a church and a school.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Ben Arnold 08:54, 15 June 2012 (BST)

Further on mixed-use (extending "Dealing with city centres", above)

The situations that Ben Arnold describes are not limited to city centres. In some older low-density parts of town we have a number of two- or three-storey buildings with retail or offices on the first floor and residences above. These are new developments marketed with "Lofts" in the development names. This strikes me as very similar to city centres in European cities. How are landuse areas of such mixed-use buildings tagged there?

--EdH (talk) 15:49, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

This is one I've thought of. They are quite common in London, and planners have actually been insisting on them where developers have tried to create new apartments in prevous commercial or retail areas. In particular, there was a case where there was a new estate of apartments, arranged into quadrangles. Two of the four quadrangles had one side like this, so you ended with single buildings that were three quarters pure residential and one quarter mixed. I decided to use a multipolygon inner of landuse=retail;residential" for the mixed parts.
(This case was probably planned this way because the planners didn't want a sea of housing without any shops, as it was previously industrial usage.)
However, the general precedent seems to be to treat such mixed cases as pure retail.
-- Hadw (talk) 07:44, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Which landuse for plants growing ?

Hi, I have to map areas that are kind of orchards, but for other purpose than producing fruits, or even food. Trees are grown to produce flowers or for their branchs (cosmetic & perfume use). It rarely looks like a forest, but more like the geometric plantations on this picture, including the naked bottom field after harvesting (trees remain, only their branchs are cut).

I don't think that any of farmland, forest, orchard or plant_nursery match the need.

As vineyard has its specific landuse, I intend to propose landuse=plantation, unless someone has a best idea ?

Thank you Djam (talk) 21:43, 1 June 2014 (UTC)

"farmland" is appropriate. It does not matter if this is used for producing foods for humans, or animals, or for the industry (e.g. oil production). Vineyards are clearly agricultural and produce food (and other subproducts). This can pply as well to plantations of palmtrees, bananatrees, coffea, tea, coton, silk warms... The alignment of trees or plants is not a valid criteria as this also applies to most landuse=forests (in contrast to natural=forest which are more diversified and planted randomly), and most crops in cultivated farmlands are aligned precisely to facilitate the work of engine and optimize the productivity and save resources/fertilizers and water supplies.
All crops also generate subproducts which will then frequently feed animals. Even vineyards or oliveyears have now other useful productions in them.
Monoculture is no longer the recommended norm, it just wastes space and resources and is not optimal throughout the year on the calendar, and it costs a lot for the soils to regenerate (they become infertile or too much polluted) and costs too much in fertilizers and treatments.
A natural biodiversity of the soils helps prevent many pests and develops natural resistances against them. It is also interesting economically and prevents massive disasters (and it has been demonstrated in very small farms within cities that have developed multiproduction throughout the year and are now more productive than monoculture, and don't need massive fertilizers, and their products have a higher nutritive quality, shorter developement cycles, can better adapt to the changing market conditions and they save a lot on transports and energy). — Verdy_p (talk) 02:07, 30 December 2017 (UTC)


The Harbour page suggest tagging the harbour area as landuse=harbour. The landuse=*-page suggests landuse=port, which in turn suggests landuse=industrial + industrial=port. I guess it would be a good idea to clean up these definitions. --Skippern (talk)

landuse=basin vs. landuse=reservoir

It is not clear what is the essential difference between landuse=basin and landuse=reservoir. Both are man made structures used to store water... Zstadler (talk) 15:32, 21 November 2016 (UTC)

Landuse residential and comercial icons

The column element of the landuse usage table could be wrong in some cases. I have checked construction and commercial, and both of them are not allowed in point; however, there is an icon telling that it could be used that way.

Regarding the pages for those types, it is clear that it is not allowed in a point: and (Initially, I wrote residential, shame on me)

What is correct? I suppose there is an error on the page.

--AngocA (talk) 18:21, 4 February 2022 (UTC)

This is allowed, same with the "worse" building=*. Although not the most useful. --- Kovposch (talk) 18:37, 4 February 2022 (UTC)

No, Comercial and construction, and other kind of landuses are not allowed in nodes as it is stated in their pages.

--AngocA (talk) 19:35, 4 February 2022 (UTC)

landuse=construction is valid also on node. I edited this page. The same applies to landuse=commercial, especially named one though I not edited page there. See in general Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 05:42, 5 February 2022 (UTC)

The area tag

I was thinking of adding a note to discourage the superfluous area=yes tag in conjunction with landuse, but want to check if there are any special cases that require it.

area=yes is superfluous in general with area-implying tags Mateusz Konieczny (talk) 14:57, 6 December 2022 (UTC)