The Q&A Archives: Formal Dry Climate landscape design

Question: Our home screams tradtional formal landscape design (so does my engineer husband), but trying to incorporate low water use plants and keeping maintenance low is difficult. We have 2 established (7 feet tall) Texas Ebonies in front yard, a few Rio Bravo Sages and lots of brick and white wrought iron. Our lawn, front and back receives flood irrigation. All trees and shrubs are in DG areas, with trees influenced by close proximity to much water. I need suggestions for other shrubs and accents for front yard. We do face a busy street.
Thank you, Ann in Arizona

Answer: The most important things when choosing plants are determining what sun exposure (full, partial, shady) they will thrive in and how much space they need to grow to maturity (both vertically and horizontally), and then comparing that with what your landscape offers. Desert plants, when sited where they have room to grow so no unnecessary pruning is needed, are remarkably low-maintenance, far more than people understand. There are so many colorful possibilities and since I can't know your likes and dislikes I'm going to suggest a great resource. Contact the Mesa City Water Conservation Department for a free copy of Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. It is a color guide listing more than 200 low-water-use plants, along with growing and special characteristics (e.g., hummingbirds, screening, etc.) They also offer various landscaping classes to residents periodically, so ask them for a schedule. Take photos and/or rough sketches of the dimensions, sun exposures, etc. and you'll get a wealth of ideas. Good luck!

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