Why blog about landscaping in Arizona?

I created this blog because I love cacti and native plants. When I first moved here, the dramatically different landscape amazed me. I immediately fell in love with the crazy shapes and features of Arizona’s plants. I wanted to landscape my yard–the front yard had a few bushes and the back yard was completely empty. I checked out books from the library and went to nearby nurseries. I learned there is an “easy” way to landscape in Arizona, using popular tropicals, and there is the “hard” way … trying to recreate an authentic native Sonoran desert landscape.

As a somewhat stubborn personality, of course I chose the latter.

This blog is my attempt to document what I learn about landscaping here in Arizona.

Why cacti?

In order to landscape with native Sonoran desert plants and cacti, I find inspiration from the desert around me. The wild desert is the best display of native plants. There are also a few botanical gardens that feature native plants in a more cultivated format.

Cacti are expensive, especially when buying from a nursery or landscaper. In order to landscape without spending a fortune, I’ve started small and worked from there. I’ve learned some plants that are labelled for this area don’t do well, even some cacti are not suited to Phoenix summers, and require shade or frost protection. I prefer plants that do well with minimal maintenance. I’d rather have a yard full of healthy, thriving natives than a yard with a few suffering exotic plants.

I would love to see more information about landscaping desert xeriscape gardens in the Phoenix area. My elevation of 1600 feet above sea level results in more nights that dip below freezing than central Phoenix. The plants that thrive in my yard have to tolerate both heat and some cold. The growing suburban areas around Phoenix have elevations between 1300 and 2000 ft above sea level and probably experience similar temperatures to mine. Some day I hope the local nurseries will recognize our very unique landscape needs.

I am not a horticulturist or cactus expert. What I know comes from my own experience working in my yard and observing landscape ideas at homes around me. Obviously, in landscape design, as in art, a lot is the opinion of the artist. I’ll share my opinion and you can take it from there and create your own cactus garden masterpiece.



10 thoughts on “About

  1. I love your blog! We’re moving to Bullhead City, Arizona from Colorado, and I’m trying to learn how to landscape with Arizona’s native plants. I’m very concerned about the water supply in the Southwest. And I also love the native plants in America’s deserts. So your blog is a huge help to me. Your Sonoran Desert is a bit different from the Mojave Desert where we’re going, but your blog is so well-written that it’s been the biggest help to me so far. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable knowledge, experience and enthusiasm!!

    1. Thank you so much! Sometimes it is hard to stay inspired to keep writing, so thank you for your comment! Let me know if there is something you would like to hear more about.

  2. So interesting – thanks for making the time to do this! I’d like to request permission to use your photo (with a photo credit, of course) in the newsletter for the San Diego Horticultural Society. Please contact me by Sept. 8th if that is possible – thanks!

  3. I came across your web site while looking for a nice ironwood tree for my new home. Do you know someone who may have a tree that would be a 66 – 72 inch box specimen that ideally would have multi trunks?

    1. Hi! I haven’t been shopping for one lately but I wouldn’t buy such a large tree. One nursery I bought ironwoods from said since they were slow growing it took a long time just to get a specimen big enough to sell. Plus a large tree will be expensive and harder to establish. Call around and even if you end up buying a smaller tree, extra water will help it grow faster, especially once established. Local nurseries are usually better than large chains.

  4. Hi! I live in downtown Phoenix. We have a small 4-plex. I want to replace the grass (bermuda) with xeriscape. Do you have any suggestions as towards the “black plastic sheeting” that seems to be used everywhere to suppress/kill the underlying grass? Much thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Ivan!
      We’ve used black plastic to try to kill bermuda grass. It’s on our garden area right now. We bought a 100×20 piece of plastic at Lowes or Home Depot and have left it on over a month. The heat plus lack of water should kill the grass, including roots. This option is a good one for killing the bermuda without having to spray the entire area will chemical. You may still need to spray the border areas where the plastic doesn’t cover.
      Once the grass is dead, you have a blank slate for creating a new landscape.

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