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Desert Landscaping Ideas & Tips to Transform Your Home

Want to transform your corner of the desert into a private oasis? Find the inspiration you need to create your own desert escape.

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Photo: Mike Small Photography. From: Pascale Land Design.

Celebrate Desert Beauty

A beautiful landscape brings the desert to life with plantings that boast low maintenance and low water use. For a classic desert vibe, count on cacti and succulents, plants with thick leaves that store water — like the blue-toned agave just behind the rock. Large stones and gravel mulch suit an arid scene, adding their own kaleidoscope of hues: brown, pink, blue and buff. Desert sunsets are magical, with brilliant blue skies fading to pink and orange. The light at day’s end bathes the desert with a golden glow that brings the landscape to life.

see our succulents grow guide

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Photo: Mike Small Photography. From: Pascale Land Design.

Group Plants by Thirst

Desert landscaping doesn’t mean dull. By mixing plants with diverse forms, colors and heights, it’s easy to create an eye-pleasing scene packed with visual variety. The walkway to this home showcases an important rule of landscape design: Group plants with similar water needs. In a desert landscape, prioritize water conservation by choosing plants such as cacti and succulents. A raised planting bed boosts plant height to enhance vertical interest.

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Photo: Margie Grace. From: Margie Grace.

Incorporate Containers

Include container gardens in your desert landscape design to add height and inject color. Pots are also a great solution when desert soil is impossible for planting (too chalky, too salty, too stony, etc.). Choose glazed ceramic pots over unglazed terra-cotta for two reasons. First, glazed pots come in a great array of colors. Second, glazed containers retain water better than unglazed ones, which allow moisture to evaporate through pot sides.

make a cactus container garden

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Photo: Holly Lepere. From: Kiesel Design.

Light a Fire

Evenings in the desert can bring cool air, and a blazing fire is just right for chasing the chill. Whether you go for a simple fire ring, a cozy chiminea for warming a patio or a formal brick fire pit kitted out for cooking, you’ll find that a fiery element creates a natural gathering spot. The flames also help light up the night and allow you to enjoy your desert landscape in every season.

our favorite fire pits under $350

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