The New Homeowners Guide to Atlanta Landscaping

By Tara Hickock The deal is done, the documents are signed, and your family is now ready to move into your dream Atlanta home. Trees, shrubbery, florals, gardens, and hardscaping are part of the picture, but with so many other things to do, you want those landscaping projects to be as easy as possible. In Georgia’s temperate climate, the planting season and USDA hardiness zones are guidelines for adding trees, shrubs, and gardens.

Trees and Shrubs

Most homes already have trees, flower beds, and maybe a backyard garden. If you want to add to that, choose native trees, shrubs, and vines that adapt well to the soil as they protect it from erosion. Native plants and flowers practically grow themselves, needing little water or fertilizer. Low-maintenance plants like butterfly weed and wild bleeding heart are also more resistant to pests. In Georgia’s USDA hardiness zones of 6b to 8b, trees like oaks, maples, southern magnolias, and sweetgum bring color and wildlife to your landscape. Pollinator gardens attract bees and butterflies. Atlanta’s tree ordinance regulates what size and where you can plant trees and shrubs. It also requires you to get a permit to remove any existing trees.

Landscaping and Plumbing

Thickening plant roots spread underground. Roots that grow close to the house may wrap around or push through drain pipes. In city neighborhoods, thickening roots can crush sewer pipes. Consult a professional to determine if tree roots on your property are spreading under the house foundation or into nearby sewage. Being proactive is better than being reactive, especially when the repair bill comes.

Fawn Over the Lawn

A happy lawn is green, trimmed and watered as needed, weed-free, and able to withstand heavy foot traffic.
  • Spring: Treat warm-season grass with a low-release nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Summer: Aerate warm-season turf in late spring or early summer.
When you mow the lawn weekly, grass clippings become natural fertilizer. But if you let that chore go, long grass clippings can lead to thatch buildup on the turf. In that case, it’s best to bag the clippings.

Backyard Living

Privacy and security are crucial if you want to spend time out in your backyard. High fencing keeps prying eyes at bay, especially if there’s a pool in the yard. Dogs and children are safer within the perimeter of the property. Build a pergola where you can hang screens, vines, canopies, draping fabric, flowering plants, and light strings. You may prefer a gazebo made with wood, stone, metal, or synthetic materials. Benches, lighting, hanging baskets, and streamers create a cozy atmosphere.


Cut down on lawn mowing by adding walkways, stairs, retaining walls, patios, and other stone, concrete, wood, and brick structures. If your new yard doesn’t have a pool (and wouldn’t it be nice to have one for playing in the hot Atlanta summer sun!), consider adding a swimming spot, complete with an outdoor shower. Fire pits, barbecues, an outdoor kitchen, and ceramic planters also make your yard more inviting and ready for that next dinner party.

Less Yard Work = More Playtime

If you’re adding new landscaping to your home, make it easy on yourself. Plant low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants and add some technology to save time and energy.  You can turn on your lights or sprinklers with the tap of a cell phone. Apps also identify plant diseases and insects, and they can turn on the sprinkler with voice control. Let your yard work for you, not the other way around. Outdoor Makeover & Living Spaces help you along the way. We specialize in creating your dream outdoor living space. A flower garden with proper landscaping can be the start of that dream. Not only will we consider natural factors, we listen to your personal preferences. Tara Hickock is an interior designer who also designs and decorates outdoor living spaces. Her designs focus on bringing the outdoors inside to give homes a natural touch. She recently remodeled her own home and created a screened-in sunroom for her guests to enjoy the outdoors, even in winter.