The best grass to plant depends on the purpose for the grass. Grass types that produces a verdant lawn may be unsuitable for grazing or hay. The soil's pH and the amount of sun and water received are also important factors in growing healthy grass. The University of Georgia is noted for its turf and grass research, and its website offers several reference and selection guides, including a guide to turf grasses, a guide to forage, hay and pasture grasses and in-depth research on agricultural grasses.
The most popular grasses for lawns in central Georgia are Zoysias and the fescues. Annual rye grass is often used throughout the state for overseeding warm season grasses when they are dormant. Perennial rye grass is used to overseed athletic fields. The list of grasses suitable for lawns on clay soil does not stop here, however. Bermuda grass, which is wear-resistant, and Augustine grass, which is shade-tolerant, are both successful when grown as lawns in clay soils. Centipede grass, however, which is popular in the coastal regions, prefers sandy soil to clay. The University of Georgia has an online guide to turf grasses that includes features, benefits, problems and usage suggestions for each type of grass.
Orchard grass, reed canary grass, endophyte-free tall fescue, Bermuda grass, and rye grass are all popular agricultural grasses. Endophyte-free tall fescue in clay soil is most successful if allowed to grow to hay stage in the first planting season and not grazed hard. The other grasses all have their excellent features, as well as inherent difficulties. In addition to the guide to turf grass available online from the University of Georgia, there's a guide to pasture, hay and forages that includes grain-bearing grasses that provide wildlife forage as well as pasture and hay. The University of Georgia has done extensive comparative research on grasses for commercial agricultural purposes. In their Research Bulletin 423, reviewed in 2009, they compare several different strains of grasses and provide a wealth of information suitable for the agricultural professional.
Native grasses are well-suited to their region's soil. They provide both cover and food for many wildlife species. Perennial native grasses that are successful in central Georgia clay soil include big bluestem, switch grass and Eastern gama grass. Little bluestem and Indian grass are native grasses more suited to sandy soils.
Weeds, Mowing, Water & Sunshine
Heavy clay soil is just one factor to consider when selecting a type of grass. Other determining factors are preexisting weeds, the pH of the soil, how closely it will be mowed, or how hard it will be grazed and how much water and sunshine it will receive. With the variety of grasses that thrive in the clay soils of central Georgia, there is sure to be one that's perfect for any circumstance.