We have decided to add a page of commonly used terminology in the landscaping and property maintenance industry. There are many property owners who are either new to home ownership, or are just unclear about some of the services and terms often used. We believe an informed client is a content client and would like to further our mission of building a gardening community by clarifying these details. 


Acid Soil: Soil with pH level less than 7.0. A soil test will determine your soil’s pH level and recommend lime or sulfur adjustments.

Alkaline Soil:  Soil with pH level more than 7.0. A soil test will determine your soil’s pH level and recommend lime or sulfur adjustments.

Aeration and Compaction:  Aeration is the process of removing sections of soil, called plugs, to help oxygen, water and nutrients reach the root zone of turfgrass. This is a common solution to correct compacted soils, which occurs when soil becomes so packed down that it is hard and impenetrable. Compacted soils typically inhibit air and water distribution to the root zone of your grass, which can lead to dead patches of lawn.

Annual: A plant that completes its life cycle in a single year. There are cool season annuals and warm season annuals, both of which may be present in a garden.


Bed: An area designated and prepared to maintain plants.

Biennial: A plant with a two-year life cycle.

Blade: The leaf portion of the grass plant that is formed from the shoot.

Blend: Combination of two or more varieties/cultivars of the same species

Broadleaf weeds: Dandelion, chickweed, clover or other weeds that grab resources away from turf and disrupt the lawn’s texture.


Clippings: The cut off parts of grass blades as a result of mowing. Grass blades are high in water content and decompose readily and quickly.

Compacted Soil: Hard, impenetrable soil usually due to neglect, excessive traffic, and/or improper cultivation.

Complete Fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer product containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace elements.

Compost: The resulting product of decomposed organic matter used for amending the soil.

Contact Herbicide: Affects only the portions of the plant in which it comes in contact.

Crabgrass – This grass grows high, has branching stems and often has purplish tones. Crabgrass spreads easily and crowds out other kinds of grass.

Crop: The new flush of wanted or unwanted plant growth i.e. grass, weeds, etc.

Cultivate: To nurture and promote growth of grass plants.


Decompose: The process and rate at which living organisms decay.

Disease: A pathogen that infects plants, the effects of which result in abnormal growth, anomalous appearance, damage, or death to the grass plants.

Dormancy: The survival mechanism of the grass plants in reaction to unfavorable environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures or drought.

Dormant Seeding: Planting grass seeds during conditions that do not favor germination or growth in anticipation of a prepared state when conditions are more favorable. Sometimes called winter seeding and often done during winter when temperatures do not promote germination, expecting the seeds will germinate and the grass will grow in spring.

Drop Spreader:  A device that dispenses substances directly downward used to uniformly distribute seeds, pesticide, or fertilizer over a given area.

Drought: Drought is a term used to describe a period when there is either limited precipitation or no precipitation at all. Drought often stresses plants, including grass, and it can slow growth or lead to plant death.


Erosion: The event that moves the productive layer of soil to another location. Wind or water can cause erosion in the absence of grass or other plant life that otherwise serve to bind the soil and prevent erosion.

Evaporation: Vaporization and loss of moisture from the surfaces soil and leaves.


Fertilizer: Fertilizer is a mixture of organic or man-made materials that is placed on the lawn to promote growth by providing grass’ essential nutrients. These nutrients are usually nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Fertilizer Burn: The effect on plant roots by some fertilizers that gives the top growth a burned appearance. This can happen when too much fertilizer is applied. It can also kill the grass.

Friable: Good soil rich in organic matter that readily allows water, air, and fertilizer to penetrate.

Fungicide: A pesticide formulated to control, suppress, or eradicate fungal disease.

Fairy Ring:  Mushroom in a circular ring, naturally occurring in lawns. In the center of the fairy ring is dark green grass. Mushroom spores spawn underground and fan out in every direction, searching for nutrients.

Fertilizer:  Inorganic or organic compounds that encourage plant growth by providing nutrients.

Fertilization: The correct application and amount of fertilizer promoting flowering and growth in plants and grass. Also referred to as “feeding.”

Foundation plants:  Shrubs and trees that add to a home’s appearance when situated next to the home’s foundation.


Germinate: The developmental stage from seed to sprout, the point at which plant parts initially break through the seed surface.

Grading: The process of contouring a landscape to control the direction of water flow.

Grass-Cycling: When you mow your lawn and allow the grass clippings to remain on the lawn instead of bagging them, you’re grass-cycling. This process is beneficial to your lawn, as the clippings rapidly decompose and return valuable nutrients to the soil.

Groundcovers: Low-growing plants used for ornamental purposes and sometimes planted as substitute for grass.

Growing Season: The time of year grass actively grows and propagates and is the best time for planting and fertilizing.


Hardpan: Dry, hard soil unable to absorb air, water, and nutrients and therefore unable to support plant life or other living organisms..

Herbicide: A dry or liquid pesticide substance formulated to kill or control weeds and/or grass..

Humus: The result of fully decomposed organic matter that constitutes the organic portion of the soil.

Hybrid: The product of two different species through artificial breeding for desirable traits.


Insecticide: A dry or liquid pesticide substance formulated to kill insects.


Leaching: Loss of available nutrients occurring when water flushes them through the soil past the root zone.

Life Cycle: The expected span of a plants life.

Lime: When soil test reveals high acidity, lime is recommended to raise the soil pH level and bring it into balance.

Loam: Soil composition that is a balanced mixture of sand, silt and clay, which is ideal for grass plants.


Macronutrients: The primary nutrients grass plants need – nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium.

Mechanical Cultivation: Any cultural practice that utilizes small or large tools or equipment. Raking, power raking, core aerating, mowing, and tilling are examples of mechanical cultivation.

Micronutrients: Nutrients the grass plants need in small amounts – chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum..

Microorganisms: Living plants or animals (such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoa) that are so small they can be seen only with the aid of a microscope.

Mulch: Bulked organic material spread on top of soil to reduce water loss or prevent the growth of weeds.

Mulching Mower: A mower specifically designed to finely cut grass clippings and dispense them back into the lawn.


Native Grasses: Naturally-growing grasses that are most adapted to a region.

Non-Selective: Herbicide that affects all plant life without respect for species or desirable types..


Organic: Plant and animal materials void of chemicals or synthetic (man-made) products.

Organic Gardening:  Method of gardening using plant and animal materials to control plant growth and pests without using chemicals or synthetic (man-made) products.

Overseeding or Reseeding:  When you overseed or reseed your lawn, you’re planting grass seed on top of existing turf. This process is typically used to repair bare or thin patches of lawn.


PH: The pH of a soil refers to where soil falls on a scale that measures alkalinity and acidity. Soil with a pH value below 7 is acidic, while soil with a pH above 7 is alkaline. Soils with a pH of 7, or slightly lower, are considered neutral or slightly acidic. Most plants do not thrive in highly acid or highly alkaline soil.

Pesticide: A substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, controlling, or destroying a pest. Weeds, insects, rodents, and diseases are all considered pests even though their individual remedies have references of their own, such as herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide.

Perennial: Plants that live more than one year.

Photosynthesis: The process of using the sun’s energy and moisture to convert carbon to carbohydrates for growth and sustenance.

Preemergent and Postemergent: Preemergent and postemergent are terms given to describe two methods of weed control. Preemergent herbicides are applied to your lawn before weeds appear and are preventative treatments. Postemergent herbicides are used when weeds have germinated and are visible in your lawn. Many postemergent herbicides are contact herbicides, which means they must contact the weed to kill it.

Pre-germinate: To sprout seeds before planting by soaking in water, soaking in moist towels, or by mixing with a moist growing medium such as top soil, compost, or peat and allowed to let stand until sprouting occurs.


Regime: The organized, scheduled, and executed routine or system of cultural practices.

Renovate: Any level of necessary restoration from repairing problem areas to overseeding to completely killing off existing grass to start over from scratch.

Roller: A round tank or barrel attached to a handle used to grade the soil surface or to compress seeds for better soil contact. Weight is controlled by adding water.

Root Zone: Depth of grass plant roots within the soil.

Rotary Tiller: Also known as rototiller, a machine powered by gas or electric used to cultivate the soil with rotating tines or blades.

Runoff: Water flowing over the soil that the soil was unable to absorb.


Scalping:  Mowing practice that removes too much of the leaves at once. It can cause extreme stress and weaken or kill the grass.

Scalping:  Scalping, when discussing lawn care, occurs when you’ve mowed your lawn too short. The result is extremely stressed grass that is weakened. In some cases, scalping can cause the grass to die.

Selective:  Herbicide that targets specific species of plant life, usually weeds according to label indications..

Slitseed: The method of using a verticutter (or vertical mower) with an attached hopper for seeding the lawn. The verticutter cuts slits in the soil as the hopper deposits seeds into the slits. Preferable for optimum seed to soil contact.

Slow Release: Water insoluble organic source or chemically altered to release nutrients at a slower rate. Will not burn or leach.

Snow mold: This disease is caused by a fungus and develops in cool, wet weather. It can lead to crown and root rotting under winter snows.

Sod: Squares or strips of turfgrass and soil cut from a production field that is used for instant lawn.

Sod and Thatch:  Sod is established grass that has been cut into strips and laid over bare soil to provide an instant lawn. The strips are usually freshly cut and contain the grass, roots and a layer of soil beneath. Thatch is a layer of living and dead plant material that is located between established grass and the soil. If you dig up an area of thatch, you’ll clearly see this layer above the soil line. Thatch limits the penetration of water and nutrients to the root zone of your grass, which can negatively affect its health and growth.

Sod Quality: Refers to seeds that are most closely inspected after harvesting for the presence of weed seeds.

Species: Distinguishing identification of grass plants belonging to a genus that share characteristics, which are different from and unrelated to any other.

Spike Aerate: The mechanical cultivation process of loosening compacted soil for friable penetration of water, air, and nutrients. Spike aerating punches holes in the soil and is performed on compacted sandy soils.

Spot Treatment: Herbicidal treatment applied to a single plant or specified small area.

Spring Greenup: The measure of the rate of transition from winter dormancy to active spring growth. It is based on plot color not genetic color.

Stratify Seeds: To prepare a seed for planting by soaking in water or by freezing.

Stratify Soil: To layer with sand and clay.


Thatch: A layer of plant debris composed of living and dead parts that accumulates between the soil and the grass blades and prevents penetration of moisture, air and nutrients to the grass roots.

Timed Release: Normally coated and water soluble. Formulated to release nutrients into the soil over a specified period of time. Prevents burning and leaching.

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

Transpiration: Vaporization and loss of moisture from within the grass plants.

Turfgrass: A general term that refers to the cultivated lawns of homes, sports fields, parks, golf courses, etc..

Turf Quality: The aesthetic and functional aspects of the lawn based on a combination of color, density, uniformity, texture, and disease or environmental stress.


Water-Soluble: Fertilizers made of components easily dissolved in water and are immediately available to the grass plants.

Wear Tolerance:  The threshold of the grass plant’s ability to withstand extreme and extended periods of high traffic conditions before permanent damage occurs.

Weeds: Unwanted plants growing in the lawn that diminish turf quality and compete for nutrients, moisture, and light. Often times, weeds are indicators of poor soil condition. Sometimes, weeds grow indiscriminately.

Winter-hardy: Grass species or varieties that best tolerate extreme cold temperatures.

Message from Timbers

We encourage everyone to use some of our tips and let us know how it worked for you. If you need more detail or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, if you lack the time to do the work yourself, drop us a line or give us a call and we’ll give you a hand with the project of your choice at a fair price as always!

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