Landscaping a backyard in Arizona offers homeowners and gardeners a wealth of opportunity and ideas. Because of the dry environment, a selection of native desert plants and features may blend into surrounding landscape best, but that doesn't mean a homeowner is limited to cacti and chipped rock. Desert landscaping offers a variety of features, from colorful plants and shrubs to water fountains and ponds that may attract birds and small desert animals.
Water features in a desert backyard create your own personal oasis in the midst of cactus, rock and heat. Rock-walled waterfalls, swimming pools or fountains provide interest, sound and a sense of refreshing coolness to hot, dry desert environments. Ponds or pools of standing water surrounded by desert rock like shale or sandstone offer visual depth and interest, whether they're large or small, located off the back patio or tucked into the far corner of the backyard.
Natural desert plants in Arizona offer both hardiness, low water needs and color. Native shrubs such as Agave, Creosote or Desert Broom offer low maintenance and low watering needs, even in the height of summer. The agave, or century plant, grows tightly clustered leaves in a pale green color and may grow a stalk of up to 20 feet in height. The Desert Broom grows stalks or twig-like branches up to 10 feet high and produce white flowers through Fall and Winter. Locally known as 'Tucson snow', the plant also produces seed pods that look much like the end of a broom, hence its name. The Creosote is a green, waxy-leafed shrub that grows and offers yellow blooms nearly all year round.
Walkways and Patios
Walkways and patios may utilize some of the most beautiful stone selections found in the Southwest, from reddish-brown Saltillo tiles to natural sandstone, capstone or shale sections that blend in with the local environment and yet offer striking contrast whether used for a patio, a pathway or a barbecue area in the backyard. Low on maintenance, tiles created from such materials will stand up to the harsh environment, naturally absorb water and blend into the environment, both in structure and color.
The Arizona desert can be quite dark at nighttime, so plan on some lighting ideas to make backyard entertaining more comfortable, safe and fun. Strings of lights may be wrapped around posts or in and around trees to bring your backyard alive at night. Torch lighting ideas also offer striking and strategically placed pockets of light, as can small bowl-shaped stones that may be filled with firewood, pellets or charcoal for a more native look. In-ground path or walkway lighting also offers safety and a striking light pattern to enhance any Arizona backyard. Visit your local hardware or home supply store for lighting ideas that will fit your decor and your needs.