Desert Landscaping: Designing your Yard

Landscaping may seem overwhelming when you look at a flat, barren piece of land and wonder how you are going to design a yard that takes into account the basics of our Las Vegas Valley desert climate. But if you break it down into steps it can be a manageable process that doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take months of work. In fact, you can tailor the design to your budget, tastes and climate concerns, like water efficiency, so that you get the most for your money and effort.

Designing your Yard in 6 Easy Steps

1. Decide what is important to you for your yard. Make a wish list, but keep in mind how much you want to spend and plant life that is suitable to a desert climate.

Some things you can consider are:

  • Do I want an area to relax and have coffee in the morning while reading the paper?
  • Do I want a play area for the kids or the grandkids when they come to visit?
  • Do I want to be able to entertain in my yard?
  • How much shade do I want?
  • Do I want a vegetable and herb garden?

2. Get ideas by walking or biking through the neighborhood. Bring your smartphone if you have one and take pictures so you can have them when you go to the nursery or home improvement store. Magazine and online sites like Pinterest are also great places to find DIY ideas.

3. Make a drawing. First measure your lot, then draw a diagram that includes the house and any existing features like a walkway, pool or patio. You can use grid paper to make the drawing to scale or use an enlargement of the plot plan provided by your builder. You may want to enlarge the diagram so you have room to make drawings and notes. It’s a good idea to make several copies to use during various stages of the design process and update it as you go.

4. Choose desert climate turf and plants that thrive in our drought-like conditions. For a database of drought tolerant, native plants go here. Deciduous, low water-use trees can provide summer shade and low water-use plants add texture, seasonal color, and aesthetic quality to your landscape. Desert wildflowers can provide extra color and visual variety during certain times of the year.

5. Add materials to add texture, functionality and diversity to your desert landscaping. You may want to integrate hardscape or structures into your landscape plan.

Swimming Pool Landscaping

Some good ones to consider are:

  • patios
  • walkways
  • boulders
  • a barbecue or fire pit
  • built-in planters and seating areas
  • a swimming pool, spa or fountain
  • walls or fences to separate or screen an area
  • trellises that support vines and soften the look of fences and exterior walls
  • sculptures
  • bird feeders
  • Garden artwork
  • Paint and fabric

6. Design the Irrigation system. Now that you have the layout complete, you can incorporate the irrigation system. If you don’t know much about irrigation then research and learn all you can first or seek professional help for this step. Making mistakes with the irrigation can be costly in both money and time when you are forced to rip it out and redo it. If you are going to attempt to design and install a system yourself check the publication dates for the most current information because there have been many advances in irrigation technology in recent years.

In our area turf is usually watered by a sprinkler system whereas decorative plants, such as trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers, are usually watered with a drip irrigation system. If watering times are scheduled correctly and you maintain your drip system properly, this type of irrigation system can reduce evaporation and runoff, reduce weed growth and promote plant health by providing water to each plant’s root zone, where it’s needed most, without wetting leaves and soaking areas that don’t need to be watered.

Now that you have your yard designed, the landscaping professionals at Cacti Landscapes are here to help you with installation and maintenance of your dream yard. Experts in design, installation and upkeep of landscaping tailored to the demanding conditions in the desert Southwest, the friendly professionals at Cacti Landscapes can guide you through the entire process from design to completion; taking into account your wishes and helping you fulfill them in a way that minimizes water usage and maintenance and maximizes your enjoyment of your yard for years to come.