Desert Backyard Design Ideas

Desert Backyard Design Ideas

CC Sunscreen Home Improvement

If you love the striking beauty of the desert Southwest as much as we do, you’ve probably considered ways in which you can bring the aesthetics of the desert landscape to your own home. Designing with the desert in mind takes advantage of a rich diversity of dryland plants that save on water bills while summoning the richness of our local ecology.


Landscaping with the desert’s limited water resources in mind is known as xeriscaping, using plants that, once established, require minimal outside water resources. Xeriscaping is an attractive and dynamic approach to designing landscaping. From drought-tolerant fruiting trees and shrubs, to desert natives and adapted evergreens, Xeriscaping takes advantage of a whole spectrum of plants evolved for minimal rainfall. 

Native Plants

Another important movement in desert landscaping is focusing on native plants. Landscaping with native plants often has a great degree of overlap with xeriscaping, but is more dictated by species of flora that are indigenous to the area. Native plant landscaping helps mitigate and limit problems like invasive plants, by helping the desert plants of the region survive and thrive. While xeriscaping may incorporate plants from many different drylands and deserts, native plant landscaping strives to be part of the surrounding ecology.

Gravel and Rocks

Instead of thinking about wood chips and other organic mulches, or planting a grass lawn, when it comes time to landscape your desert backyard, consider working with gravel and rocks. Rock formations and gravel are well suited to helping both hold water for plants and cooling the temperature of the ground, supporting plant growth. Rocks and gravel can be used to create attractive, compelling landscaping and reduce your water consumption. Plants in the desert naturally grow in and around rock piles and boulders which both shade them from extreme sun and help hold the water they need. Landscaping gravel can help you create modern and attractive outdoor areas in your yard.

Cactus and Succulents

Cactus and succulents are known for their unusual appearance and dramatic colors. They also can help you create landscaping that is a breeze to maintain, requiring very little in the way of water and maintenance. The desert is blessed with copious cactus and succulent nurseries that can help you create drylands gardens that burst with character. 

Of course, many cacti and succulents have a “don’t touch me” feature such as the sharp spikes of agave or the thorns of a saguaro. When using these plants in a landscape, make sure there are clear pathways around them. Limiting them to raised beds or terraces can help reduce painful encounters with these fantastic plants.

Container Gardening

For those who crave homegrown vegetables and fruits, incorporating a container garden into your backyard landscape helps you control the amount of water and light your garden gets while accommodating plants that may otherwise struggle in the desert. Moveable containers of vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons can be moved out of the intensity of the sun when the summer heats up and can often produce year-round in Arizona’s mild winters. 

Water Harvesting

You may be surprised to hear that attractive landscaping can go hand in hand with integrated water harvesting. Using ancient adaptations of berms and swales, zones can be created in a desert backyard that captures and holds moisture long after rainfall has passed. Low-lying areas of the backyard can be transformed into a desert rain garden in a matter of a day. Deeply mulched and planted with species that can handle both drought and intense storms, rain gardens display the desert’s beauty while capturing its most precious resource.

Water harvesting in a landscape can also be done with buried water chambers and capturing rainfall off of roofs. Integrated water harvesting in a landscape can create lush and vibrant oases in your backyard that support landscaping that couldn’t otherwise be sustained without irrigation.

CC Sunscreens

Truly no backyard is complete without you in it. If you want a beautiful desert backyard that you can enjoy all year round, make sure patio shades from CC Sunscreens are part of your plan. CC Sunscreens create shade and comfort with attractive custom designs for any space. Want to see what we can do for your backyard? Give us a call today!