The 10 bits of lingo every novice gardener needs to know | homify

The 10 bits of lingo every novice gardener needs to know

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When you first start getting to grips with a new hobby or pastime, it can be difficult to pick up all the jargon that more experienced practitioners use and gardening is certainly no different! Words that professional landscape architects might band around with a gleeful abandon could sound like a whole other language to you, which is why we have put together this handy go-to guide that will have you sounding like an expert in no time! There's so much more to learn about your garden than grass, flowers and pathways, so come with us now to find out which buzzwords you should be using and understanding!

1. Annuals, biennials and perennials.

Modern Garden with a rustic twist Yorkshire Gardens Modern garden
Yorkshire Gardens

Modern Garden with a rustic twist

Yorkshire Gardens

These are words that you'll DEFINITELY hear, when planning out your garden, but what the heck do they mean? Essentially, they all refer to the frequency with which your chosen plants will bloom!

An annual is a plant that germinates, blooms and dies within one year. It won't regenerate at all.

A perennial will live for two or more years, entering into full life cycles of blooming, wilting and then coming back for another impressive show.

Biennials are the more complicated of the bunch in that they will last for two years, but won't normally flower until year two, meaning that they offer foliage-only for the first year.

2. Self-seeding .

Raised Borders and Seating Borrowed Space Modern garden
Borrowed Space

Raised Borders and Seating

Borrowed Space

You might think that planting anything that will only last a year or two would be a waste of time, but if you select self-seeding varieties, you'll get a constant floral display. Self-seeding plants scatter their own seeds during their life cycle and create a continual border without you needing to physically plants anything new.

3. Acid and alkaline soil.

Traditional Garden Unique Landscapes Country style garden
Unique Landscapes

Traditional Garden

Unique Landscapes

Your garden needs more than water and regular sunshine, as it's the nutrients in the soil that will make a real difference to your horticultural endeavours. The amount of minerals that your plants will enjoy is entirely dependent on the pH value of your soil, which you can test using a simple kit available from any garden centre. From there, you can work out which plants will thrive in your outdoor space.

A pH value below 7.0 means that you have acidic soil, while a pH value above 7.0 means you have alkaline soil. If the value is bang-on 7, you have neutral soil, which is great for a wider range of plants.

4. Taking cuttings.

Buying pretty plants can become a very costly affair, but if you've spotted something in someone else's garden that you like, you could ask to take a cutting, which means taking a small piece that you can transplant into your garden.

Generally, a stem of around 7-15cm long is perfect. Pull any leaves off your cutting, dip the exposed end into some growing accelerator, then pop the stem into a pot and cover with a breathable shroud. After a month or two, it should have started to grow and be ready for planting in the garden!

5. Deadheading.

Find a place in your garden for climbers - they will reward you with a wonderful show Perfect Plants Ltd Country style garden
Perfect Plants Ltd

Find a place in your garden for climbers—they will reward you with a wonderful show

Perfect Plants Ltd

This isn't as macabre as it sounds! Simply put, when a flower has bloomed and died, you snip off the dead head, with your finger and thumb, to make way for the next cycle. Tougher stems can be tackled with scissors or secateurs. Don;t forget to wait until your blooms have actually wilted though!

6. Pricking out.

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Juliana Anthracite Grey Oasis 12x12 Greenhouse


If you're going to be starting new plants from seeds, pricking out is something you need to do! It refers to that moment that second leaves are starting to emerge on your seedlings, whereby you gently separate individual new plants, to give them a little more space. If you don't do this, roots will become tangled up and none of the plants will grow to their full potential. Give each new plant its own pot and watch them thrive! 

7. Staking.

Tall plants, especially vegetables, tend to get to a certain height and then suffer under their own weight, which is why some support is essential! Staking is literally that process and you can select the right style from a number of options. Some people like to use wire frames, but others take a simpler route, with bamboo canes, cut to size and plants tied gently to them.

8. Chelsea chop.

We know this sounds like some fancy food recipe, but in reality, a Chelsea chop is a term used to describe a very aggressive form of perennial pruning, which results in far bushier displays. Tackled at the end of May or the beginning of June, you should trim plants to a third of their size with shears or secateurs. This will delay flowering and give you an incredible display!

9. Hardening off.

Elite Thyme Dwarf Wall 8ft Wide Greenhouse homify Garden Greenhouses & pavilions

Elite Thyme Dwarf Wall 8ft Wide Greenhouse


Growing seeds in a greenhouse is a great way to get going, but if you then suddenly transplant them outside, the shock of harsher elements could actually shock them into perishing! Poor seedlings! This is why gardeners embrace a period of 'hardening off', which is when they gradually, over a period of a few weeks, expose their seedlings to slightly less clement conditions, in a bid to toughen them up! Withholding water a little and transferring seeds to a cold frame are the most common techniques.

10. Pinching back.

Small urban garden Ruth Willmott Modern garden
Ruth Willmott

Small urban garden

Ruth Willmott

For full, bustling displays in your garden, you need to be encouraging new multiple stems to grow. A simple way to do this is to prune your plants right back, to just above a couple of leaf nodes. You can do this with your hands, hence the term, but gird your loins, as you need to be ruthless!

For even more garden tips, take a look at this Ideabook: 14 pro landscaping tips every novice gardener can try.

Are you feeling more well-equipped in terms of your gardening knowledge now?

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