Garden Glossary

Understanding basic gardening terms

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Garden Glossary brought to you by D&G Gardens and Crafts

  • Damping off – A fungus that affects seedlings causing the stem to rot and the plant to die. Using a sterilized seed starting mix, providing good air circulation and not over-watering can help prevent this.
  • Dead heading – The removal of flowers that have begun to wither and dry up. This can promote continued flowering in the plant or can be used to prevent the plant from spreading its seed.
  • Dethatch – To remove dead stems from lawn grasses. A dethatching rake can help accomplish this.
  • Direct sowing – The act of germinating seeds in the same area that you want them to grow in. This is done for plants that do not like to be transplanted.
  • Dividing – Splitting a plant, usually a perennial or annual to make more than one plant. Dividing perennials can help rejuvenate the plant and should be done every 3-4 years or whenever the center of a plant begins to die out. Read more here.
  • Dormancy – The period of life in a plant when growth slows greatly and the plant essentially rests for a period of time. This usually occurs in winter or mid-summer depending on the type of plant being grown.
  • Double digging – Improving the soil be digging down between 8-12 inches and setting that soil aside and then digging down again another 8-12 inches and setting that soil aside in a different location. Many times this is done in a trench style along the length of a garden bed. Once the digging is done, you will add soil amendments like compost, aged manure or leaf mold and then put the soil back on the area, layering between soil amendments and the soil that you dug up. This is a great way to break up compacted soils in smaller areas without any expensive equipment.
  • Drip line – Trees and shrubs have branches. If you watch where the water drips off the end of each branch all around the plant that is the drip line. You generally want to water a mature tree or shrub around the drip line and away from the trunk.

  • Erosion - The washing away or wearing away of soil by water or wind. Erosion can be prevented by growing plants in barren areas.
  • Espalier – Pruning and training a tree to grow flat against a wall, trellis or wires set up in a specific pattern. This is a great technique for growing fruit trees in small spaces.
  • Evaporation – The process by which water is returned back to the air, aided by wind and high temperatures. The lower the relative humidity, the faster evaporation can take place. Mulching the soil can help reduce evaporation.
  • Evergreen – A plant that never loses its leaves or needles no matter what the season.

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