New Xeriscaping Ideas For Phoenix, AZ

Posted by Joseph Barnes on Mar 18, 2024 12:48:32 PM

Think the tap has run dry for new xeriscaping ideas for Phoenix, Arizona? Not by a long shot, and we’re going to highlight fresh ones for you today.

In the last decade, Phoenix has become a highly desirable city and is one of the fastest-growing areas in the nation. Let's look at the definition of xeriscaping—a landscaping method developed for arid and semiarid climates, utilizing water-conserving techniques like drought-tolerant plants, granite rock, and efficient irrigation. The Denver Water Department trademarked “xeriscaping” in 1981.

This landscaping strategy is critical to Phoenix because, though it may be obvious to lifelong residents, this area is a desert! Luckily for commercial property owners, an xeriscape does not mean “zero landscaping” or being left bare with few options. In fact, the term is pronounced “zeer-a-scape” instead of “zero-scape.” 

As we introduce new ideas for your commercial xeriscape, we will note the countless environmental benefits that go hand in hand with the inherent cost-savings. You won’t believe how many gallons it takes to water a tiny patch of turf in an arid climate like Phoenix.

Xeriscaping Ideas Across Different Commercial Properties

We’ll jump right into xeriscaping ideas for specific types of Phoenix area commercial properties.

Hotels: Your guests will be as impressed by a high-quality xeriscape as they would be by a traditional green landscape. Using unique granite rocks as part of your water features is a great way to set your hotel landscaping apart. And with rainwater harvesting systems, a water feature makes perfect financial sense. 

HOAs: These properties are another opportunity to utilize rainwater—as part of the irrigation system in this case. One study showed a single house roof can collect up to 400 gallons of water from a half-inch of rain with a proper rainwater harvesting system.

Apartments: It’s not hard to attract new residents and keep current ones by enhancing your property with xeriscape features like river patterns created with various granite rock varieties. You may have noticed similar unique landscape rock patterns along Phoenix highways—many created by Yellowstone Landscape for the Arizona DOT. 

Warehouses: Large properties require smart xeriscape solutions, beginning with low-water-climate grasses, shrubs, and trees. These properties are often suited for grasses utilized around visually appealing retention ponds, much like Phoenix area parks.

By the way, Bear grass and Deer grass are two native turf options built to thrive in the desert. All the properties above are good fits for granite boulders to accent entryways, but another unique option is a native cactus called the Saguaro (caution: you need a permit to have planted or moved, and it can be expensive).


Cactus Rock Design


Creative Uses of Granite Rock in Xeriscaping

Rock is the new mulch. This is especially true in dry climates and is perfect for xeriscaping ideas for Phoenix, AZ. Granite rock is the most in-demand landscape rock currently and is being used to beautify local school systems while accommodating their ever-tightening budgets. Granite rock is extremely durable, and versatile, and design possibilities are boundless with unique features due to their mineral makeup and geological processes that formed them.

Our landscape designers are leaning into their creativity by developing visually interesting rock patterns that were once only found in green landscaping (think lawn stripes and annual color patterns). We mentioned the flowing river bed rock features along Phoenix roads, but below are more xeriscaping ideas featuring rock.

  • Mosaic Patterns: Intricate designs using rocks of different shapes, sizes, and colors. 
  • Geometric Options: Arrange rocks in circles, squares, triangles, etc. to create a modern Phoenix xeriscape.
  • Spiral Designs: Add a sense of movement and flow to your commercial landscaping.
  • Checkerboards or Grids: Alternate different rock types for a striking, organized look in landscape designs.

Mulch isn’t extinct in Arizona, of course. Rock has replaced it in many cases because rock lasts longer, offers more visual variety, and isn’t easily washed out. When mulch is used, commercial properties are typically using pine bark, which has one advantage over rock— it keeps the soil cooler.

Rock Design Along roadway Xeriscaping

Incorporating Native Flora in Phoenix

Stick around because at the end of this post will be Yellowstone Landscape’s list of flora options to go with Phoenix xeriscaping ideas. These will include grasses, shrubs, bushes, and trees (including several native varieties). For now, let’s focus on cacti and succulents.

Ask any expert landscaper, and they’ll tell novice gardeners to choose plants that are easy to keep alive. There are few better examples of this than succulents and cacti, known for thriving in dry conditions and not needing constant care or watering. Agave plants (in the succulent family) are so hardy and hold so much moisture in their leaves that some are even considered fire-retardant!

The Desert spoon is a lovely native Phoenix succulent that will beautify any xeriscape. The same goes for the native Hedgehog cactus with shades of red and pink adding surprising splashes of color.

Xeriscaping in Public and Community Spaces

We expect xeriscaping to continue to gain popularity across the country, and Phoenix municipalities are making a beautiful case for this landscaping method. From implementation by the DOT to school systems to parks and recreation areas, sustainable landscaping is highlighted as both smart and aesthetically pleasing. Not a minute too soon because…

It's not only extreme heat during the daytime that makes landscaping a challenge in Arizona, but nighttime temps are also on the rise. As climates change regionally, we must stay ahead of the game by using sustainable practices now, regardless of current drought conditions - because change is the one constant. 

Xeriscaping is the best solution for these challenges. As you’ll see below, there are smart steps for making your xeriscaping ideas successful while saving you money.

  • Drip Irrigation: The perfect landscape “life support system”—it’s now rare to see any spray-type irrigation in the Phoenix area.
  • Native Plants: Beyond benefits like hardiness and attracting desert pollinators, these plants don’t usually require any soil additives.
  • Grouping: This means installing plants with similar water requirements close to each other.
  • Proper Pruning: Expert trimming is critical in arid climates because “pruning wounds” let moisture evaporate, plus, improper pruning removes shade needed by roots, stems, and trunks.

As for replacing turf with non-plant material such as granite rock? One report showed that it took roughly 105,000 gallons of water to irrigate a 3,000-square-foot lawn versus just 44,000 gallons for an xeriscape.

Rock Design Surrounding Tree


Xeriscaping Ideas for Phoenix, Arizona Wrap-Up (+resources)

It doesn’t take much convincing to start on new xeriscaping ideas for Phoenix because it overcomes climate challenges and stretches your landscaping budget. The best part? You aren’t missing out on amazing aesthetics, either. This is true regardless of the type of property you are managing (HOA landscapes, landscaping for office buildings, warehouse properties, or hotel landscaping).

Xeriscaping is the new landscaping for many areas of the country. This evolution is not going to slow down. Areas like Phoenix have little choice since the dry climate dictates how we create and maintain commercial landscapes. Other states with regular rainfall do have options. But for how long? 

In our opinion, there’s no need to wait because using innovative xeriscaping principles can enhance any landscape. Phoenix is living proof. 

Are you ready to start on your xeriscaping ideas and need a partner with proven experience in your city? Contact our Yellowstone Landscape Phoenix location. Together we’ll create your ideal xeriscape.

More resources are below, along with the list of Phoenix flora options we promised (*native Phoenix plants are noted). 

Ideal Phoenix Shrubs:

  • Bougainvillea
  • Lantana
  • Oleander (Dwarf pink oleanders most common)
  • Red birds of paradise
  • Shrubby cinquefoil (native)
  • Tecoma yellow bells (native)
  • Texas sage‌

Grasses for Phoenix:

  • Bear grass (native)
  • Common blue fescue
  • Deer grass (native)
  • Fountain grass
  • Outback sunrise emu
  • Trailing rosemary‌

Recommended Phoenix Area Trees:

  • Arizona ash (native)
  • Chinese elm
  • Desert willow (native)
  • Ironwood (native)
  • Mesquite (native)
  • Palo verde (native)
  • Red push pistache
  • Southern live oak‌

Phoenix Perennials:

  • Blanket flower
  • Chocolate flower (native)
  • Desert marigold
  • Globemallow (native)
  • Mexican bush sage
  • Penstemon (native)
  • Purple ruellia
  • Rain lily

Phoenix Cacti Options:

  • Golden barrel
  • Hedgehog cactus (native)
  • Prickly pear (native)
  • Purple prickly pear
  • Mexican fence post
  • Saguaro (native)

Recommended Phoenix Agave:

  • Century plant
  • Desert spoon (native)
  • Red yucca
  • Yellow hesperaloe



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Joseph Barnes

About The Author

Joseph Barnes

Joseph Barnes has served as Marketing Manager of Yellowstone Landscape since 2013. He writes on a variety of topics related to the commercial landscaping industry.