Aug 10 2020Share

New Tool for Landscaping in the Arizona Desert

By AMWUA Staff

Water-efficient landscapes are a must in our desert climate, but they don’t have to all be the same – adding your sense of style will make it your own and ensure your outdoor living space is everything you want while still being wise with your outdoor water use.

When designing your landscape, it’s important to take into account your own preferences and purposes such as the look you want to achieve, how you will use your yard, the amount of time you want to spend taking care of your yard, and your budget as you develop your unique plan.

Developing that plan is vital because a great yard begins with a great plan, yet typically many people do not know where to start when it comes to developing that outline. To help with all phases of planning and building your yard precisely how you like, there are resources and tips to help design, install and maintain your landscape on the newly updated website Xeriscaping: Landscaping with Style in the Arizona Desert.

Xeriscaping, which is a sensible approach to building an attractive landscape that conserves water, is based on the following seven water-wise principles:

1.1 CarolWM220131 - Good Landscape Planning and Design
Creating a long-term plan will help you get the most out of your landscape while considering issues like cost, function, aesthetic preferences, maintenance requirements, water efficiency, and energy efficiency. You can tailor the plan to suit your taste, your needs, and your checkbook.

2 - Low Water Use Plants
There are hundreds of water-thrifty native or desert-adapted plants available at local nurseries. They come in all shapes and sizes and serve a variety of purposes, from shade to seasonal color to screen unsightly areas. Many low water use plants have beautiful flowers or interesting forms.

3 - Appropriate Turf Areas
Although turf generally requires more water and maintenance than low water use plants, sometimes only grass will do, especially if there are children or pets at home. Small turf areas can be incorporated successfully into a xeriscape landscape if they are properly planned, installed, and maintained.

4 - Efficient Irrigation
In the desert, almost all new plants should be watered regularly to get them established, and most plants will need some kind of regular irrigation. Design your irrigation system so plants with similar watering needs are on the same valve. Water deeply and infrequently, and remember to adjust irrigation seasonally.

5 - Soil Improvements
Desert-adapted plants will naturally thrive in our environment without fertilizers or soil supplements. Provide proper drainage and loosen the soil when planting to encourage healthy root growth. Soil amendments will most likely be needed for turf areas and areas where more water-thirsty plants are installed.

LWS Rock6 - Use of Mulches
Mulches cover and cool the soil, reduce evaporation, and help to inhibit weed growth and erosion. The most popular organic mulches are bark chips and wood grindings. Fallen leaves and flowers can also be left as mulch. Decomposed granite and crushed rock are two of the most popular inorganic mulches.

7 - Appropriate Maintenance
When properly designed and maintained, xeriscape yards save water, time and money through reduced plant watering needs and lower maintenance requirements. But that does not mean any water use and no attention. All landscapes need some care, and a well-maintained irrigation system will keep plants healthy and water use to a minimum.

With a better understanding of xeriscape, you are now ready to learn precisely how to design, install, and maintain all elements of your landscape. Also, there are numerous resources to offer some support, as well as a photo gallery and advice on professional services – if you need some assistance. There are also suggested places to visit for inspiration including xeriscape demonstration gardens of AMWUA cities. In fact, you can even virtually tour some of them, including the Glendale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden.

Now you have everything you need for landscaping with your own style in mind so that your yard becomes the outdoor retreat you have always envisioned. The possibilities for creating a beautiful, easy to care for a landscape that thrives in our environment while using less water are endless.

For over 50 years, the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe, and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information, visit

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