If you happen to live in a desert environment such as the southwest part of the United States, there is a very special combination of soil, water and climate conditions that you have to contend with. A desert environment offers many unusual opportunities as well as challenges for gardeners. In this article, we will be discussing some of the top desert scape ideas for you to incorporate into your landscape.
There are often some very dramatic challenges out in the desert that you will need to contend with. The desert is very hot, dry and windy. However, if you allow yourself to be inspired by the dramatic beauty of your surroundings and avoid trying to impose non-desert plants and landscape design ideas, you can come with an impressive and beautiful desert scape to enjoy.
Learn From The Best
One effective way to learn more about desert landscape design is to learn from the best. Visit places like the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens, Denver Botanic Gardens or the Sonora Desert Museum located in Tucson, Arizona to get some suitable and creative desert scape ideas.
Plant Trees For Window Control And Shade
In low desert areas, you can plant trees like Palo Verde, African sumac, ironwood, shoestring acacia, desert willow, willow acacia, and Chilean mesquite. In high desert areas, plant trees like the honey mesquite, Arizona ash, honey locust, or incense cedar.
Use Shrubs For Foundation Plantings, Hedges or Privacy
In low desert areas, plant deer grass, cape honeysuckle, chaparral sage, or bougainvillea. In high desert areas, plant salivas, Damask rose, or Mahonia.
Integrate Seasonal Color
In low desert areas, plant desert marigold, Damianita daisy, or coastal ice plant. In high desert areas, plant cosmos, California poppies, cup flowers, or English lavender.
Incorporate Cactus For Year-Round Dramatic Effects
In low desert areas, plant the prickly pear, Agave Americana, desert spoon, or barrel cactus. Yuccas are the best option in high desert areas.
There are many different types of succulents that are available. They add incredible color and texture to a desert scape. Try hens and chicks, burro’s tails or aloe.
Plant ornamental grasses
There are many drought-tolerant ornamental grasses that are ideal for low-water gardens. Some of the best ornamental grasses to plant in a desert landscape include pampas grass, blue fescue, purple fountain grass, blue oat grass, fountain grass, and little bluestem.
Desert Scape Do’s and Don’ts:
Do choose well-adapted or native plant species that reflect the local area’s beauty and that can thrive on low amounts of water. Native plants such as mesquite, agave, and penstemon can provide regional style, while Mediterranean plants such as thyme, germander, and rosemary can thrive in the hot sun.
Do group your plants according to what their water needs. When you group your plants based on what their water needs, it makes it easy and convenient to use various irrigation zones in order to appropriately water each kind of plant.
Customize your mulch selection based on our plants. Plants that are native to the desert that have fine leaf texture will look beautiful against gravel and thrive when mulched with it. Plants that have larger leaves such as photinia, Indian hawthorn, and roses adapt better to soil containing more organic matter, so they should be mulched with shredded cypress or cedar mulch.
Plant trees in low areas of your landscape. Trees need more water in order to establish themselves compared to perennials and groundcover, so you can create low areas for them so that any excess water flows to them naturally.
Don’t landscape using all rocks. Although rocks are definitely low-maintenance, they also become very bright and hot in the sun and make your landscape unpleasant to look at or be in.
Don’t plant water-hogging plants such as purple-leaf plums, Bradford pear, ash, aspen, sycamore, cottonwood, or queen palm. These species need humidity, rich soil, and heavy irrigation to thrive and don’t do well in the Southwest desert region.
Don’t over water. Water can either be an herbicide or life-giver. With one or two years, all plants should be transitioned to an infrequent, deep water schedule. In the summer deeply water every two weeks, and during the winter once a month is usually just right for a desert scape.