A to Z of useful gardening terms

If you are new to gardening and reading up on the subject, it can be quite scary and confusing what all the various gardening terms mean. To help out we’ve had a quick A to Z to help get you going quickly.


A must do garden task. Aerating your lawn requires you to punch small holes into the soil using an aerator or garden fork. This moves the soil allowing it to expand, relieving compaction. Compaction is where soil is pushed together tightly, removing the gap between the soil particles. Aeration recreates these gaps, enabling the oxygen and water to reach the grass roots more easily, which in turn encourages grass growth. Aeration should be done at least once a year.


Simple – a bulb is what you plant into the ground or in a pot to grow your flowers from. There is a wide variety to choose from and are available in almost all garden centres.

Companion Planting

Growing your own vegetables may mean a bunch of tasty crop, but it can also result in a range of pests visiting your garden which damage your crops. Companion planting is a way to combat this problem. By planting plants that attract insects that eat these pests, it helps keep them looking good and tasting even better.

Dead Heading

By dead heading (removing dead or dying parts of your plants and flowers) it means that you encourage the plant stop using valuable water, minerals etc. to grow in the areas that are dying. This promotes additional growth in the areas that are full of life and make them look better.


After mowing your lawn you may find that the lawnmower may not have cut them as neatly as you wanted. Typically homeowners do this using a grass trimmer. The best ones have a specific edging mode that tilts the cutting head at an angle to allow you to follow the edges of the lawn.


We couldn’t have an A to Z of gardening terms without mentioning Flymo. Known for over 50 years for manufacturing lawnmowers, they were the inventor of the first ever hover mower, basing its design on that of a hover craft. Their iconic orange design is instantly recognisable by almost everyone in the UK.

Green House

Structures traditionally made from glass that trap the suns heat and encourage the plants inside to grow more quickly. Greenhouses are ideal for growing tomatoes, where the soil temperature needs to be warmer than that is normally found by being outside. In recent years, a range of plastic pop up greenhouses have come on the market, for those people that wish to grow their own vegetables, but are limited in the space they have in the garden all year round.


Normally made of plastic, a garden hose is often an essential item for many gardeners. Quality watering hoses are durable yet flexible, enabling them to snake around the garden and reach the areas you need to. Remember to bring your hose in over the winter months to avoid the plastic from cracking caused by frost.

Irrigation System

If you have a large garden with lots of plants, or grow a lot of vegetables, keeping them well watered can be a problem. Automatic irrigation systems help solve this for you, and regularly provide the right amount of water to your plants at a time and day you require. These are ideal, especially if you plan on going on holiday during the summer and save you asking your neighbour for help.


The area which a leaf or leaf bud grows on the stem of the plant.

Knee Pads

If you like a beautiful looking lawn with lots of flowers, then you probably plant a lot of bulbs. This normally means a lot of bending over and kneeling on the ground which can result in sore knees. Knee pads are a must to minimise the stress and strain on your knees ensuring you ache less the following morning.

Leaf Mould

Created from leaf mulch, leaf mould is decomposed leaf mulch. Leaf mould is a great soil conditioner and helps it absorb water more easily.


Organic material that is used to cover the soil. This not only acts as insulation to keep the soil warm, but it slowly breaks down and releases its nutrients into the soil acting as fertiliser for your plants. Mulch is commonly placed around flowerbeds.


If you grow a lot of vegetables in your garden, birds can be a real problem as they eat your crops. By placing netting over your crops, helps prevent birds from getting to them, however you need to make sure that the holes in the netting are large enough to prevent birds from getting trapped. An alternative is to create a scarecrow. A quick and easy way is to tie an old CD to a pole and stake it into the ground with the CD at the top. As the wind blows it moves and scares the birds away.

Organic Material

Is material that can decompose / breakdown, generally made from large amounts of water that have not been treated by manmade substances like pesticides.


Used to speed up the growing process of seeds, a propagator raises the temperature of the soil to encourage it to germinate and grow. Simple propagators can be described as plastic tubs with a lid. The sunlight then heats up the air in the tub, much like a greenhouse. More expensive electric propagators can be bought, that allow you to control the temperature of the soil to the ideal conditions for your seeds to germinate.


Where seeds cannot germinate, caused primarily due to a lack of water.

Raised Beds

This is where gardeners elevate their flowerbeds above ground level. This is a technique commonly used by people that have poor drainage in their garden or have a garden that is prone to flooding.


Excess thatch and moss on your lawn is not only unsightly, but it is a sign of poor lawn health. Scarification removes the thatch and moss from your lawn, allowing water and sunlight to reach the soil. This promotes healthy grass growth. You can scarify your lawn using a garden rake and a bit of hard work, or do it the quick and easy way with an electric scarifier, like the Flymo Lawnrake Compact 3400.


A necessity for any keen gardener, a good garden trowel makes planting bulbs and plants a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. A good trowel is down to personal preference, but trowels with a good wooden handle are ideal and typically more comfortable than plastic ones.


This is where you grow smaller, shorter trees and plants under larger ones, creating a tiered affect. This can be particularly useful to help shelter more sensitive plants from the rain, snow and the harsh cold of winter.


Grown in the gardens of many homeowners, there are hundreds of varieties of vegetables to choose from. Easy vegetables to grow are leeks, which can be left in the ground throughout most of the year, requiring moist soil.

Water Butt

Collecting water in the wetter months is an environmentally friendly way to keep your garden healthy. A water butt collects rain water in a container that you can then use to water your plants and vegetables. Water is usually directed from guttering on the home or the green house.


The xylem transports water and nutrients from the roots around the plant.


A common term used that refers to an outside area.


Or a courgette to most of us. They are dark or light green in colour.