Think western gardens and you may think of the cactus rose garden in the classic movie, "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance." The themes of a western garden can be incorporated in nearly every location, whether you live in sunny California, the dry Arizona desert or in the Midwest.
If the winters are mild, create a cactus rose garden for yourself in your yard. Many cacti bloom in the spring, including prickly pear, hedgehog and cholla. Even the stately saguaro cactus wears a crown of white flowers. Cacti will live through moderately low temperatures and a frost or two. They will not live through day after day of subfreezing weather. That doesn't mean you can't plant a cactus rose garden. It does mean your cactus garden will be planted in a container that's moved inside to a sunny window in the winter.
There are two fences that say "western." One is the split-rail fence. The other is barbed wire. Barbed wire fencing is too dangerous to be used in home landscaping. Split rail, on the other hand, is attractive, easy to assemble and moderately priced. Place the split-rail fencing at a 90-degree angle to each other. Plant tall flowers in the back and shorter flowers in the front.
Use the split rail fence as a support for climbing roses. Train them by tying the long canes to the railing. Instead of growing up, the canes will grow horizontally and bloom along their length.
Corral a wildflower garden in one corner of your yard with the split rail fencing. The flowers will grow through, under and over the railing.
Nothing says western like a wagon, whether a prairie schooner, chuck or a wooden wagon made for hauling. Reproductions are available in garden stores and range in size from miniatures, big enough for only a plant or two, to life size. While you could plant directly in the wagon by filling it with soil, the wood will rot from the moisture. Instead, line the wagon with plastic to protect it and then fill with containers of flowers.
Choose flowering spring bulbs, geraniums, zinnias for summer and switch out to chrysanthemums for fall.
If you don't have room for an entire wagon, use a wagon wheel as an accent in a flower bed.
Changing a watering trough into a water feature doesn't take much time or effort. Seal the inside and waterproof the trough. Buy a kit that contains a pump and use it to pump water from the trough up to a tilted bucket that spills the water back into the trough. Surround with lantana, ornamental grasses and bougainvillea.