Backyard Landscape Ideas and Desert-Style Trees

Desert-style gardens offer a surprising array of plant and other landscape choices. They also are a water-wise choice for the moisture-savvy gardener. This makes them good candidates in areas where water conservation is important. With all the choices of plants for such a garden, it can be overwhelming when trying to decide on a single landscape style. With research and a love of gardening, making a final decision does not have to be difficult.

Miniature Sedum Landscapes

Miniature landscapes are especially suited to small lots of land. They offer gardeners a chance to grow several species of plants in a small space. Arranging contrasting textures and colors adds variety to the landscape. Small buildings, animal miniatures and artfully placed trails throughout a miniature garden will make it seem realistic. Sedum hakonense "Makino," Sedum X Cremnosedum "Little Gem," Sedum hispanicum var. minus "Tiny Buttons Sedum" and Sedum rupestre "Angelina" are all small in stature and good additions to tiny scale gardens.

Mountainous Landscape

In areas where large boulders are present, use them in landscape design instead of having them removed. The crevices between rocks can be planted with shallow-rooted species that thrive under rocky conditions. Various cactus, alpines and sedums do very well in such places. Junipers can be trained in bonsai style to cling to rocks with portions of their roots landing in the soil below. When care is taken in keeping plants in scale, this application can look like a small natural mountain range.

Old West Landscape

Planting large cacti such as saguaro cactus Carnegiea gigantea or prickly pear cactus of the genus Opuntia as main focal points adds a familiar western flair to a desert garden. The use of desert-type rocks scattered around while species such as Texas sage Leucophyllum frutescens and blue bonnets Lupinus bakeri bakeri contribute much needed color to the area.

Acacia Tree Acacia Baileyana

Acacia trees like well-drained soil and full sun. Once established, they are a drought tolerant species that thrive in dry regions. The soil should be allowed to dry out between watering, as these trees do not like wet feet. This acacia is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 7 to 10.

Desert Willow Chilopsis Linearis

Though not truly a willow, this tree's willow-like appearance gives it its common name. The desert willow produces white, purple and pink blossoms from April through September. The plant can reach up to 36 feet in height. Desert willow prefers well-drained soil and does exceptionally well in low water gardens. Its blooms are showy, feeding hummingbirds, butterflies and seed-eating birds. This plant is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9.

Chaste Tree Vitex Agnus-Castus

This deciduous tree is also called the sage tree because of its gray green aromatic foliage. Its blooms attract honeybees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This plant appreciates good drainage and does well in a drier garden environment. The chaste tree is hardy in USDA zones 6 to 9.

Keywords: desert garden types, plants for desert gardens, water wise gardens

About this Author

Izzy McPhee has been a freelance writer since 1999. She writes about gardening, nature conservation, pond care, aquariums, child care, family, living on a budget and do-it-yourself projects. Her paintings have appeared in the well known gallery The Country Store Gallery in Austin, Texas. Her work can be seen on and Demand Studios.