Livable Garden Centre | Livable Basics

Some great resources and information about gardening basics and terminology to get you started.

Collapsible content



A substance that has a pH level less than 7. It can be sour or sharp in taste like lemons or vinegar.


A substance that has a pH level of more than 7. It can taste bitter or soapy like baking soda.


Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one year. They grow, flower, produce seeds, and die within a single season. You generally need to replant them each year.


Arid refers to a climate or environment that is extremely dry, with very little rainfall. Arid regions typically have low humidity, limited vegetation, and are often characterised by desert landscapes.



Similar to an annual plant a biennial means a plant will have a full life cycle over 2-3 years. You generally need to replant them once they die back.


Bracts are special leaves found near flowers on a plant. They often look different from the plant's usual leaves and can be colourful. Bracts help attract pollinators or protect the flowers and seeds.


Calcium (Ca)

Calcium, symbolised by the letters Ca, is a macronutrient that plays a vital role in plant structure and growth. It helps build strong cell walls, supports root development, and improves overall plant health.

Climbers/Climbing Plants

Climbers or climbing plants, are plants that have the ability to attach themselves to surfaces or structures, such as walls or trellises, and grow upwards. They use specialised structures, like tendrils or clinging roots, to support themselves.


Coastal refers to areas that are located along the coast or near the shoreline. Coastal habitats are influenced by the proximity to the sea, which can result in specific environmental conditions, such as salt spray, sandy soils, and higher humidity.


A container, typically a pot or raised garden bed, offers a controlled environment for plants to grow independently of the ground or garden soil. They are available in various materials, including plastic, ceramic, clay, or wood, and come in diverse sizes, shapes, and designs.


A creeper is a type of plant that spreads along the ground or low surfaces, forming a low, mat-like appearance. It tends to creep or crawl along the soil or other surfaces.



Deciduous refers to a type of plant that sheds its leaves seasonally. Deciduous plants typically lose their leaves during a specific time of the year, often in the autumn or winter, and then regrow new leaves in the spring. This leaf-shedding adaptation allows deciduous plants to conserve water and energy during unfavorable seasons.

Dry sclerophyll woodland

Dry sclerophyll woodland is a habitat similar to wet sclerophyll forest, but found in areas with lower rainfall. It typically has a lower tree density and a more open canopy, with a mix of sclerophyll species adapted to drier conditions.


Eucalyptus forest

Eucalyptus forest is a habitat dominated by eucalyptus tree species. These forests are widespread in Australia and can vary in their characteristics depending on factors such as rainfall, soil type, and climate.



Materials applied to plants or soils to supply nutrients and improve growth. These can be found in liquid forms such as worm brew or dryer forms such as compost. All materials breakdown differently so its important to choose a fertiliser that meets the plants requirements.


Forest refers to a large area with a high density of trees. Forests typically have a closed canopy, meaning the treetops form a continuous cover, which creates shade and a relatively humid environment. Forests support a wide range of plant and animal species and are essential in the maintenance of biodiversity.



Grasslands are habitats dominated by grasses rather than trees. They can be found in both wet and dry environments and support a diverse range of grass species as well as other plants and animals adapted to this type of habitat.



The natural environment or specific place where a particular plant or animal species have been found to live and thrive. It includes all the living and non-living components of an ecosystem that provide the necessary conditions for their survival.


Heath or heathland is a habitat dominated by low-growing shrubs, typically found in areas with poor soil conditions and low water availability. Heathlands often have acidic soils and are adapted to survive in nutrient-poor environments.


Refers to the measurement from the base of the plant (at soil level) to its highest point, this is usually the top of the foliage or the tips of the tallest stems or branches. It's a key characteristic used to describe the overall size and growth habit of a plant, indicating how tall it can potentially grow under optimal conditions.

However, it's important to note that the actual height a plant achieves in a backyard setting may be somewhat smaller due to factors like available space, soil conditions, water availability, and pruning practices. Environmental conditions, such as light exposure and temperature, also play a significant role in determining a plant's growth. Therefore, while the potential height of a plant provides a guideline, the actual height achieved can vary depending on the specific growing conditions it encounters.


Herbaceous refers to plants that have soft, non-woody stems and grow above the ground. These plants typically undergo a cycle where they die back to their roots or bulbs during colder temperatures, such as autumn or winter. Their roots survive beneath the ground, and when the warmer months arrive, the plant re-sprouts, regrowing from the surviving roots. This cycle allows herbaceous plants to go dormant in harsh conditions and then come back to life when the weather becomes more favourable.





Littoral Forest

Littoral forest refers to a habitat found along coastal areas, particularly near the shoreline. It can include a mix of tree species adapted to the coastal environment and may have unique adaptations for dealing with salt spray and sandy soils.

Loam/Loamy Soil

Loam or loamy soil is a type of soil that has a balanced texture, containing a mixture of sand, silt, and clay. It has good drainage while retaining moisture and nutrients, making it ideal for most plants to grow.


Macro Nutrients

Macronutrients are essential elements that plants require in relatively large quantities for healthy growth. The three primary macronutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These nutrients are needed in larger amounts compared to micronutrients.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium, symbolised by the letters Mg, is an essential macronutrient for plants. It is a component of chlorophyll and plays a crucial role in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into energy.

Mallee area

Mallee refers to a habitat dominated by low-growing, multi-stemmed eucalyptus trees called mallees. This habitat is found in arid or semi-arid regions and is adapted to survive in dry conditions.


In gardening, media or medium refers to the material in which plants are grown. It can be soil, compost, peat moss, perlite, or a combination of these. It provides a supportive environment for the plant's roots.

Mediterranean (climate)

A Mediterranean climate is characterised by mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers, similar to the climate experienced in the Mediterranean region. It is typically found in coastal areas and is influenced by the proximity to large bodies of water, such as the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean climates often feature dry summers with little to no rainfall, while winters tend to be milder and wetter. These climates are known for their distinctive vegetation, including drought-resistant shrubs, grasses, and evergreen trees.

Micro Nutrients

Micronutrients, also known as trace elements, are essential elements that plants need in small quantities. They include iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), boron (B), and chlorine (Cl). Although plants require these nutrients in smaller amounts, they are still vital for their growth and overall health.

Mountain Slopes

Mountain slopes refer to the sloping sides of mountains or hills. These areas can have different microclimates and ecosystems compared to the lowland areas. Mountain slopes often have cooler temperatures, different soil types, and specific plant and animal communities adapted to the higher elevation and varied terrain.


A layer of organic matter used to cover the soil around a plant. Mulch is a great way to retain moisture, reduce weed growth, regulate soil temperature and add nutrients back into the soil as the mulch breaks down.



A substance that has a PH level of 7, it is considered a balanced state in terms of acidity or alkalinity.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen, symbolised by the letter N, is an essential nutrient for plants. It is crucial for leaf and stem growth, as well as the production of chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color in plants.


Obovate (Leaf Shape)

An obovate leaf shape is broader at the top half and narrows towards the base or stem. Similar to an upside down egg shape.

Open forest

Open forest refers to a habitat characterised by scattered trees with a relatively open canopy, allowing a moderate amount of sunlight to reach the ground. It typically consists of a mix of tree species, understory vegetation, and a diverse range of flora and fauna.



Perennials are plants that live for more than two years. They typically grow, flower, and produce seeds over multiple years without needing to be replanted each year.

PH (Potential of Hydrogen)

The measure of acidity or alkaline properties on a scale from 0 to 14. PH levels may influence the types of plants that will successfully grow in the soil.

The pH scale is logarithmic, meaning each unit represents a tenfold difference in acidity or alkalinity. For example, a pH of 6 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 7, and a pH of 5 is one hundred times more acidic than a pH of 7.

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus, symbolised by the letter P, is another important nutrient for plants. It is involved in energy transfer and storage, root development, and flowering. Phosphorus is particularly important for promoting strong root systems.

Potassium (K)

Potassium, symbolised by the letter K, is a vital nutrient for plants. It plays a key role in various plant functions, such as promoting root growth, improving fruit development, enhancing drought resistance, and overall plant vigor.




Rainforest refers to a habitat characterised by dense vegetation with a high canopy cover, created by tall trees that form a continuous overhead canopy. Rainforests have high humidity, abundant rainfall, and support a diverse range of plant and animal species.

Rainforest Margin

Rainforest margins refer to the transitional areas between rainforest and other habitats, such as open forests or grasslands. They often have a mix of rainforest species and species adapted to drier or more open conditions.


A rhizome is an underground stem that grows horizontally. It is characterised by its ability to produce roots and shoots at various points along its length instead of producing seeds. Rhizomes are an essential part of the plant's structure, aiding in nutrient storage and propagation.

Riparian Zones

A riparian zone is the area where land meets a river or stream, acting as a crucial environmental buffer that supports diverse plant and animal life while helping to filter and maintain the health of waterways.

Rocky Gullies

Rocky gullies refer to habitats found in valleys or narrow channels where rocks and boulders are prominent features. These areas may have specialised plant and animal species adapted to the rocky terrain and unique microclimates.



Sclerophyll refers to a type of vegetation characterised by plants with hard, leathery leaves that are resistant to water loss. Sclerophyllous plants are typically found in environments with low moisture availability, such as Mediterranean climates or dry regions.


Scrubland refers to a habitat characterised by low-growing vegetation, often composed of dense shrubs and small trees. Scrublands can occur in various environments, including coastal areas, arid regions, and mountain slopes.


Semi-arid describes a climate or environment that is characterised by limited rainfall and moisture availability, but not as extreme as arid areas. Semi-arid regions have slightly higher precipitation than arid regions but still experience prolonged dry periods.


Shrublands are habitats dominated by shrubs, with varying densities and species composition. They occur in different environments, including arid regions, coastal areas, and mountain slopes..

Soil Biome

Soil biome refers to the complex community of organisms, including bacteria, fungi, insects, and other microorganisms, that live in the soil. They play a crucial role in nutrient cycling, decomposition, and maintaining soil health.

Specimen Plant

A term we have used to describe a plant that can be grown for aesthetic appeal due to its unique characteristics or stiking features. May also be called a Feature Plant.


Spread refers to how far a plant or its branches extend horizontally. It describes the overall width or coverage area of a plant's growth.


Subalpine areas are habitats found at higher elevations, typically below the treeline but above the lowland areas. They are characterised by cooler temperatures, shorter growing seasons, and specific plant and animal species adapted to the alpine environment.


Subtropical refers to a climate zone located between the tropical and temperate zones. Subtropical regions typically have warm to hot temperatures, high humidity, and distinct seasons. They are known for their lush vegetation and diverse ecosystems.

Subtropical Coastal Rainforests

Subtropical coastal rainforests are rainforest habitats found in the coastal regions of subtropical climates. They are characterised by a mix of evergreen trees, lush undergrowth, and a high diversity of plant and animal species.

Sulfur (S)

Sulfur, symbolised by the letter S, is a macronutrient necessary for plant growth. It is involved in protein synthesis, enzyme activation, and helps with the overall health and development of plants.

Swampy Coastal Heath

Swampy coastal heath refers to a habitat found in low-lying coastal areas with poor drainage, resulting in waterlogged or seasonally inundated conditions. It is characterised by a mix of heath plants, wetland species, and adaptations to survive in waterlogged soils.


Temperate (climate)

A temperate climate is characterised by moderate and generally pleasant weather conditions. It typically has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Temperate regions experience mild to warm summers and cool to cold winters. Rain is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year, with no extreme wet or dry seasons. These climates support a wide range of ecosystems and are often characterised by deciduous forests, grasslands, and diverse plant and animal species.

Trace Elements

Trace elements, also known as micronutrients, are essential minerals that plants require in small quantities for their proper growth and development. These elements include iron (Fe), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), boron (B), and chlorine (Cl).

Tropical (climate)

Tropical refers to a climate characterised by high temperatures and abundant rainfall throughout the year. It supports diverse habitats, including rainforests, wetlands, and coastal ecosystems.





Wallum is a term used to describe a type of vegetation and associated sandy soils found in coastal areas of eastern Australia. Wallum vegetation is characterised by a mix of shrubs, heath plants, and wetland species adapted to the coastal environment.

Wet Sclerophyll Forest

Wet sclerophyll forest is a habitat characterised by tall trees with broad leaves that retain water, called sclerophyll species. It occurs in areas with higher rainfall and consists of a mix of eucalyptus and other tree species.


Woodland is a habitat characterised by a relatively open canopy with trees scattered throughout. It has a lower tree density compared to forests, with more open spaces between trees. Woodlands often have a diverse understory of grasses, shrubs, and other vegetation.




Important Notice: The information provided on this page is intended to serve as a general guide. It is your responsibility to use your own judgement and assess the suitability and reliability of the information before making any decisions. While we strive to keep our information accurate and up-to-date, various factors may affect its suitability or effectiveness.

Please be aware that Livable Garden Centre does not make any guarantees or warranties, either expressed or implied, regarding the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information, products, or graphics found on our website. Use of this website and the information contained within is at your own risk.