modern desert landscape of az

Best Trees for Desert Landscapes

Designing desert landscapes specific and desert trees in your desert landscaping will bring out its beauty. Choosing what trees to plant in your mind with which to create that awe-inspiring design! Compared to other desert plants that are not as tall which makes trees the center piece of any grand desert landscape design.

Why desert trees?

Desert trees flourish in places with hot temperatures and very little rainfall year round. As an Arizona native, I am always taken when a client asks us to design a landscape with trees that are not native to our area. It’s always the same: “I’ll be sure to water it and care for it just as if I was back east”. It just doesn’t work. We have many options when it comes to what type of trees, shrubs, or cacti we will work into our desert landscapes in areas like Arizona; it’s not like we can only select from one type of native cacti.

Backyard Landscape in Queen Creek by EV Land

Native desert trees offer a wide range of shapes and sizes compared to temperate trees that make their variety a great addition to a dry desert space. Many people think of desert trees as cacti with no shade whatsoever. But nothing could be further from the truth. Desert landscapes are dynamic. 

desert trees
Desert landscapes don’t have to look like this.

Types of Desert Trees to Choose from for Landscaping Designs in the Southwest

Here are suggestions for what trees to use for unique and beautiful landscaping designs. Listed are Sonoran desert trees which are useful for creating a unified landscaping design but better with the right desert plants matching them. Once installed and flourishing they will require little water to survive and will need minimal maintenance.

Joshua Tree

Joshua tree

A slow-growing yucca that is found in the Mojave desert. A great focal point in any design because of its size when mature! Easy to grow and take care of which is a good choice for any desert garden or landscape.

Palo Blanco

With white bark and weeping branches that shed in a drought. Clumped together like small forests without dense branches and gives light shade. Not very hardy in chilly weather so it may die because of it.

Desert Willow

Desert Willow

Not related to willows but looks like it but requires more water to bloom. The blooms are pretty and can take hot or cold weather, is also deciduous (sheds annually) as well. Placed facing south for summer shade but in winter for sunlight is advised.

Velvet Mesquite

Hybridizes with other trees easily and will produce random offspring with other trees.  Used in the most natural desert landscaping designs is the best option for it. Grows really fast compared to other trees and may have spines on the bark for a distinctive look. The spines on it give it a distinctive design concept for desert scaping.

Palo Verde

Palo verde

Creates variety with multiple branches and trunks for a visual element with a desert landscape. Has blooms and without thorns with green bark that’s all over for decorative options. Green tinges all over with no thorns make it nice for focus in any design.

Iron Wood

Visually beautiful with its dense evergreen leaves that’s all year round! Blooms are mauve flowers which don’t happen every year but blooms randomly. Covered in tiny sharp spines so pruning less is better because birds can nest in it. If lush evergreen is needed for cover then this is a good option to try.

Conclusion: Best Trees for Desert Landscapes

Overall; utilizing the best trees for desert landscapeswith a variety of kinds to choose from. Desert trees to provide cover and patterns based on size and shape for optimal effect. Choosing the ones with blooms, colorful bark, shade and shapes that will determine its look and how grand the design will be! To have that enviable desert landscape is a pleasure in itself.

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