75+ Desert Landscaping Ideas (for Front & Backyard)


desert landscaping ideas

Landscaping is a term that is famous for inspiring images of fresh green lawns, complete with pretty manicured trees and a flowerbed. In most parts of the country, that image is very true-to-life. However, not all parts of the country are going to have those lush temperate zones that most yards are known for having. Truth be told, a decent part of America lives in the desert.

If you are one of the many people who call a state like Arizona or Nevada home, then chances are you’re faced with a unique issue. You probably are wondering what you can do to landscape a plot of desert land. We got you covered.

Things To Consider When Landscaping Desert Land

Desert land is not like most other parts of the United States. It’s a very delicate ecosystem! Depending on where you live, you might have mandates from both your HOA and your local government regarding what is and isn’t allowed as far as landscaping. When planning out your landscape, make sure to go over the following things:

  • Local HOA Guidelines. If they say no to lawns, they mean it. Don’t try it.
  • Environmental Regulations. Many towns have specific guidelines about the kind of plants you’re allowed to have. Keep an eye on these if you want to work with a desert landscape.
  • Personal Taste. Different landscapes can have stark changes on how your home looks and feels.

75 Desert Landscaping Ideas

Now that we’ve discussed the most important parts of a desert landscape planning start, let’s take a look at some of the pretty pictures that inspired us.

1. A Standard Lawn

lawn landscape

A nice lawn landscape is still doable in a desert, though it may be a pricier option than many would care to deal with.

2. Trees And Cacti

This house, on the other hand, focused on cacti, trees, and light-colored sand to create a lush yet desert-y home exterior.

3. Minimalist + Palm

minimalist desert landscape

You don’t always need a lot of “stuff” to make a desert landscape look cool. Here, a sand-filled rock garden shows off a trio of palm trees and some minor bushes nearby.

4. So Pretty

Adding lots of desert-friendly shrubs with a couple of shade-providing trees helped turn this desert home exterior’s into a Shangri-La.

5. Zen Love

zen desert garden

Meanwhile, this garden landscaper created a zen rock garden-style landscape using cacti and gravel, dotted with the right paving.

6. La La Lavender

This garden owner added succulents, a rock garden, and some herbs that work well in the desert heat to create a more lush (and functional) garden.

7. Blue Light Special

desert landscaping

Keeping the colors of your succulents coordinated can add dimension to your home. This designer made sure to use lots of blue-green picks to add some color.

8. Potted Paradise

desert landscaping elegant

Heavy emphasis on potted plants made this home’s exterior look extra rustic, especially when it was paired with brick and terra cotta shades.

9. Fescue Me!

fescue landscaping

Elijah blue fescue is a great way to get that grey-blue tone in desert grass. This popular grass adds a unique touch to any landscape, especially when paired with succulents.

10. Pop Of Color

red desert landscaping

Not all cacti are green. Some of the more impressive ones are red, and the owner here used red and green to create a stark contrast between typical green plants.

11. Matching Rocks To Roof

desert garden

You can also add a more coordinated vibe to your rock gravel landscape by matching the gravel color to the roof of your home. (This look is popular in Nevada.)

12. Large N’ In Charge

large succulents

Not all succulents are the small things you find in petite planters indoors. This homeowner created a wildly unique landscape by focusing in on above-average-sized succulents.

13. Spaced Out

spacing desert landscape

This landscaper created a unique look by layering rectangular tiles for a path, and making a point to space out their cacti evenly.

14. Fire N’ Ice

desert landscaping

Red cacti and succulents are cool already, but have you seen what a gorgeous contrast they make when paired with blue plants like fescue grass?

15. Underneath A Tree

Adding a bunch of succulents underneath a tree made this landscape look elegant without having too much effort involved.

16. Keep It Simple

This gorgeous home stuck to the basics—a lawn and minimal plant life as a way to focus on the house’s architecture.

17. Pots In Pots

potted landscaping

Sometimes, adding a cool way to display plants (like this series of pots within a larger pot) is all you really need to do to make your home’s exterior look cool.

18. Mellow Yellow

yellow

Yellow flowers, when combined with succulents, can provide a burst of color that will make your home the most enviable on the block.

19. Poured Concrete

Tired of seeing all the stone paths that people are using in your neighborhood? This gorgeous landscape involved a protective wall and poured concrete for a unique twist.

20. Faux Walls

faux wall

This adobe wall helped create the perfect backdrop for some seriously bright flowers. It’s a very rustic, Spanish look that’s bound to turn heads.

21. Succulent Fountain

Water might be scarce in the desert, but this succulent fountain doesn’t need too much of it to add a splash of style to your home!

22. Faux Grass

faux grass

Can’t do a legit lawn in your neighborhood? Astroturf is a thing, and it’s possible to install it with great results. You never have to water it and it looks so chic!

23. Accessorize!

desert accessory

A gorgeous accessory to your desert garden can always add a cool touch of style. This little red wagon wheel is so cute!

24. It’s Lit!

lit cactus

These two metal cacti hold a remarkable secret: they’re actually lamps that offer you a way to add mood lighting to your landscape!

25. Decked Out

garden landscaping

A weathered wood deck surrounded by light-colored sand and succulents transformed these petite houses into a rustic Western “beach house” getaway.

26. Black And White

black and white landscaping

Black pots on a white background created an amazing contrast that made this home’s exterior look oh, so effortlessly cool.

27. Statement Walls

walls

Not sure what to do about a garden that just feels too empty? Add a neat statement wall for serious style and privacy.

28. Contrasting Gravel

The bright blue gravel around the agave and the gorgeous sandy color of the main gravel made this house’s desert scene pop!

29. Play Up The Dry

The light cream colors of the plant life at this home helped play up the arid ambiance of the desert in the most gorgeous of ways.

30. Palms N’ Dirt

gardening ideas

You don’t need gravel to make a desert landscape look “with it.” This homeowner focused on getting massive palm trees to create a major focal point on their (not) lawn.

31. Creature Comforts

garden ideas desert

The cool thing about desert landscapes is that they tend to be comfortable year-round, which is why this homeowner added a bunch of cozy chairs and tables to their landscape.

32. Simply Sand

Love sand? You can create a minimalist look with the right gravel and pavement. Better still, you’ll never have to worry about upkeep.

33. Spicy Peppers

landscaping idea

Want to enhance your kitchen and also make your home look better? This homeowner did it by drying hot peppers outside of their home, turning them into a decorative statement and a way to get more out of the dry weather.

34. A Fountain Of Ideas

landscaping ideas

It’s amazing what a little water can do to a desert landscape, isn’t it?

35. A Statuesque Lookdesert statue

Artemis would be proud of this gorgeous setup. The statue among the desert brush adds a unique spin on regular home design.

36.Fill In The Gaps

landscaping ideas

Succulent fountain? Check. Luxury stones? Check. Lush green grass to fill in the gaps? Awesome and check!

37. Patio Bliss

landscape

The patio is a major part of many desert homes. This homeowner added a lot of lush greenery and terra cotta to jazz up the area.

38. Fireplace Outside

landscaping

A tabletop fireplace is one of the more unusual ways to add some warmth to your desert garden. Of course, the red motifs here help a bunch too.

39. Saguaro Swag

saguaro

Saguaro cacti are some of the tallest cacti in the world, and that striking height is what makes them an impressive item to have in front of your home. That’s serious saguaro swag.

40. The Infinity Pool

This *is* a desert backyard, but you’d never guess it if it weren’t for the ample cacti around this infinity pool. How elegant!

41.Big Cactus Energy

landscaping a desert

Rather than go with more traditional bushes or palm trees, this landscaper was able to get a similar vibe by getting extremely large terra cotta pots with “bushy” cacti to add that accent.

42.Tunisian Turned Up

desert landscaping

This wasn’t a home that is located in America; it’s the Tunisian desert. To add their flair, the owners of this house added pottery and a singularly large palm tree.

43. A Sage Idea

This desert home featured a lot of tall grass and ornamental lighting to create a “farm fresh” look without actually having the farmland.

44. The Rock Fountain

rock fountain

This is a cool concept as far as landscaping goes. If you can’t afford (or are not allowed to install) a water fountain, a rock “fountain” can add similar glam.

45. The Quasi Rock Garden

gorgeous desert

This layout is primarily a cactus garden, but it’s also a rock garden. The nice “zen” arrangement of the rocks helps bring out the Southwestern appeal.

46. Zen Bench

Get peaceful with your desert landscape by creating a zen vibe. A bench or table similar to this one can help.

47. Steel It

This isn’t a real cactus, it’s a cool cactus sculpture that helped bring out the industrial look of a desert garden out West.

47. A Green Wall

No, really, it’s actually green.

48. A Statement Dining Set

dining landscape

The bold reds and oranges of this dining set helps make the patio garden look oh, so cute.

49. Firepit

The burning firepit and the gorgeous water fountain make this desert landscape ooze luxury.

50. Rock Garden Love

Rock gardens are practically made for deserts; they don’t need water but they make a statement.

51. Zen It

Zen rock gardens are classic, and they work with the arid and dry temperatures found in deserts.

52.Hang It  Up

Hanging baskets are a great addition to any desert garden, even if it’s not large.

53. Sculpted Trees

Tree sculptures aren’t just for lush temperate neighborhoods, you know!

54. Stepping Stones

desert landscaping

This design is just too darn sleek!

55. Fire Glass

desert landscaping

Brightly colored fire glass turned this desert landscape into something entirely new.

56. And Sand And Sand…

There is nothing wrong with embracing the sand in the desert.

57. Succulent Energy

Succulents are in, big time. This garden is proof that you can build vertically and horizontally too.

58. Fire Border

landscaping ideas

The orange glow of these plants bring a deserty glow to the path along this garden.

59. (Not) A Birdbath

unique desert landscaping ideas

If you have a birdbath that never quite seems to stay full, then you need to make sure that you fill it up tastefully…with a succulent garden.

60. Patio Perfect

This is so pretty, we don’t even know where to begin.

61. A River Of Rocks

landscaping idea

The bright blue rocks make this yard seem like it has a river made of stone.

62. Purple + Adobe

desert landscaping

Pink and purple and green made this adobe house’s front a visually stunning masterpiece, don’t you think?

63. Twin Vases

desert landscape

Twin vases make a perfect way to line a path or make your home’s doorway look a little more regal.

64. Zen Garden Revamp

Zen gardens are basically *made* for deserts. Go ahead and lose yourself in the zen of raking.

65. Cacti Crazy

Going heavy-handed with the caci is always a good look in the middle of the desert. Besides, local wildlife loves it.

66. Agave Trough

This gardener used two fallen trees to create a trough for agave plants.

67. Spiky Balls

This indoor botanical garden shows the benefit of adding a bunch of the same type of “cushion” cacti to an area.

68. Ball Fountains

Ooh, this is a subtle take on the fountain look. The balls match the material on the ground, too.

69. Warm Lighting

The warm glow of the lights make it easy to feel like this home is welcoming and well-maintained.

70. Add Artwork

An outside artwork piece hanging on a wall can help add a splash of style.

71. Spiky Plants

Adding extra spiky, bushy plants can help mimic the look of palm trees.

72. Potted Trees

Potted palm trees are “Cali” in the best possible way.

73. All Arranged

This plant arrangement starts small, but gets taller and brighter closer to the center.

74. The Patio Place

Sometimes, the best way to add landscaping is to make it a backdrop behind patio works.

75. Concrete Fireplace

Of course, adding a centerpiece like this will always work well to your advantage. After all, everyone loves a fireplace.

Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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