Creative Ways to Enhance Your Phoenix Landscape
By John Williams
Here in the Valley of the Sun, homeowners face a dilemma. We have a climate that allows for year-round outdoor leisure but is challenging for many landscapes. The high heat and low levels of rain can contribute to shaggy, unkempt-looking yards. But with a little vision and foresight, your yard can look its best all the time. Follow these creative ways to enhance your landscape in Phoenix, and you can’t go wrong.
Decrease Turf Areas
The section of the landscape that suffers the most in the arid desert environment is your lawn. The easiest way to combat this is to reduce turf areas by adding walkways, hardscapes, and increasing planting beds in place of turf. You can also replace turf areas with drought-hardy grass varieties such as midiron or Bermudagrass.
White desert plumbago. Credit: Andreanna Moya, Flickr
In flower beds and planting areas, work with our region instead of against it. Planting native and adapted species minimizes the need for irrigation. It also gives you a lower-maintenance landscape that looks great. Consider agaves, white desert plumbago, yuccas, desert fairy duster, and the many species of cacti that thrive here.
During winter, the sun goes down early, but the temperatures are comfortable enough that you’ll want to linger outside. Add lighting to your landscape so you can enjoy nights on the patio, deck, and poolside. A bonus? Well-lit landscapes are safer, and good lighting design lends your landscape an entirely new dimension.
Embrace Modern Design
One of the hottest trends in Phoenix landscapes is a move toward modernism. Swap out a kidney-shaped pool for a geometric pool with right angles. Same goes for planting beds: Arrange plants and trees in masses, and use intense color in your landscape elements.
Sometimes mistakenly referred to “zero-scaping,” this is the practice of using plants and elements that reduce the need for water. Skillfully designed xeriscapes incorporate drought-tolerant plants into gravel or granite-filled beds and planters. Use these to create geometric designs and interesting patterns and textures to complement your home.
Go Pale in the Sun
The heat in Phoenix presents a problem for even the best gardener. The rays of the sun beat down and absorb into darker materials, which then reflect and amplify that heat. From paving to mulch, use lighter-tones, and you’ll be rewarded with less reflected heat. This is especially true poolside, where dark paving can make a short walk to the pool painful.
Pergolas, gazebos, umbrellas, and shade sails all enhance areas where you may want to sit outside. The more shade you create, the more likely you and your guests will want to spend long hours basking outdoors. No matter how much you enjoy the sunshine, you’ll like it more when you’re not baking in it.
The best thing about some of these simple enhancements is that they can only add to the value of your home. Even more important in the short term? They’ll increase your level of enjoyment of your home, which is priceless.
John Williams is an outdoor living expert and explorer. When he’s not traveling to nature’s most well-known beauty spots, he tends to the greenery surrounding his home.