As beautifully lush as a yard covered in green grass and beds of flowers can be, we do live in the desert, and this type of yard could be considered an irresponsible waste of our most precious resource. We all love the look of a home set in a verdant landscape, and we at New Image Landscape and Pools are here to tell you that you can have that look recreated with desert plants that require very little water to maintain! Choosing ground cover that flowers and beautiful bushes in a variety of colors can give your yard a breathtaking appearance that rivals the landscapes of our eastern roots. This guide to low-water plants will make it easy to create a desert oasis!
A Desert Yard a Blank Slate
Most desert landscapes feature a rocky expanse of ground dotted with a cactus or two and possibly a spindly mesquite tree that offers no shade. If we have just described your yard, never fear—look at it as a blank slate you can build upon! Ground cover is the easiest way to soften the harshness of the rocks, and there are a large number of flowering ground cover plants that require very little water to survive. Choose a Rocky Point ice plant whose dark green stems are thick and beautiful. Offering blooms in the summer in shades of yellow and red, the ice plant does best in full sun and high heat but can survive in temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. (Covering on the coldest days of winter is recommended.) The colorful blooms of verbena is another popular desert ground covering with blooms that come in a variety of colors, including purple, pink, and white. Another popular flowering ground cover in the desert is the beautiful lantana. The blooms on this fast-growing plant come in a huge selection of colors, with the most striking being a dark orange surrounded by gold; this one promises to be the center of attraction in your garden!
A yard that demands interest needs a variety of plantings in all sizes, and now that we have the lower spreading plants figured out, you’ll want to bring the eye up a few feet by planting some bushes. Lining a driveway with red yucca or Mexican bird of paradise is often a popular choice, but one of the most common appearing bushes found in desert landscaping is the sage plant. Offering leaves of silvery gray and growing up to almost five feet in height, the purple or yellow blooms are a delicious delight to bees, and if you can save the bees while saving water, that makes you a hero in our books! These bushes are not completely maintenance free, however, as they do need some tending to avoid becoming unruly and out of control. Many people love to shape them, giving them the appearance of an English hedge, but of course, that depends on your taste.
A Little Bit of Whimsy
So far, all the plants and bushes we have discussed are perennials; you plant them once, and they are there forever. But if you have ever driven by a neighbor’s yard in the spring and found it awash in a sea of colorful blooms, you may be interested in some desert wildflowers! Planted in early spring or late winter, they require very little upkeep, and if you toss a handful of different seeds into the soil, once spring hits, it will be a surprise as to what pops up where—which is the point of wildflowers, don’t you think? Wildflowers come in a range of colors that include red, yellow, orange, and purple, and many will be self-seeding, meaning they may reappear in the next year. The California poppy is easily one of our favorite wildflowers, only needing spring or winter rains to appear and thrive. Their cheerful blooms add a happy glow to any yard in which they are planted, and although they are known to have pain-reducing properties, you won’t have to worry about falling asleep in the garden as poor Dorothy and friends suffered through in a much-loved movie!
What About Trees?
We mentioned the mesquite tree earlier, and although they are not good shade trees, they do require little water and add interest, but they aren’t the only desert trees available. Palm trees and palo verdes can often be found in Southwest yards, as can the gorgeous ironwood tree. This tree is only found in the Sonoran Desert and can grow up to 45 feet tall, providing a twisted beauty to any yard it graces. Its blooms during the early months of summer, offering up beautiful purple, pink, and white flowers that wither away to become silvery gray leaves; the ironwood is basically never without leaves.
This is Just the Beginning!
The options for creating a lush landscape that is both colorful and drought tolerant are endless. Give us a call today and let’s work on bringing your yard to its full potential!