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Smith: Create a beautiful backyard desert landscape on a budget


Transforming your backyard into a desert oasis doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. By strategically planning and using a bit of imagination, you can design the backyard of your dreams that is not only beautiful but functional and fits inside your budget. Here are a few ways you can create that beautiful desert backyard without breaking the bank.

Design and planning

Designing a beautiful backyard begins with planning. Start by looking at your yard. Examine the layout and imagine what elements you want to fit into your yard. If you get stuck use these few steps to help get you started.

Do your research. Look at the homes around you that have beautiful spaces and what makes their backyards so beautiful. It may be a water feature, a beautiful herb garden or a fire pit. There are many things you can do that it doesn’t have to be so expensive. Gather inspiration and pay attention to the layout of your yard. You may have a natural rock formation or were lucky enough to get a saguaro in your backyard. Build around those features that are already there and then move.

Examine the overall space of your yard. Look at its shape. Take note of how the sun hits your yard in the morning and evening so you can better understand where to put certain plants. Check your soil and add soil in areas where you want to add plants and vegetation.

Once you have examined all the aspects of your yard and have an idea do a small drawing. It doesn’t have to be to scale or be perfect. Just something that will help you imagine and plan what you want to do. Once you have your plan create your budget of how much you want to spend and move on from there. Also know everything doesn’t have to be done at once. You can do one part of your yard and then save up to do the next part. It may take longer but you aren’t stretching yourself thin this way and you will still get the yard you want.

Use cost-effective materials

Using the right materials is crucial when working on a budget. Consider using drought resistant plants. You can create a beautiful backyard without spending money on plants that don’t match our climate. Many times, these products look more natural to the overall landscape.

For pathways consider gravel or sand. These materials are cheaper, low maintenance and provide a great natural look to the yard. Selecting drought-resistant plants means you save money on your water bill, and they basically take care of themselves. The only time you may need to worry about them is during the winter if there is a frost.

Maintenance and plant selection

Choosing the right plants for your backyard is critical for the success of your desert landscape. Look at plants that have different blooming periods. That way you always have something blooming. When deciding on which plants to purchase and plant make sure you do your research. Understand the climate in which certain plants must be planted, the water requirements, and soil conditions. If you are unsure what to choose, try visiting a local nursery or speak with local gardeners to get the best advice on what plants to choose for your new backyard.

Plan for the growth of your plants before you put them in the ground. Many plants will spread and as they mature will grow. You don’t want to plant your flowers or bushes too close to each other because they will end up fighting for water and sun and may die off. Understanding what plants you purchase and how they will grow will help you plant them accordingly so they last for years to come.

Lastly, maintain your plants. Prune your plants if needed at the right time of year. Cut off dead ends, water them as necessary, fertilize at least three times a year. Drip systems will leach nutrients from the ground. So be prepared. Plants can be finicky little creatures so know what you are planting and how to take care of them before you even decide on what to purchase so you can maintain them properly. The last thing you want is to spend money on a bunch of plants, not knowing how to really take care of them and then they die. Do your research beforehand.

Adding a personal touch

This is your backyard. Add a personal touch where you can. Create focal points that you want your friends and family to look at when they come over and give you praise about how beautiful it is. Adding personal touches is rewarding and makes your yard unique to those around you.

Try building a functional feature in your yard like a nice seating area or a fire pit. Add accents where you can, like mosaic tiles or ceramic pieces to add a bit of art to your space. Look for opportunities to use recycled materials other than wood or stone. Check out thrift shops or antique stores for unique pieces you can repurpose into planters or create natural sculptures in your yard. You don’t have to go over the top, but any little thing could be your next great idea for a focal point if you use a little imagination.

Following these few ideas and incorporating your own creativity into your space will help any homeowner create a backyard desert landscape of their dreams. Being on a budget doesn’t mean your backyard can’t be the envy of the neighborhood. With careful planning, being resourceful and adding a bit of imagination you can turn your old yard into an oasis that everyone will want to visit, and you can be proud of.

Desert Designer Landscape & Development specializes in individualized desert landscaping designs throughout the Valley.