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Landscape Design

Southwest Landscaping Ideas

Design inspiration for creating beautiful landscapes in a dry southwestern climate

  • Quercus in Corrales, NM
  • Boxhill Landscape Design in Tucson, AZ
  • Bianchi Design in Scottsdale, AZ
  • Casa Serena Landscape Designs LLC in Tucson, AZ
  • WaterQuest, Inc. in Albuquerque, NM
  • John Vogley Landscape Arch in Palm Desert, CA
  • Azul-Verde Design Group, Inc. in Cave Creek, AZ
  • Exteriors by Chad Robert, Inc. in Phoenix, AZ
  • Alexon Design Group in Gilbert, AZ
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Southwest Landscape Design

Use this design sheet to help you create the perfect Southwest landscape. You'll get ideas for color, décor, materials, plants and fabric. It is a great starting point for any New Mexico or Arizona landscaping project.

Southwest Landscape Design (PDF)

View all Landscape Design Style Guides

The Southwest garden represents the dry arid regions of the west. However, you don’t have to live in those regions to admirer and implement their beauty into your own yard. The southwest style is known for its Native American and Spanish details that contribute to the overall simple, functional and low maintenance landscape. The southwest design includes native plants, and incorporates bright, colorful building materials.

Elements within Southwest gardens:

  • Native American decor
  • Terracotta tiles
  • Fountains
  • Olla pottery
  • Red clay pavers
  • Natural stone
  • Plaster
  • Gravel
  • Decomposed Granite
  • Wood
  • Desert hues

When it comes to hardscaping materials, stick with colors like orange, yellow, red and brown that are often seen in the sunset or natural landscapes of the southwest. Use similar buildings materials in areas like driveways, walkways, and walls to keep a consistent flow throughout the design. Decomposed granite is available in many desert color options and is a great material choice for walkways. Using unique brightly colored décor and plantings will make the landscape pop in areas and add character to your yard.

Common elements within a Southwest garden:

  1. Patio - areas are an important element within this design style. A shaded area is a must especially in areas with extreme heat in the summers. Most patios provide a large shaded entertainment area that is an extension of your homes living space.
  2. Dry creek bed - is a great way to represent water within your southwest landscape. River rock can be laid intermixed with different sized stones and boulders with native, drought tolerant plantings surrounding the edges.
  3. Terracing - is recommended in areas where topography is sloped. Building materials like stone, boulders, or railroad ties can be used to contribute to southwestern design.
  4. Lawns - are usually not incorporated into a southwest garden unless the homeowner has children or pets in need of some open play space, however, some just prefer the look of having turf in their plan. Design a small area with a turf species that is drought tolerant, or you have the option of using artificial turf as well.
  5. Colorful plantings - that are native and woody are ideal for this southwest plant palette. Flowering shrubs that attract birds and other wildlife mix perfectly with the desert colored hardscape material.
  6. Lighting - is important when showing off the appeal of the southwest design in the night as well. Accent lighting enhances the color, shape and native plants used in your landscape.

The Southwest design style adds comfort to your home by extending your outdoor living space with a spacious covered patio, decorated in hanging and potted plants, wall decorations and colorful accessories. If you do decide to use water in your design, use it sparingly; southwest landscapes use minimal water to make a big impact. Elements like birdbaths or water fountains are the perfect option to incorporate water as an element within your design. With limited natural resources, this landscaping style has increased in popularity within residential landscapes because it conserves water, while having a unique rustic appeal.

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