16 Desert Landscaping Ideas - Backyard Boss
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16 Desert Landscaping Ideas

The desert is a magical place filled with powerful sunshine, dry heat, and stunning landscapes. Surprisingly, there’s a plethora of diverse plants and animals that have adapted to live in these extreme climates.

The good thing is that there are many plants to choose from when growing a garden in the desert. Whether you prefer flowering Bougainvillea or majestic giant cacti such as the Mexican Fence Post Cactus (Pachycereus marginatus) there’s something for everyone. When it comes to planning your yard in the desert there is no shortage of unique and beautiful landscaping options. However, a desert backyard might not be the ideal place to try and grow a perfect green lawn.

Although you may not have the dramatic leafy green lawn, deserts are a great place to explore color, texture, and scale when creating an outdoor space. Keep reading for 16 desert landscaping ideas to spruce up your hot and dry yard!

1. Muted tones

At first, the desert might not seem to offer a lot of color options, but when you really pay attention there is a lot to see. Cacti and succulents come in an abundance of beautiful pastels ranging from pink and purple to blue, green, and yellow. Match these subtle shades for a stunning effect, especially during a sunrise or sunset.

2. Containers

Planting in containers is a great way to add height and personality to your space. You can choose pots of any size, shape, and color that you want to express yourself with! Using containers also means you are not limited by the conditions of the soil in your yard.

3. Drought tolerant plants

It may seem obvious but choosing plants that are well adapted to the desert is a great way to ensure your yard looks great, even when it’s hot and dry. Drought-tolerant plants will be easy to care for and still look great when they don’t get a lot of water.

4. Pops of color

Brighten up the naturally neutral tones of the desert with some stunning pops of color. Choose native desert flowers that add an explosion of color when they bloom, like poppies or desert lupine.

5. Dry stream bed

A great way to add texture and excitement to your desert landscaping is a water feature – without the water! A dry creek bed complete with beautiful rounded stones and sandy washes is a simple way to replicate the natural beauty of the wild desert in your yard.

6. Dramatic succulents

Succulents are diverse groups of plants that all do well in hot dry conditions. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes to add flare to your landscape. Giant agaves are a great plant to bring a dramatic flare.

7. Colorful stone

At first glance, the desert might seem to blend together as a see of monotonous sand, but upon closer inspection, it is revealed that color abounds in the details. Deserts are natural hosts to stones in a variety of colors including reds, purples, blues, and greens. Incorporate these stones into your landscape to add color that is subtle but stunning.

8. Artificial grass

Maybe all you want is that perfect green lawn but growing real grass in hot dry climates is time-consuming and can waste a lot of water. Artificial grass is an excellent solution. It always looks perfect, requires no maintenance, and gives you that perfect lawn you desire.

9. Perfect patterns

A desert yard is a great canvas for exploring patterns. Flat, open spaces like those in the desert are perfect for letting the creative juices flow. You can also design a walkway or art piece using stone, sand, plants, and more. Use desert textures to your advantage and create a unique yard feature!

10. Climbing plants

Add some height to your desert garden with climbing plants. Adding a pergola or trellis that plants can climb will add a new dimension to your landscape. Bougainvillea is a climbing desert favorite.

11. Layers

When choosing plants and features for a desert landscaping project, it is especially important to think about layers. You want to have a variety of heights of plants and features that will add more texture to the sometimes barren landscape.

12. Pretty paths

Creating pathways is a great way to break up your space and add a little whimsy. You can use sand or stone for a natural look, or try bricks or paving stones for a more industrial feel. Plant around the edges of the path and enjoy your daily stroll through your gorgeous desert landscape.

13. Colossal Cacti

Cacti are the star of the desert. These plants are perfectly adapted to the arid conditions of the desert landscape and will thrive in your hot, dry yard. There are many cactus varieties that grow to be very large and can serve as an excellent focal point in your yard. Try Saguaro, Mexican Fence Post Cactus, or Barrel Cactus for a grand and stunning plant feature.

14. Fire pit focus

Even though we often think of deserts as hot, temperatures can drop considerably at night. A firepit is a great way to take the edge of the cool nights while also making your yard look great.

15. Palm perfection

If you’re looking to add some trees to your desert landscaping, palms are a perfect choice. These dramatic trees do well in arid regions and will add height and shade to your yard.

16. Embrace the land

One of the easiest ways to create a stunning desert landscape is to go with what already exists. Take note of the features your yard already has, such as stones, washes and varying elevations. Work around and enhance these natural desert features to embrace the natural beauty of the area.

Get The Most Out Of Your Landscape!

Desert landscaping provides opportunities to add color and creativity to your yard. At first, the options may seem limited, but once you start to explore there are endless choices. You can add specially adapted plants and colorful natural features with flowers or pots. Finding and embracing the beauty in the natural desert landscape will help you create your own unique and beautiful desert yard filled with texture, color, and scale.
If you used any of these methods listed above, let us know how it worked out for you in the comments!