Basic guide to making a desert-style garden

Agave, nopal and sage are just some of the species that you can grow in your desert garden. Here’s how to do it.

Last update: January 09, 2022

If you are a plant lover, but don’t have a lot of time to spend on pruning and watering, a desert style garden could be the option you were looking for to decorate the outside area of ​​your house. Desert gardens have become very popular as they require an initial investment and then the expenses tend to decrease.

Now, you may be worried that your garden is not colorful. However, although it follows this trend, there are plants from these biomes with striking and showy tones, as is the case of the desert rose.

Characteristics and components of a desert garden

As you may have guessed from the name, this type of garden mimics the desert biome. Therefore, one of its main characteristics is the scarcity of water, which makes it a precious element for design and whose use must be controlled.

Likewise, these spaces usually have little vegetation. Hence, they result in large swaths of open sky. This is also the reason why these gardens create a sober aesthetic.

For its part, plants should be specimens that do not require a lot of water and that they benefit from the rains, just like in arid areas! To help them, it is common to add gravel or sand pavers. These are very useful for capturing rainwater so that plants can use it later.

Consider that the lawn can fulfill a similar function to that of pavers. However, this is unnatural in a desert biome and requires a larger water supply. So if you want to add it, do it in moderation. You can even go for an artificial option.

We talk about the water, right? And how valuable it is in this type of garden. Thus, there are those who add swimming pools with the idea of ​​recreating an oasis and it looks fabulous!

Just remember that deserts have a high evaporation rate, so you will require frequent water replenishment. A more viable option would be a small fountain or a swimming pool with a circulation pump, the movement of which prevents evaporation.

Lastly, there is the shadow. Some plants can withstand the harsh sun, but others require the protection of a desert tree, such as mesquite. There are also those who add this element by making use of pergolas, shade screens or umbrellas.

When trying to reproduce the desert ecosystem, you should consider that not all plants thrive under these conditions.

Recommended plants for a desert-style garden

Even if it is best to decorate with native plants or compatible with the climatic conditions, there are some that are representative of this type of garden. We show them below:

  • Organ pipe cactus.
  • Barrel cactus, also known as barrel of gold, golden ball or mother in law seat.
  • Agave.
  • Nopal.
  • Sage.
  • Desert calendula.
  • Mesquite.
  • Bougainvillea
  • Willow of the desert.

How to make a desert garden?

Let’s see step by step how to make your desert garden come true. Go for it!

1. Create the layout

Before you start planting a little planning is necessary. Determine where your desert-style garden will be and create a design. In this place the plants, the cobblestones, the fountain or the pool, and even the element that you will use to provide shade.

2. Prepare the ground

Start by getting rid of all the weeds that are in the area and make sure you pluck them from the root. Also put the stones aside, since the ground should be as smooth as possible.

Continue adding sand, fine gravel, or other material that will allow the soil to aerate. In this way, both the water and the nutrients will be able to penetrate better. As you do so, recheck the terrain, remove any brush you missed, and grade according to the layout you created.

3. Lay out the garden fabric

Also known as mesh or anti-weed fabric, this is of great benefit to your garden. Not only does it allow water to be filtered, but it also makes the stones stay fixed.

The fabric is spread on the ground and fixed with the help of nails. Then stones of different sizes and colors are added. Since it is a desert garden, it is best to use sand or brown tones.

White stones tend to reflect too much light.

Stones are an excellent resource to define the areas of your garden. Whether it’s the trails or where the plants will be.

4. Add large stones

Now start what is likely to become your favorite part of gardening: decorating. The first element is the large stones, which will serve to add realism to your personal desert biome. Choose between different sizes and colors, but that fit the aesthetics.

5. Plant the plants!

At this point, it is likely that you have chosen between the species that we recommend above or others that have been irresistible to you. A) Yes, It only remains to sow in the places that you have determined for it.

Move the small stones, cut out the cloth and plant the roots of the plant in the ground. This will be a procedure that you must repeat with each one.

The desert-style garden may have succulents as the main protagonists, but there are other options.

6. And the maintenance of the garden in the desert style?

As we said, These gardens usually demand at the beginning; that is, during its creation. Then maintenance is lacking. Fertilize once a year and during the summer season one watering every 2 weeks.

Desert-style garden: not everything is succulent

There is no doubt that succulents are the quintessential desert plants for this garden. But nevertheless, this does not mean that you should limit yourself to species of this family.

You can also opt for others, such as the California poppy or the desert bluebells, for example. Also, remember to plant plants with similar demands together.

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