Garden Jargon: Gardening Terms Made Simple

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Garden Jargon: Gardening Terms Made Simple

Gardening is a fulfilling and rewarding hobby. Not only is it a great form of exercise that gets you back to nature, but it improves mental health and wellbeing too. Add to that the gratifying feeling of having grown your very own flowers, fruits or vegetables, and you can see why gardening is one of the most popular pastimes in the UK.

But gardening is by no means a walk in the park. People who are new to gardening can feel overwhelmed at first – a feeling which may only increase if they turn to gardening magazines, books, radio shows or websites for advice.

While veteran gardeners understand gardening jargon, those new to the hobby might feel utterly confused by the terminology.  If you’re feeling daunted by the new and unfamiliar gardening-specific words, fear not. This handy guide to the most common gardening terms should help you to understand most basic gardening advice.

Bone meal

A type of fertiliser made from animal bones. It is a finely ground powder and is used to add phosphorous to the soil.


When a plant’s leaves turn a yellowish colour due to discolouration. There are a number of reasons this may happen, including nutrient deficiencies, over watering, a lack of chlorophyll or disease.


The process of breaking up the soil surface to prepare for planting. It improves soil aeration and promoted better water drainage, giving plants an improved soil environment in which to grow.



A method of plant propagation that involves taking cuttings from a parent plant and placing into a growing medium in order to produce new plants.

Dead Head

Removing dead flowers from the plant so that it continues to produce new ones. Dead heading prevents the plant from going to seed, and will mean that it flowers for longer.


A plant or tree that sheds its leaves in winter. Most native British trees drop their leaves in autumn and become dormant through the winter months. This helps them to conserve energy when there are less hours of sunlight in which to photosynthesise.


A type of plant that prefers acidic soil and will not grow successfully in alkaline soils. Lime or chalk-based soils have an alkaline pH, meaning ericaceous plants such as blueberries would struggle.


A plant that retains its leaves throughout the year. Evergreen plants and trees are popular in gardens as they add colour and texture through the winter months when most other trees are dormant.


The leaves of a plant.


When a seed starts to grow. There are a number of different germinating methods, including submersing the seeds in water, using wet paper towels, or planting directly into the soil.

Hardening off

Gradually acclimatising plants that have been grown indoors, inside a greenhouse or under protection to outside weather conditions. This might involve moving the plants outdoors for a few hours during the middle of the day at first, and gradually increasing the time outside, so that when they are planted into the soil they are hardy enough to cope with varied weather conditions.


Loose material laid over the soil in order to prevent weeds from growing and keep the soil moist. Leaves, bark or other organic matter is most commonly used, but plastic sheeting, old carpet or commercial products can also work effectively.



A plant that lives for several years. Perennial plants are usually hardy enough to survive through the winter months, thus making them a long-term and affordable addition to the garden.


Also known as de-thatching, scarifying involves removing the dead thatch that builds up over time within a lawn. Grasses reproduce through both seed and by growing side shoots. The side shoots help your grass to grow into a thick and healthy turf, but over time some side shoots will die. If your turf becomes too choked by dead shoots, the living grass will struggle to grow, resulting in an unhealthy lawn. Scarifying removes the dead grass, allowing water and nutrients to penetrate the soil, and encouraging the healthy grass to flourish.


Sowing is the act of planting seeds. Some seeds can be sown outdoors, while others will fare better if they are sown indoors and moved outside once they have germinated. Certain seeds should be sown at a specific time of year – the seed packet should provide guidance on the best time to sow.


A term to describe the health of the soil. It includes nutrient balance, water, air and PH. A healthy soil with good physical qualities is in good tilth.


Landscaping or gardening in a specific way in order to reduce the need for additional watering. Xeriscaping involves using mainly native plant species that are suited to the specific environment – for example by planting species that retain water in dryer areas, and plants that flourish in wet soil in areas prone to waterlogging.

Now you’re well-versed in gardening terminology,  why not visit our homepage or call us today on 0208 44 2555 for more gardening advice and our huge range of supplies.

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