If you live in a dry, nearly frost-free climate, here’s a small backyard design that’s as natural as your environment. Inspired by desert landscapes, the design uses striking plants that thrive in desert soils and need less water than exotic plants too often grown in desert and semi-arid gardens.

The plantings are designed to complement an existing patio or deck off the house, as indicated on the plan(The rendering shows a view from the house.) IN place of a water-thirsty lawn, birds-eye gravel covers the entire area, providing a natural-looking setting for the desert plants. 

The plants are grouped on two low, wide mounds, indicated by broken lines on the plan. Thorny ocotillos and cacti top the mounds with tropical bougainvilleas below, where they’ll receive runoff from rainfall. Little supplemental watering will be needed after the plants are established. 

The garden is at its most colorful in springtime, as shown here, when just about everything is in bloom. If the climate doesn’t compel you outdoors, the blossoms will. When the summer heat bleaches most things gray, you’ll still be able to enjoy splashes of gold bougainvillea and drifts of lavender lantana from your vantage point in the shade. In winger, the evergreen foliage of the palo verde and Mexican tree grass will contribute lush green color to the landscape. 

Credit: Western Home Landscaping (highly recommended book)

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