The Gardening Glossary

January 29, 2020
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For those of you just starting out or taking your gardening skills to the next level, there may be some technical terms which make things seem complicated and/or difficult. They’re not! Let’s break down some of the most common technical terms which might be boggling your brain, and get to know what they mean.


Aeration is the simple process of alleviating compact soil and getting air into it to open up cavities to allow fresh air, nutrients and water to move around freely. You can easily aerate soil by using a pitchfork and digging into the soil. This is a great solution for most domestic lawns and soil which aren’t suffering from major compaction. However, if there is no growth at all, or the soil is hard and cracked, a more robust piece of equipment such as a tine aerator (or corer) will need to be used. This does as it says on the tin, it cores out cylinders of soil to allow it to breathe.

garden glossary soil aeration


Germination is the growth from seed to leaf, fruit, veg etc. This process is activated by heat, water, air and light and all of these conditions need to be right and consistent for the growing process to start.


Really just a fancy word for freeze! For example, wildflowers have to undergo stratification to help kickstart the germination process. Cold conditions help bring seeds out dormancy, or their sleep mode. For most seeds, this process is covered by cold temperatures through winter where the seeds hard coat is softened by frosts and the seeds embryo is triggered to grow, as it grows and expands it will break through the now softened seed coat.


This is the process of removing moss and thatch from and in your lawn. Moss and thatch stunt lawn growth so it is essential lawn care to ensure a green and luscious lawn. This can be done using a rake or electric scarifier to rip out and remove moss and thatch.

garden glossary scarify


Wondering what we were talking about with thatch? Thatch is a dead layer of grass that sits on top of your lawn hindering the rooted grass below. You will notice more of a thatch build up through autumn and winter when the lawn is less in use, and as it holds water well, will contribute to waterlogging through the wetter months. Thatch also warms and up and dries out quickly damaging the roots below by depriving them of sunlight, so keep an eye on your lawns through spring and summer. Thatch is easy to remove with a simple scarify.

garden glossary thatch


Compaction refers to compacted soil which is hard, cracked and prone to flooding from the inability to drain. The most common cause is from heavy traffic or lack of watering. You will also find that very little is able to grow in compacted soil as the necessary air, nutrients and water are missing. This can be easily resolved with aeration.

garden glossary compaction


When a lawn has been neglected and nothing grows or when sowing grass seed onto soil for a new lawn, a good and thorough rotovating is a good idea. Rotovating is the process of breaking up and churning over soil to form a new foundation, followed up by raking over to finalise the new level and form a seedbed giving grass the best chance of growing. Examples of  situations where rotovating is advisory are new build properties where the soil has been left without turf or applying grass seed or a lawn which has been severely neglected. Not all lawns will need rotovating entirely, lawns where the grass grows but has patches here and there will not need this type of attention. Rotovating equipment can be rented.

garden glossary rotovation

Annual & Perennial

Terms used to describe types of plants. For annual plants and flowers, the clue is in its name, they appear (have one bloom) annually between 1 and 2 months after they are sown. Perennials are types that appear (or have a bloom every year) year after year.


Established refers to a lawn 1 year from being sown when it is thorough rooted into the ground and has gone through a full growing season, multiple cuts and a few feeds. Fertilisers can be applied to a new lawn but avoid feeds, weed and moss killers until the lawn has reached establishment. For plants and shrub, established refers to the point at which a newly planted trees, shrubs, plants or ground cover begins to produce new growth; as fresh foliage or new stems. On average it takes approximately 1 year for shrub roots to become established and 3 years for trees.

garden glossary established


Fertiliser is really good for grass, plants and fruit and veg as it supplies all the nutrients to help a strong and healthy growth. Fertilisers will include nitrogen (N), phosphate (P) and potassium (K) which help to make up an NPK. Different fertilisers ahve different levels of NPK to improve different areas of growth. For example, a quick release fertiliser has higher Nitrogen than a slow release fertiliser, to give a quick burst and boost of greenness to your lawn, whereas a slow release fertiliser has a lower level of this nutrient so that it is released steadily.


Nitrogen (N) – gives the lawn its lush green colour by stimulating leaf growth and helping to establish the lawn.

Phosphate (P) – builds up the root system and improving seed to soil contact.

Potassium (K) – hardens grass so that it builds up an immunity and tolerance to disease and drought.


For more information, of if you have any terms you would like adding to the glossary, call or email Customer Services on 0330 058 5068 option 2 /, open Monday- Friday 8am – 5pm.

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