High desert gardens have to accommodate some of the harshest growing conditions in the world. High desert plants have to adapt to daytime temperatures well over 100 degrees and night chills that can drop below freezing. Water is scarce, so high desert landscaping has to be done with awareness of the region's ecological needs.
Even with the most careful high desert landscaping, a desert garden can look barren without the bright blooms of more temperate climes. Decorate and enhance your garden with birds and butterflies. There are many native plants that attract flying friends, including the hummingbird bush. Milkweed draws butterflies and the hedgehog cactus attracts songbirds, butterflies and hummingbirds.
Living in the high desert, fire can be a fierce and even deadly enemy. If your home is in an area vulnerable to seasonal flare-ups, consider surrounding your house with fire-retardant plants as part of your desert landscaping. Many traditional high desert garden mainstays such as black sage, desert agave and purple nightshade will not significantly contribute to a fire, allowing blazes to burn out before they reach your home.
The dry hot days of the desert can be quite pleasant, provided you have some shade. Blur the line between indoor and outdoor high desert landscaping with covered pavilions and galleries. Create outdoor rooms and walkways out of adobe tiles or cast earth for a natural, high desert look. Add furniture, shade-loving plants, statues and even paintings to create the perfect desert day room.