Trees for Desert Landscaping

Desert landscape designs often include trees because they bring scale, character and, perhaps most importantly, shade to a homeowner's yard. Having a shady area enables you to enjoy being out in the backyard even when temperatures climb above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. Protecting the house from the blazing western sun on summer afternoons can also keep the interior of your home cooler and lower your air conditioning usage. Desert landscapers emphasize low water usage trees and those that do particularly well in the difficult soil conditions found in the desert.

Texas Ebony

The Texas ebony tree grows relatively slowly and reaches heights between 15 and 30 feet, with a canopy that spreads out up to 15 feet. The foliage on the Texas ebony tree is an attractive dark green color. The arrival of spring causes yellow flowers shaped like broad spikes to appear on the branches. The tree produces unusual looking elongated seed pods that fall and create some ground litter. The branches of the tree have extremely sharp thorns. Branches must be trimmed away from pathways where people could be harmed by brushing against the thorns. The tree has dense enough foliage that it can be used as a privacy screen at the perimeter of a property. In cool times of the year, the tree only needs to be watered every few months. A generous soaking once a week in the hot months keeps the Texas ebony tree healthy.


The ironwood tree is a symbol of toughness and endurance in the desert. Some ironwood trees have lived more than 500 years. This tree is both tall and wide, reaching heights of up to 30 feet and a width of 25 feet. By trimming the lower branches, the tree's broad canopy can be ideal for shading an area of the yard. Surprisingly delicate and lovely lavender blossoms spread across the tree in springtime. Prior to that, it drops a large amount of gray-green leaves. The ironwood tree's branches are armed with sharp thorns. Care must be taken when trimming this tree and handling the branches. The hardy ironwood tree can survive drought conditions, but it can be encouraged to grow faster if it is watered twice a month during the hot June-through-September period in the desert.

Chilean Mesquite

The Chilean mesquite tree's foliage looks so lush and green that homeowners are sometimes surprised to learn this tree's water needs are quite low. It is even regarded as a xeriscape plant, one that requires light or no irrigation. At maturity, this fast-growing tree can reach a height and width of 30 feet. A location that receives full sun is fine for the Chilean mesquite tree. The tree does shed foliage, so raking or sweeping may be required if you want to keep the area around the tree looking neat. Greenish-yellow flowers dot the tree in springtime. The Chilean mesquite tree's shape is so broad and graceful looking that it makes a strong statement as a focal point in a desert yard.

Keywords: desert landscaping, desert trees, southwestern trees

About this Author

Brian Hill's first writing credit was the cover story for a national magazine. He is the author of three popular books, "The Making of a Bestseller," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital" and "Attracting Capital from Angels." Among his magazine article credits are the March 2005 and June 2008 issues of "The Writer." His interests include golf, football, movies and his two dogs.