DeKalb Master Gardener Association
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Guide for New Gardeners in DeKalb County, GA
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The DeKalb Master Gardener Association is just that — an  association of about 40 Master Gardeners and friends in DeKalb County, Georgia.  The organization was formed to foster more extensive educational, community service, and social events for interested Master Gardeners. 

DMGA is classified as a "Master Gardener volunteer organization outside the UGA university structure" and receives no support or public funds through the Cooperative Extension Service.  For information about the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service, please visit the following website:




Are you new to gardening? 

Or new to gardening in DeKalb County, Georgia?

Gardening in the South has unique rewards and challenges.  To get started, here are a few statistics about the local climate:

  • DeKalb County is located in USDA Hardiness Zone 7B, leaning toward Zone 8A in recent years.  You can expect winter temperatures as low as 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • Our average first frost date in the fall is November 16, ranging usually from October 31 to December 1. 
  • Our average last frost date in the spring is March 24, ranging usually from March 3 to April 14.  Early spring warm spells can cause perennials and buds to emerge, then be damaged by late cold snaps.
  • Our average annual rainfall is about 50 inches, however, our rainfall levels vary wildly from year to year.  Be prepared for extended periods of drought or periods of more than ample rain—often in the same year.

One of the best sources for in-depth gardening information in Georgia is The University of Georgia's College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.  They're the first line of horticultural knowledge available to Master Gardeners in Georgia.  As you scroll through the topics below, you'll see links to some of the UGA Cooperative Extension publications that we find most useful to home gardeners.

[Most documents below are linked in HTML form so they will display quickly on your browser.  Many of them are also available in PDF format which can be downloaded to your computer and can be printed in a more aesthetically pleasing format; to do that, look for the text "PDF" inside the document, near the top.]


Choosing new plants for your garden or landscape is one of the joys of gardening. 

  • Pay attention to whether a plant is designated for shade or sun, and site it accordingly.  Most shade loving plants like a little filtered sun or even some early morning sun, but they need to be protected from the hot afternoon sun.  Even plants described as "Full Sun" may enjoy some relief from the brutal afternoon sun here in Georgia.
  • Site plants where you can accommodate their moisture requirements.  You'll need to pay special attention to new plantings for the first year until they're "established."
  • Consider the mature size of the plants you select.  You'll save yourself lots of pruning effort in years to come by choosing a plant that does not outgrow the vertical or horizontal space you have available.
The following are lists of plants that "work" in Georgia:

»  Landscape Plants for Georgia  (B 625)  Good plants for Georgia organized by Vines, Ground Covers, Ornamental Grasses, Trees, and Shrubs with concise notes about form, size, and other characteristics

»  Georgia Gold Medal Plants  Annually selected best annual, perennial, shrub, tree, and vine/ground cover for Georgia

»  Flowering Perennials for Georgia Gardens  (B 944)  Choosing perennials

»  Flowering Bulbs for Georgia Gardens  (B 918)  Succeeding with bulbs in Georgia

»  Native Plants for Georgia - Part 1:  Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines  (B 987)  Using native plants in the landscape  [USER NOTE:  For detailed plant information, select a plant category from the "Contents" section.]

»  Native Plants for Georgia - Part 2:  Ferns  (B 987-2)  Guide to ferns in Georgia

»  Native Plants for Georgia - Part 3:  Wildflowers  (B 987-3)

»  Native Plants for Georgia - Part 4:  Grasses and Sedges  (B 987-4)


"Moist well-drained soil" is what we aim for.  It's the perfect soil for so many plants.  Unfortunately, many DeKalb County landscape soils are acidic red clay.  They hold moisture well, but drain poorly and are prone to compaction, making plant rot a possibility.  To improve drainage and soil tilth, add amendments like dried manure, granite sand, ground pine bark, and compost.  You can make your own compost from yard trimmings.  DeKalb County residents can pick up free County Compost which is excellent for improving soil structure, but is NOT recommended for vegetable gardens.  The best way to determine what nutrients your soil needs—before you start planting—is by getting a soil test through the DeKalb County Cooperative Extension Service; call 404-298-4080 for details.

»  Soil Preparation and Planting Procedures for Ornamental Plants in the Landscape  (B 932)  Step-by-step guidelines for planting success

»  Composting:  Recycling Landscape Trimmings  (C 981)  An introduction to composting

»  Composting and Mulching  (C 816)  How to compost


Indispensable turfgrass management calendars for taking care of your lawn in Georgia:  [small PDF files]

    » Bermudagrass Lawn Calendar
    » Centipedegrass Lawn Calendar
    » St. Augustinegrass Lawn Calendar
    » Tall Fescue Lawn Calendar
    » Zoysiagrass Lawn Calendar

»  Selecting Lawn Grasses  Comparison of popular turfgrass options for Georgia  [large PDF file]

»  Turfgrass Diseases in Georgia:  Identification and Control  (B 1233)  Diagnosis guide


»  Vegetable Garden Calendar  (C 943)  A month by month guide for planning your work

»  Vegetable Gardening in Georgia  (C 963)  General culture and fertilization guidelines for vegetables

»  Vegetable Planting Chart  (from B 577)  Concise 2-page chart of planting dates and recommendations for individual vegetables [PDF]

» Home Gardening  (B 577)   And even more about setting up a productive home vegetable garden

»  When to Harvest Vegetables  (C 935)  Tips for determining the optimal stage of maturity of vegetables

»  Georgia Home Grown Tomatoes  (B 1271)  All about this home gardener's favorite:  methods of growing, varieties, problems and pests

»  Blossom-End Rot of Tomatoes  (C 938)  What's wrong with your tomatoes?

»  Disease Management in the Home Vegetable Garden  (C 862)  Preventing and controlling diseases 


»  Herbs for Southern Gardens  (B 1170)  Culture and use of herbs 

»  Gardening in Containers  (C 787)  Growing plants in limited space and for special effects 


»  BMP in the Landscape  (C 873)  A summary of Best Management Practices for installation, irrigation, fertilization and pruning

»  Common Landscape Diseases in Georgia  (B 1238)  Recognizing diseases that may affect shrubs, trees, flowers and turfgrasses

»  Shade and Street Tree Care  (B 1031)  How to keep your trees healthy

»  Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape  (B 961)  An overview of how and when to prune shrubs, conifers, vines, ground covers, hedges, espalier, and topiary

»  Basic Principles of Pruning Woody Plants  (B 949)  How plants respond to pruning


If you're on the verge of a new landscaping project, you may as well think about making the most of your water resources by grouping your plants according to their water requirements.  While watering restrictions have become the norm in DeKalb County, Georgia, there is no need for you to resort to desert plants.  

»   Xeriscape:  Seven Steps to a Water-Wise Landscape  (C 895-1)  A summary of landscape xeriscaping fundamentals


Select Gardening Links from the menu at the left.  From our web links page, you can access DeKalb County and Georgia resources, as well as the complete list of UGA Cooperative Extension publications.




Got a gardening problem you've been puzzling over?
Not sure what your lawn
requires to keep looking
its best? 

Get the answers you need:
Ask a DeKalb Master Gardener
Questions are usually answered within one business day.

Call:  404-298-4080
or email: