Temperature, water and altitude influence an Arizona homeowner’s backyard landscape design and plant selection. The Sunset map for Arizona shows four unique growing regions in the state, each with well-adapted plants for landscaping your backyard. Many Arizona homeowners choose not to try to grow turf grass in their landscapes, but rather to take advantage of containers, colorful rocks and stone paths threaded through plants to create unity and visual interest in their backyard landscapes.
The desert is hard on plants and people. The best desert landscape ideas begin with the use of native plants. Decorative cacti such as compass barrel and prickly pear are adapted to the desert and require little water or extreme soil preparation measures. They are visually interesting placed individually or in groupings. Ornamental grasses soften the look of your backyard Arizona landscape. Sideoats and Blue Grama or Muhley are good, low-profile grass choices that work especially well when used with interesting rocks in your landscape. Trees are the tallest features in an Arizona backyard landscape. Integrate members of the Acacia family such as blackbrush, sweet, or willow into the landscape. Surround the trees with colored rocks and stone paths or desert flowers to draw the eye to this feature.
Xeriscaping your Arizona backyard landscaping means not only selecting plants that require little or no supplemental water, it also involves amending the soil with organic matter to help retain moisture, adding colorful mulches around plants, and practicing water-wise irrigation using buried soaker hoses or drip systems. Landscaping design that includes xeriscaping practices makes use of colorful paths among the plants and artfully placed rocks. The High Country Xeriscape Council of Arizona provides an excellent list of broadleaf trees, conifers, grasses, perennials, shade plants, and shrubs that are appropriate for a xeriscaped backyard landscape.
Good plant containers for your backyard landscape may include colorful, decorative pots that complement the style of your house or ones that reflect the Arizona’s Native American culture, Spanish influence or western heritage. Objects that had a previous purpose such as buckets, a child’s wagon, barrels, or old water tanks make interesting landscape containers. You can place plants into the containers in your backyard landscaping or tip them over with plants appearing to spill from their openings. Although you need to select plants that are adapted to your area of Arizona, using containers gives more control over the soil and the water consumption and therefore more flexibility in selecting plants. Use containers and several types of plants grouped together to form a visually cohesive area. Planted containers are attractive around water features such as a pool or spa.