As you drive through many of the neighborhoods in the Valley of the Sun, you often find yard after yard filled with lush green grass, making it difficult to believe you are actually in the desert. But during your travels, you may have discovered there are still quite a few houses that offer a desert landscape that is native to our state. Colorful, unique, and most importantly, using very little water for upkeep, desert landscaping is making a return in popularity and can even be found in the backyards of some of your more environmentally conscious neighbors. If you have been considering going back to our state’s roots in your own backyard, these ideas for desert landscaping will ensure that your oasis will be envied by all who visit!
The Bare Bones
The best way to start any landscaping project is from the ground up, and although you may not have much in your backyard at the moment, it will not be a detriment to your plans. As a matter of fact, it may even help as you can get a clearer picture of what needs to be done and what exactly is missing from your yard. Now that you are working with the bare bones, and before you start planting, start planning where your hardscape pieces should go. Not quite clear on what hardscape means? Basically, hardscape consists of gravel paths, stone walls, and other concrete structures designed to take your yard from woeful to wonderful!
Yes, a desert landscape can offer water features, including a pool, but if you are trying to conserve our most precious resource, skipping a pool is wise. There are other options, however, that can add to the beauty and tranquility of your backyard oasis, including fountains that recirculate water and add a nice sound to the space. If you still want a pool or hot tub, we aren’t going to judge, we just suggest that you start your landscape with the pool and wait until it’s finished to start the rest of the desert process.
Adding Interest to Your Desert Landscaping
Most Arizona yards are quite small, but there is usually still enough room for a gazebo in the larger ones or a garden bench tucked away in the center of a field of wildflowers in the smaller ones. If you have the space, a pergola offers great shelter from the sun in the heat of the summer. Tuck away a small television under the eaves, add a patio table and chairs, and maybe place a small refrigerator in the corner. The options are endless when it comes to creating a desert landscape that is lush, charming, and offers refuge from the sun! If your yard is smaller, it doesn’t mean you can’t have something spectacular for a focal point; it just means you need to work on a smaller scale. Lay down some stamped concrete, leading to a park bench located in front of a raised planter filled with your favorite desert plants; small changes can be inexpensive and add a huge impact to your desert yard.
Time for Some Color
Once the hardscape details have been decided, the water features have been completed, and the structures have been placed, it is finally time to start considering your softscape materials—in other words, the plants. Desert landscaping does not have to mean prickly cactus and beige plants; it can encompass an entire world of color and still remain water saving. Pick a bright gold desert marigold to add cheer to planters on the porch, add the elegance of a red bird of paradise to the bed in front of the house, and for a change, the crisp white of a desert lily can add contrast to your sea of color! The beautiful purple of the Ruellia looks rich against the dark green leaves and can be planted in pots or left to grow wild in a raised bed at the back of your yard. If you want more than the typical expanse of landscape gravel in your yard, there are all kinds of ground cover plants that will give your yard the lushness you desire!
Room for Trees?
Did you know that a tree planted near the house can save you up to 25% on your summer electric bills? And although most desert trees seem to be spindly and not offer much in the way of shade, the Tipuana Tipu, native to South America, DOES offer shade while thriving in the desert heat! They also burst forth with bright yellow flowers in the spring, creating a cheerful and colorful picture against the expanse of your stucco home! Citrus trees, particularly lemon, orange, and grapefruit, also thrive in our climate and provide a plentiful selection of juicy and delicious fruits during their season.
The Little Stuff
A brightly colored chair, a painted pot, even an umbrella placed at a jaunty angle over the edge of the pool can add warmth and style to your desert backyard, and they don’t cost much to add. Give us a call today and let’s work together on creating a yard that you will love coming home to every day!