Desert Landscape Ideas for Backyards

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When we think of landscaping, we tend to think about lush flora and fauna, vibrantly colored flowers and evergreen trees. Sadly, the desert has quite a bad reputation in comparison to its green counterparts.

But the desert is home to unique and striking beauty of its own, which can be translated to your backyard. Here are some of our favorite desert landscaping ideas.

Desert Landscape Ideas for Backyards

Deserts contain multitudes of floral and plant species, and when combined with its regional artifacts and stones, can create an otherworldly environment.


Bet you’ve never seen that word before. Xeriscaping (pronounced: zer-ee-scay-ping) is the art of minimalist vegetation combined with the use of a pebbled foundation. This is a popular way to landscape lawns in regions that are arid.

This form of landscaping also requires very little maintenance, with a bit of weed control being more than enough. Not many people have been exposed to xeriscaping, so it will surely make your backyard stand out.



While it is fun to fill up your backyard with unique succulents and desert vegetation, building a shallow pond can add a level of other-worldliness that is very rarely seen in homes. A waterfall feature will keep the water circulating while the glass-like water reflects the sunlight stunningly.

Granted, this is one of the more expensive and time-consuming landscaping projects, but the payoff is well worth it. And, you can also decorate the beds and islands with succulents to add even more focal interest.

Desert Islands

Creating small islands in your yard that are packed with succulents, cacti, and other arid vegetation not only makes your garden more visually appealing, but it can also save a lot of space for other things.

This is not the most affordable landscaping project, but it is definitely one of the best looking. You can use rocks or bricks to create the island border, then fill the area with as many plants as you want.

Water Features

If adding a small pond or river to your backyard doesn’t interest you, you might find some satisfaction in adding one or two small eco-friendly water features. We all know that water is scarce in the desert, so these features will need to be as conservative as possible.

While it is quite tempting to add a full-sized pool to your yard — especially if you live in a dry and hot region — the water consumption and loss are simply too unsustainable. Instead, you can opt to place one or two water features, like recirculating fountains.

Desert Landscape Ideas for Backyards

Build a Fire Pit

If you’re a fan of the heat, and frequently love to barbecue, then adding a fire pit is a perfect choice. Although the days in the desert-summer are blisteringly hot, temperatures can drop close to freezing during the winter.

Fire pits are a great way to enjoy the outdoors during the twilight hours, even during those days when it feels like your skin is going to frost over.

Be sure to check out the Ideas 4 Landscaping website for thousands of ways to desert landscape your backyard.

Is Landscaping Worth It?

There is a lot to be gained from landscaping your backyard, and even the smallest changes can make a huge difference.

First, adding any of the features above can make your house feel more like a home, especially when you create them yourself. There is a certain satisfaction to be gained from transforming your backyard yourself, even if it’s just the smallest of changes.

This is known as joy value. This value is essentially the level of satisfaction and enjoyment one gets from being in a home that is visually appealing and interesting.

Then there’s the monetary value. Any improvements or renovations that you make to your home, no matter how big or small, will add to the overall value of your property. This comes in handy if you ever want to sell.

Most homeowners want their property to stand out among the others on the street, which is where landscaping comes in. Desert landscaping is one of the most effective ways to make a home unique since it’s generally quite alien to most people.

What You Want vs. What You Need

Desert landscaping is extremely rewarding. But, when living in particularly arid climates, it’s important to distinguish between what you want and what you need.

Are you hoping for recreational space, calm space for hobbies or reading, or a combination? Maybe you want a place to entertain guests while still using up the rest of the space in your backyard.

Whatever the reason for landscaping, it’s important to create a list of needs, and then roughly plan how you want everything to fit together. This will serve as a starting point for the rest of your landscaping projects.

We highly recommend visiting the Ideas 4 Landscaping site for more tips on how to go about landscaping your backyard.

Consider Your Yard

This is another step you should take before you begin landscaping your backyard, especially when doing desert landscaping. What is the path of the sun? How much wind passes through it?

If you want to create entertainment areas, you should plan them so that they are situated in areas that the wind does not blow very hard, or you could block the wind with plants and larger succulents. The sunniest spots should be the places you plant your flora.

If you want a calm and relaxing space, you should plan to have it in an area that receives enough sunlight to keep you warm in the winter, and enough shade to keep you cool for the summer. If you create a water feature, like a pond or river, you should evaluate how you will get water from one place to another.


Landscaping your yard is a huge undertaking, especially in arid desert environments. Hopefully, this guide has shed a little light on how you can go about desert landscaping your backyard. Now all you need to do is decide which options work best for your yard.


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