The 4 Biggest Problems and Challenges With Landscaping in Middle Georgia

Our landscapes here in Central Georgia are located far enough away from the coast to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Matthew’s rampage earlier this month. But even though we are sheltered from the brunt of nature’s fury when it comes to hurricanes and tropical storms, Middle Georgia landscaping presents its own challenges unique to our area.

A Land Of Contrasts

“Middle Georgia” refers to the area roughly 75-100 miles around Macon, including the communities of Forsyth, Dublin, Milledgeville, Hawkinsville, Perry, Eastman, Fort Valley, and surrounding areas. Despite its relatively small size, this area’s geology and climate are actually extremely diverse.

Our region happens to be located smack dab on the Fall Line, an ancient seashore that extends in a diagonal line right across Georgia. The Fall Line marks the boundary between the Piedmont region of rolling hills east of the Appalachians, and the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Conditions above and below the Fall Line can be completely different, which explains in part why middle GA landscaping can be so challenging.

Let’s explore how our geography contributes to some of the common obstacles folks face when it comes to landscaping in the Heart of Georgia.

1. Understanding Middle Georgia Soils

red clay soil.jpgSoils are the foundation of all landscaping. Central GA soils are vastly different depending on which side of the Fall Line you happen to be on. On the north side we have a lot of clay soils. Below the Fall Line you’ll find a lot of sandy soils, sometimes with a little loamy topsoil. You can travel a mile in any direction from some locations and you may find everything from heavy red clay to sandy loam, clay loam, or deep black sandy soils.

What landscaping challenges does this present? One is that shrubs and trees in our area may be grown in a very different environment than where they’re planted, even if they’re grown locally. Years of experience have taught us that trees grown with a clay root ball establish more quickly and thrive better in our area than ones grown in a potting mix, regardless of what type of soil they’re going into. This has led us to become very selective about the local suppliers we use.

Soil type also impacts the irrigation methods and systems we use. In our area it’s hugely important to be very aware of soil composition when it comes to irrigation. For instance, the irrigation system we design for a property on primarily clay soil will  be very different than one on loam, even if the properties adjoin.

2. Drainage Concerns In The Heart Of Georgia

You can’t discuss soil types without addressing drainage. We see as many landscaping problems in middle Georgia from poor drainage on clay as we do from lack of water on sand.

Above the Fall Line, we are mostly concerned with lack of drainage, due to the heavy clay soils. Most plants don’t care for wet feet. Just as wet feet led to significant health problems for soldiers in WWI, middle GA drainage issues create “wet feet” issues such as dead branches, root rot and limp, yellowed leaves. Some of our favorite techniques to address this issue include:

  • Installing subsurface drainage to relieve overly wet soils
  • Incorporating sand, compost, and other materials to improve soil drainage
  • Building raised beds, especially for seasonal color and some shrub plantings
  • For some trees we may ‘plant high’ - planting into a little raised mound around the roots to ensure the plant doesn’t end up with wet feet

sandy soil in Georgia.jpg

In the southeastern portion of middle Georgia where sandy soils are common we are often faced with the opposite problem: soil that drains so quickly that it’s challenging to keep it moist enough. To counteract this problem we often incorporate compost and/or a product called Terra-Sorb, an inert polymer that helps retain moisture around the roots of plants.

In either environment it’s essential to understand when we need to move water away and when we need to attract water to parts of the landscape to ensure that plants thrive and that hardscape areas remain useable.

Another drainage issue we think every landscaper should be aware of is how moisture interacts with homes and other buildings on site. The way you provide drainage around a home’s foundation is super critical to the health of the home and its occupants. Moisture near the foundation can very easily make its way into the home, where it can cause untold damage, including mold issues and structural problems. From making sure that a design build project is properly drained to covering up vents when working around a home’s foundation, we believe every landscaper should be proactive about moisture control.

3. Climate Concerns For Middle Georgia Landscaping

In addition to being located on the Fall Line, Middle Georgia also sits right on the dividing line between climate zones 8A and 8B. We humans aren’t that sensitive to the difference, but some plants are. For instance, cherry trees do fine in the upper Macon, Milledgeville, Forsyth, and lower Atlanta areas. However, if you live just 50 miles to the southeast, such as near Dublin, Hawkinsville, Sandersville, or Swainsboro, don’t even think about planting them. They just won’t make it.

So, we Central Georgia landscapers really have to pick our plants. There are things that will thrive in portions of our area but will suffer and die in other parts. Books won’t tell you that, neither will nursery cards, and rarely will garden center workers. You have to rely on the kind of wisdom that can only be acquired by actually working in the field. A quarter century’s experience is worth a lot.

4. Finding Quality Landscape Products And Contractors In Central Georgia

Middle GA is diverse in another way as well: we have a few urban locations and plenty of rural areas. If you’re not in an urban or metro area it’s often difficult to find a great place to buy plants and supplies, or to find competent contractors.


Before you hire a landscape contractor in middle Georgia, we highly recommend doing your homework to find educated and experienced suppliers, contractors and designers who can assist you in getting the best return on investment for your job. Check out our recent post for a few we can vouch for. Or, to find out more about how we can help you with your middle GA landscaping needs, call our Macon office at 478-750-7733, or our East Dublin office at 478-272-3878. Or if you prefer, contact us online and we’ll be in touch just as soon as we can!

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Topics: Commercial Landscape Maintenance