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  December 15, 2017

Lawn and Garden Glossary

America Garden's glossary of lawn and garden terms and definitions

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


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Accent plant
This could be a focal point plant. A plant to catch attention. Could also be called an anchor plant.

A one seeded fruit which does not split open to release it's seed, ie. the "seeds" on a strawberry.

Acid rain
Rainwater that contains sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from industrial plants. There has been considerable damage done to the forests of the US and Canada.

Acid soil
Soil with pH less than 7.0. Raise soil pH (lower acidity and raise alkalinity) by adding lime.

Loosen compacted soil to allow oxygen, water and nutrients to get below the surface. Aeration is done either by punching holes into the lawn or removing plugs of soil from the lawn.

Usually used for describing a characteristic of compost heaps. Describes organisms living or occurring only in the presence of oxygen.

Organic substances added to the soil to improve moisture retention, oxygen level and nutritive content.

Alkaline soil
Soil having a pH more than 7.0. Lower soil pH (raise acidity and lower alkalinity) by adding sulfur.

Describes organisms living or occurring when oxygen is absent. Usually term used when talking about compost heaps.

A plant that completes its life cycle in a single year.

Insects that look like black, yellow, green or white grains of rice. Aphids suck the juices of new growth on plants.

Apical bud
Also called terminal bud. Apical buds are at the tip of a plant stem.

Plant which grows partially or completely in water.

A free standing structure used in the garden to support vines or climbing plants of all sorts for shade, a walkway, or just a focal point. This term is sometimes used interchangeably with pergola.

A specialist who cares and maintains trees. Everything from planting, to pruning and also diagnosing and treating diseases.

This is a garden with a large collection of trees and shrubs. They are specifically grown for scientific or educational purpose.

This is a means of propagation that does not include seed production. Therefore propagating by cuttage, dividing and layering.

A structure that provides lots of above light for plants. Commercial buildings often have their foyer as an atrium. Many homes have built in atriums.


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Bacillus thuringiensis (BT)
A bacterium which will destroy the stomach cells of insects that consume it. It degrades quickly in sunlight so spray early in the evening. This biological insecticides will also kill young butterfly caterpillars.

Balled and Burlapped (B&B)
A method of plant preparation in which the entire root system is contained inside a ball of soil and wrapped in burlap for protection.

Dormant plants sold with the roots loose rather than contained in a wrapped soil ball or container.

A specific garden area in which plants are grouped together to create a unified design.

A plant with a life cycle that spans two years. The first year the plant produces stem and foliage growth. After a dormant season, they produce flowers and seeds the second year.

Prompted by warming weather, leaf crops such as spinach and cabbage stop producing leaves and send up seed stalks.

Trained and dwarfed trees and plants in special shallow containers. Bonsai mimics growth in the wild, but on a tiny scale.

Botanical name
The Latin scientific name of a plant is its botanical name. There is only one botanical name per plant so if you want a specific variety, use it's botanical name to be sure you are getting what you want. Common names tend to be confusing.

A modified leaf, sometimes colored and sometimes mistaken for a petal. Examples of house plants with showy bracts are Poinsettia, Aphelandra, and Bougainvillea.

To randomly disperse seeds or other material across a set area.

An underground modified stem, usually covered by a papery exterior. Bulbs are the growth and food source for many flowering perennials.

An immature small bulb formed on the stem of a plant: e.g. Lily.


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Cold Frame
A four-sided structure with a glass or plastic covering used to shelter young plants or transplanted seedlings from cold temperatures.

Companion Planting
Adjacent growing of mutually beneficial plants to improve growth and repel pests.

A diverse mixture of completely decayed organic matter used for fertilizing and conditioning soil.

A woody tree or shrub, primarily evergreen, that produces cones.

Container-grown trees and shrubs are ready to transplant along with the soil they have been grown in.

A bulb-like structure that serves as a continual underground food source for a flowering plant.

The uppermost part of a tree where new growth takes place or the part of a plant where the roots and stem join.

A plant variety resulting from the cross-pollination of two different plants within a species.

To assist a plant in the growing process.

Portions of root, stem, branch or leaf used to propagate plants.


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To remove flower heads from plants after they have bloomed to prolong the flowering season.

A plant that loses most or all of its leaves in fall or winter.

A plant that, by artificial or natural means, produces all of its flowers or fruit at the same time.

A method of producing new plants from existing stock by digging up the plant, cutting it into two or more pieces, and replanting.

Period of rest exhibited by no growth or flowering. Dormancy usually takes place during colder periods.

The process of moving the topsoil of one area to another area to reinvigorate the soil.

Drip line
The circumference around a plant formed by water that drips off its outermost leaves or branches.


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Method of training a plant in a formal pattern against a wall or trellis.

A plant that retains its green foliage year round and is functional for more than one growing season. Coniferous evergreens have needle-like leaves and produce seed in their cones. Broadleaf evergreens have regular leaf-shaped foliage but retain their leaves throughout the year.


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Supplement to naturally occurring element necessary for plant growth. Fertilizer can be liquid or granular and organic or inorganic (man-made).

Pertaining to the leaves (foliage) of a plant. Foliar fertilizers and pesticides are applied directly to the leaves.

Compelling plants, by artificial means, to mature quickly and produce their flowers earlier than normal.


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Development from seed to sprout. The requirements may be warmth, water or light according to the plant variety.

Propagation method performed by joining two plants by connecting the tissues of each.

Low-growing, spreading plants used for ornamental purposes, or as a substitute for grass.


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Referring to plants that can withstand long periods of damp or cold weather, but may be damaged by frost.

Harden off
The process of increasing an indoor plant's exposure to light and colder temperatures to acclimate it to outdoor conditions.

Constructed elements of a landscape such as decks, walls fences and driveways.

Referring to plants that have the ability to survive prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures.

Heel in
A method of protecting a plant by placing its stems in a shallow trench over winter.

Referring to non-woody (soft-stemmed) perennial plants that often die back to the ground every winter and reappear in the spring.

A pesticide formulated to kill or control plants.

Hoop stake
A long, thin, metal post with a perpendicular ring of wire at the top, which serves as a support for tall-growing flowers.

Dark, rich, organic soil matter made from decaying plant or animal material.

A plant that is the offspring of two parent plants of differing varieties, species, or cultivars.


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A plant that continues to produce flowers or fruit throughout the duration of the growing season.

A pesticide formulated to kill or control insects.


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Japanese Beetle
If there is one bug a gardener should know it is the Japanese beetle. Its larvae in the soil is known as the white grub that will eat the roots of your grassy lawn. When the beetle appears it eats its way through plants especially roses and leaves them like skeleton forms.

Japanese garden
A garden that is designed with a Japanese cultural influence. Using particular plants for the design. Often with a Zen influences. Bamboo, pine, mondo grasses, koi are often used.


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Knot garden
A very carefully planned garden of small dwarf shrubs or even herbs. Planned in a pattern and kept in order by constant pruning and trimming.


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Lateral bud
Buds formed on the sides of a stem.

A method of plant propagation by which a single stem of a plant is notched, and buried with its leafy tip exposed, while still attached to the parent.

Occurs when water flushes mineral substances and nutrients out of the soil.

Refers to plants that have an abnormal amount of stem in relation to their flower and foliage.

Soil amendment used to reduce acidity. Lime (calcium carbonate) is applied in powdered or pelletized form.

Ideal garden soil that has a well-balanced moisture of sand, silt and clay.


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Small areas in the home landscape that have unique characteristics regarding sun, shade, wind and/or moisture.

Any organic material spread on top of soil to reduce water loss, prevent the growth of weeds.


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A method of random garden plant distribution that simulates the growth of plants in the wild.


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New plants that branch out from the base of a plant's main stem.

Method of gardening without using synthetic (man-made) products.

A plant raised for aesthetic reasons.


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Term used to describe stone, brick or concrete materials used for patios and walkways.

A pesticide is any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. (US EPA)

There are two types. Herbaceous non-woody (soft and fleshy) plants die back each year and grow and bloom each successive year. Woody perennials (such as shrubs and trees) have a period of dormancy but maintain their form year round.

Mineral used in potting mix to retain moisture and provide aeration.

Measurement of acidity and alkalinity. pH represents hydrogen ions in the soil and signifies a plant's ability to draw nutrients from the soil.

Pinch back
A method of encouraging bushy plant growth by removing the growing tip.

Circular pieces of sod that are planted in a grid formation to start a new lawn.

To grow new plants from old ones by using one of a variety of methods.


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Retaining wall
A barrier created with stones, timbers, or boards to prevent the erosion of soil on steep slopes.

A horizontal, fleshy stem under or on the ground that sends out roots and shoots.

Container-grown plants that lack adequate space for root growth.

On grafted plants, the portion that is chosen for the qualities of it's root system. It will be grafted onto the scion.

Row cover
Nylon or synthetic netting used to cover young seedlings to protect them from predators.


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To prepare a seed for planting by cutting or nicking the outer layer.

On grafted plants, the portion that is chosen for its superior leaf- or fruit-production. It will be grafted onto the rootstock.

A plant with woody stems that is usually less than 15 ft. tall at maturity, and is either deciduous or evergreen.

Side Dress
Applying fertilizer in a circle or band around plants or rows of plants.

Soil test
A measurement of major nutrient (phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen) and pH levels in the soil.

A method of supporting tall, upright-growing plants by tying their stems to a wood or metal post.

A plant that is trained, through pruning or staking, to the form of a tree.

To prepare a seed for planting by soaking in water and then placing in a warm or cold area.

A shoot that grows from a plant's roots or from beneath the surface of the ground.


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The first root to grow from a germinating seed. Usually growing straight down, taproots help anchor the plant in the soil.

Referring to plants that are susceptible to frost and may not be able to survive freezing temperatures.

Terminal bud
The uppermost bud on a stem.

Cutting branches or stems back to the main branch to allow sunlight into the plant's center, provide air circulation and encourage remaining stems to grow in their normal direction.

A layer of plant debris that accumulates between the soil and the grass blades, and prevents the flow of moisture, air and nutrients to the grass roots.

Top dressing
Feeding plants by sprinkling fertilizer or compost on top of them.

The art of pruning and shaping trees and shrubs into decorative shapes.

The uppermost layer of soil that is the site for plant's root growth and contains the most organic matter.

Method of controlling plant growth, especially on climbing plants, by tying the stems to a support and pruning the plant back regularly.

Referring to plants possessing thick and fleshy underground roots that serve as sites for food storage.

General term used when referring to residential lawn grasses as well as varieties used in sports venues.


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A naturally grown or cultivated type of plant species.

A pattern of stripes or patches on otherwise solid-colored leaves.

Mineral used in potting mix to retain moisture and provide aeration.


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Unwanted plants that grow rampantly through other plantings, competing for food, water and light.

Referring to hard-stemmed perennial plants that are capable of surviving cold weather without dying back.


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Creating a lower maintenance landscape with native plants and reduced areas of turfgrass. A primary goal of xeriscaping is reducing landscape water consumption.


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