Landscaping in the Valley of the Sun and Arizona

by | Jul 13, 2023 | Home & Real Estate

In the Valley of the Sun, the stunning desert landscape meets a vibrant urban life. In Phoenix and its surrounding cities, the outdoors isn't just a location—it's a way of life. With over 300 sun-drenched days each year, creating an inviting outdoor living space is more than just a home improvement project; it's an opportunity to extend your living area, entertain guests, and fully embrace Arizona's unique beauty and climate. Whether you're a local, a traveler, or considering a relocation, our ultimate guide will help you design, implement, and enjoy your dream outdoor living space right here in Phoenix and Arizona. From savvy landscaping tips to cool entertainment ideas, let's dive in and start turning your backyard into a personal desert oasis.

In this Article

Understanding the Desert Climate

If you’re planning to create your dream outdoor living space in Phoenix, the first thing to consider is the desert climate. Arizona’s unique weather presents a palette of opportunities that differ from traditional garden landscapes. Here, you can embrace the rugged charm of the desert with a landscape design that harmonizes with its surroundings.

The desert climate is characterized by low rainfall, intense sunlight, and dry air, all of which can influence your choice of plants, construction materials, and design elements. Recognizing these features of the desert climate will help you create an outdoor space that survives and thrives in the Valley of the Sun.

Drought-Tolerant Plants

In a desert environment like Phoenix, selecting drought-tolerant plants is key to establishing an eco-friendly and low-maintenance landscape. Native Arizona plants, such as the majestic Saguaro cactus, the fiery red Bird of Paradise, and the sprawling Brittlebush, are adapted to survive the arid conditions, requiring less water and care than non-native species.

Drought-tolerant plants also provide a splash of color and texture to your outdoor living space. The deep greens of Agave contrast with the silvery shades of the Blue Palo Verde, while the vibrant blooms of the Desert Marigold bring a dash of yellow to your garden. With a little research and planning, you can curate a drought-tolerant garden that celebrates the unique flora of the Arizona desert.

Irrigation Systems

Even the most drought-tolerant plants need some water, and in the arid Phoenix climate, that means irrigation. Drip irrigation systems are an excellent choice for desert landscapes. These systems deliver water directly to the base of your plants, minimizing evaporation and making the most of every drop.

It’s important to remember, though, that different plants have different watering needs. Native desert plants are adapted to periods of dryness followed by heavy rain, so a watering schedule that mimics this pattern will help them thrive. On the other hand, plants native to other climates may require a more consistent water supply.

Investing in a smart irrigation controller can also help you manage your watering schedule more effectively. These devices can adjust your watering schedule based on the weather, ensuring your plants get just the right amount of water they need.

In embracing the desert climate, we tap into a form of gardening that’s not only practical but also profoundly in tune with the Phoenix landscape. By understanding the climate, choosing the right plants, and implementing effective irrigation, you’re laying the groundwork for a stunning outdoor living space that’s quintessentially Arizonian.

Beating the Heat: Shade and Cooling Strategies

Patio Covers and Pergolas

One of the most effective ways to beat the heat in your outdoor living space is by incorporating shade structures. Patio covers and pergolas are ideal for providing respite from the Phoenix sun, helping to create a cool, comfortable space where you can relax or entertain.

Patio covers, such as awnings or gazebos, can provide full shade, shielding you and your guests from direct sunlight. On the other hand, pergolas, with their open-beam roofs, can create a lovely dappled shade effect that keeps the area cooler while still allowing some light to filter through.

Both patio covers and pergolas come in various designs and materials. Consider choosing ones that blend seamlessly with your home’s architecture and the surrounding landscape for a cohesive look.

Outdoor Cooling Systems

While shade structures can help reduce the temperature, during the hottest days of Phoenix summers, you might need additional cooling methods. Enter outdoor cooling systems. Misting systems and evaporative coolers can significantly lower the temperature of your outdoor living space.

Misting systems emit a fine mist that evaporates quickly, bringing down the air temperature around it. They can be installed in patio covers, pergolas, or stand-alone units, providing a cool, refreshing environment.

Evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers, are another effective cooling option, especially in low-humidity areas like Phoenix. They work by evaporating water into the air, which cools the surrounding area.

Arizona Pool Landscaping Design

Pool Paradise

If you have the space and budget, installing a pool or spa can offer a fantastic way to cool off and act as a focal point for your outdoor design. Pools and spas can be customized to fit your space and design aesthetic, from infinity pools that offer a sleek, modern look to naturalistic pool designs that mimic a desert oasis.

Keep in mind that pools require regular maintenance to keep the water clean and safe for use. If you’re concerned about water usage, consider a pool cover to reduce evaporation, and choose energy-efficient equipment to keep your pool running smoothly.

The Phoenix heat can be intense, but with strategic shade solutions, effective cooling systems, and perhaps even a splash in your own pool, you’ll be well-equipped to enjoy your dream outdoor living space, even in the height of summer.

Outdoor Entertainment: Making the Most of Your Space

Outdoor Kitchens

Creating an outdoor kitchen is a fantastic way to elevate your alfresco dining experience in Phoenix. Think beyond the barbecue grill—contemporary outdoor kitchens include amenities such as refrigerators, sinks, pizza ovens, wine coolers, and ample counter space for food prep. The convenience of having these amenities outdoors means less time running back and forth to the indoor kitchen and more time enjoying the company of your guests.

Choose materials for your outdoor kitchen that can withstand the Phoenix weather. Stainless steel is a popular choice for appliances due to its durability and ease of cleaning. For countertops, materials like granite, concrete, or tiles can withstand high temperatures and provide a sturdy surface for food prep.

Fire Pits and Outdoor Fireplaces

Regarding outdoor entertainment in Phoenix, fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are a great addition. They provide cozy warmth on those cooler desert evenings and create a charming ambiance for gatherings.

There are numerous styles and sizes of fire pits and outdoor fireplaces, from rustic stone designs to sleek, modern metal options. Some even double as a grill for barbecuing. Always ensure that fire safety guidelines are followed, keeping these elements a safe distance from structures and flammable materials.

Alfresco Dining and Lounging Areas

Once your outdoor kitchen and fire features are set, it’s time to think about seating. Creating dedicated areas for dining and lounging encourages relaxation and conversation.

When choosing outdoor furniture, look for pieces that can stand up to the Arizona sun and require little maintenance. Some popular choices include teak, which weathers beautifully; aluminum, which resists rust and fading; and all-weather wicker, which offers a classic look with modern durability.

For added comfort, incorporate outdoor rugs, throw pillows, and blankets, adding a splash of color and making your outdoor living space feel as comfortable as your indoor living room.

Incorporating an outdoor kitchen, fire pit or fireplace, and dedicated dining and lounging areas can transform your backyard into the ultimate outdoor entertainment space. With these features, your home will be the go-to spot for family gatherings, dinner parties, and casual hangouts all year round.

Lighting Up the Desert Night: Outdoor Lighting Options

Safety and Ambience

Outdoor lighting plays a crucial role in creating a dreamy and inviting outdoor living space in Phoenix. It provides essential visibility for safety while enhancing the ambiance of your garden and entertainment areas. Strategically placed lighting can highlight the architectural features of your home, the textures of your landscaping, and the pathways in your garden.

For safety, consider installing path lights to illuminate walkways, ensuring guests can navigate your yard safely. Downlighting from trees can also create well-lit spaces while adding an enchanting glow.

For ambiance, uplighting can be used to emphasize the beautiful shapes of cacti and other plants, while a string of lanterns or fairy lights can lend a festive, intimate feel to your alfresco dining or lounging areas.

Solar-Powered Lighting

Solar-powered outdoor lighting is an efficient and eco-friendly choice in a sun-drenched city like Phoenix. These lights charge during the day and automatically light up as the sun sets, providing a low-maintenance lighting solution for your outdoor space.

From solar pathway lights to decorative solar lanterns, numerous solar lighting options suit your style and needs. Not only do these lights help reduce energy consumption, but they also eliminate the need for extension cords, creating a cleaner and safer outdoor space.

Lighting transforms your outdoor space as the sun sets, allowing you to enjoy your desert oasis even after dark. With safety in mind, an appreciation for ambiance, and a nod to the sustainable energy offered by the Phoenix sun, your lighting choices can truly make your outdoor living space shine.

Local Experts and Resources

Phoenix Landscaping Experts

Creating your dream outdoor living space can be a rewarding experience, but it can also come with its challenges. That’s where local Phoenix landscaping experts come in. With knowledge of the local climate, plant species, and design trends, they can help transform your vision into reality.

When choosing a landscaping expert, consider their experience, expertise, and past projects. Reviews and testimonials from past clients can give you a sense of their reliability and quality of work. It’s also beneficial if they can provide a clear project timeline and transparent cost estimates to ensure there are no surprises along the way.

Local Home and Garden Shows

For inspiration and practical advice, look no further than Phoenix’s local home and garden shows. These events bring together homeowners, garden enthusiasts, and industry professionals. They are a great opportunity to see the latest trends in outdoor living, get new ideas, and connect with local experts.

Home and garden shows often feature exhibits on various outdoor living topics, from the latest in drought-resistant plants to cutting-edge outdoor kitchen appliances. Attending these events can be invaluable in planning and creating your dream outdoor living space.

Your journey to creating the perfect outdoor space doesn’t have to be walked alone. Leaning on the expertise of local professionals and making the most of available resources can pave the way for a smooth and successful project, bringing you one step closer to your dream Phoenix outdoor oasis.

RELATED: Design Projects for Your Arizona Home

Maintaining Your Oasis: Care and Upkeep

Regular Plant Care

Once your dream outdoor living space is realized, maintaining the health and beauty of your plants is paramount. Each plant species in your garden will have its own set of needs, from watering frequency to the type of soil they prefer.

Many desert plants are adapted to survive with minimal care, but some may require pruning to manage their growth and remove dead or diseased parts. Periodic inspection of your plants for signs of pests or disease can help keep them in good shape and protect the overall health of your garden.

Outdoor Furniture and Feature Care

Your outdoor furniture and features also need regular care to keep them looking their best. This can involve cleaning, sealing, or applying protective covers during extreme weather.

For instance, stainless steel appliances in your outdoor kitchen may need regular cleaning and an occasional application of a protective finish. Wooden furniture may need to be sealed to protect it from the elements. Fire pits and fireplaces should be cleaned out regularly, and any gas or electrical features should be checked for safety.

Pool and Water Feature Maintenance

If your outdoor living space includes a pool or water feature, regular maintenance is key to keeping them clean, safe, and functioning properly. This can involve checking and adjusting chemical levels, cleaning filters, and removing debris.

For larger pools and water features, you may want to consider hiring a professional maintenance service. These professionals can help ensure your pool or water feature stays in top condition so that you can enjoy it worry-free.

Maintaining your outdoor living space is just as important as creating it. With regular care and upkeep, your dream outdoor oasis in Phoenix can provide a stunning, inviting space to enjoy the beautiful desert surroundings for years to come.

Enjoying Your Outdoor Oasis: Seasonal Activities and Events

Year-Round Al Fresco Dining

With Phoenix’s mild winters and warm springs and autumns, al fresco dining can be a year-round activity. From casual barbecues to elegant dinner parties, your outdoor living space is the perfect venue. In the summer, plan your dining for early mornings or late evenings when the temperatures are cooler.

Adding seasonal touches to your outdoor dining space, like spring flowers or autumnal centerpieces, can make each dining experience feel special and connected to the Arizona seasons.

Outdoor Movie Nights

Turn your backyard into a private movie theater by setting up an outdoor projector and screen. During the cooler months, gather around the fire pit with cozy blankets, homemade popcorn, and your favorite film for a unique outdoor cinema experience under the starlit Phoenix sky.

Poolside Parties and Events

Make a splash with poolside parties during the hot Phoenix summers. Whether it’s a laid-back weekend gathering or a festive holiday celebration, your pool can be the centerpiece of many memorable events. Keep plenty of sunscreen on hand, and consider adding fun elements like inflatable pool floats, water games, or even a poolside bar for the adults.

Quiet Desert Evenings

Your outdoor oasis isn’t just for entertaining. It’s also a place where you can enjoy the peace and tranquility of the desert. Spend quiet evenings watching the sunset, stargazing, or simply taking in the sounds and sights of the Arizona desert.

Phoenix’s desert climate provides a unique opportunity to engage in outdoor activities and events throughout the year. By taking full advantage of your outdoor living space, you can create countless memorable experiences and truly enjoy the beauty of your outdoor desert oasis.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much is landscaping in Phoenix and Tucson AZ?

The cost of landscaping can vary greatly based on the size of your property, the type of landscaping you want, and the complexity of the design. In Phoenix, you can expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $20,000 or more. On the other hand, in Tucson, prices range from $1,000 to $15,000. Be sure to get several quotes and factor in the cost of ongoing maintenance.

How much does the average person spend on landscaping?

On average, homeowners spend about 10% of their home’s value on landscaping. That said, this varies widely depending on personal preferences, the size of the yard, and the local climate.

How much does backyard landscaping cost in Arizona?

Backyard landscaping costs can vary greatly, but on average, you might expect to spend between $5,000 and $15,000 for a complete backyard remodel in Arizona. Budgeting for unexpected costs and future maintenance is always a good idea.

What is the most expensive part of landscaping?

The most expensive part of landscaping tends to be the hardscape elements, like patios, outdoor kitchens, and water features. These are labor-intensive and require more materials, hence the higher costs.

What is the markup for a landscaper?

Generally, landscapers mark up plants and materials by about 15-50%, but this can vary. This markup covers their time for sourcing, delivering, and installing these items.

How do you budget for landscaping?

Start by determining how much you can afford to spend and what you want to achieve. Get quotes from multiple professionals and compare their services and prices. Don’t forget to include ongoing costs like maintenance and watering in your budget.

How can I save money on my backyard landscaping and remodel it on a budget?

To save money, consider doing some tasks yourself, buying plants in the off-season when they’re cheaper, and repurposing or upcycling materials. Instead of a complete remodel, consider making incremental changes that add up over time.

What is the cheapest type of landscaping?

Native plants and xeriscaping, which involves creating a landscape that requires little water, are often the cheapest options, especially in Arizona’s dry climate. These choices also require less maintenance and are better suited to local conditions.

Is spending money on landscaping worth it?

Yes! Good landscaping can add significant value to your home, up to 15% in some cases. It also boosts your home’s curb appeal, making it more appealing to potential buyers.

How can I add value to my yard?

Adding a patio or deck, installing an outdoor kitchen, or creating an attractive garden are all ways to add value to your yard. Think about what features would make your outdoor space more enjoyable and usable.

How to start a landscaping business in Arizona?

Starting a landscaping business in Arizona requires careful planning. You’ll need to register your business, obtain necessary licenses and permits, purchase equipment, and market your services. Researching the local market and creating a solid business plan are key steps.

What are the green grass in Phoenix and the best grass for hot weather?

The most common type of grass in Phoenix is Bermuda grass. It’s a warm-season grass that stays green all year and can withstand hot weather.

What is the best year-round grass and grass to overseed within Arizona?

Bermuda grass is a great year-round option for Arizona, as it stays green all year and can handle the heat. During the cooler months, many people overseed their Bermuda grass with Ryegrass to maintain a green lawn.

What are the best grass alternatives in Arizona?

If you’re looking for alternatives to traditional grass, consider installing artificial turf or xeriscaping with native plants. Both require less water and maintenance than traditional grass.

What type of grass needs the least mowing?

Zoysia and St. Augustine grass varieties tend to grow slower than other grass types and, thus, require less mowing. However, they may not be as heat tolerant as Bermuda grass.

What is the toughest grass to plant?

Bermuda grass is considered one of the toughest grasses due to its ability to withstand high heat and dry conditions. It’s often used in areas with high foot traffic because of its durability.

How often should grass be watered in Arizona, and what is the best time to water your lawn?

In the Arizona heat, your lawn will likely need to be watered every 1-3 days. The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning before the day’s heat sets in. This allows the water to absorb into the soil and reach the grassroots without too much evaporation.

How long should my sprinklers run in Arizona, and how long does it take to run sprinklers in Phoenix?

On average, sprinklers should run for about 15-20 minutes at a time, but this will depend on your specific system and lawn’s needs. A local landscaping professional can provide specific advice tailored to your yard.

How do I keep my grass green in Arizona in summer and in extreme heat?

Watering consistently, fertilizing properly, and mowing at the correct height are all keys to maintaining a green lawn in Arizona’s summer heat. Choosing a heat-tolerant grass type, like Bermuda grass, can also help.

How much is grass in Arizona?

The grass cost in Arizona varies depending on the type of grass and whether it’s sod or seed. Bermuda grass sod, for example, generally costs between $0.30 to $0.75 per square foot.

How long does artificial turf last in Phoenix?

Artificial turf can last up to 10-15 years with proper care and maintenance. The lifespan can depend on factors like the quality of the turf, the amount of traffic it receives, and how well it’s maintained.

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