Create a Sustainable Desert Garden

While California is not currently experiencing a drought, it’s still smart to be responsible about water usage, especially when it comes to landscaping. A sustainable desert garden considers the local climate and requires minimal resources such as water, pesticides, and fertilizer. Besides being environmentally responsible, a sustainable garden includes plants that will live a long time and not require too much maintenance.

Here are some tips for creating a sustainable garden in your yard: 

  • Use Native Plants – No matter if you are choosing desert landscape for your front yard or back yard, use plants that grow well in the region. Make sure they don’t require a lot of water, and let them grow naturally. 
  • Reuse Items – Pat of sustainability means recycling and reusing items when you can. If possible, use some of your household items in your garden rather than buying all new things. Simple desert landscape ideas included adding a freshly-painted yet rustic old bench or chair. This will create a nice new spot to relax and enjoy your garden!
  • Avoid Chemicals and Go Organic – Chemicals infect the soil and create long-lasting damage. Don’t use pesticides and non-organic fertilizers so you can avoid polluting your yard. 
  • Collect Water – Don’t let any water go to waste! Collect water wherever you can to use in your garden. Put out buckets or rain barrels to catch rain. Another option is to install a greywater system, which redirects water from washing purposes, such as laundry, and diverts it to irrigate the garden. 
  • Compost Scraps – When you chop fruit and vegetables, keep the scraps and compost them to use as fertilizer in your garden. Here is an article about how to get started

Questions to Ask When Choosing Plants

  1. How big will it get? This is important because it’s easy to forget that some desert shrubs may look petite in their pot, but could grow to be 8 feet and invade the space of other plants. 
  2. How much water does it need? Sustainable gardens require drought-tolerant plants. 
  3. Is it prone to pests? If so, are their natural remedies? If the only solution is pesticides, you’ll want to avoid pest-prone plants!
  4. What amount of sun does it need, full, partial shade, or full shade? This question is important for the placement of plants, as you’ll want to be sure they get the amount of light they require to flourish!

Good Plants for a Sustainable Desert Garden: 

  • Aloe Vera – this succulent is an evergreen perennial, and its flesh is helpful in soothing burns
  • Bougainvillea – this thorny ornamental vine blooms purple flowers, and looks great when wound around a trellis or fence
  • Lavender – the sweet-smelling purple flower is often used to aid in sleep and relaxation 
  • Agave – there are over 100 types of this low-maintenance plant. Agave has been used in many things including sweeteners, firewood, and rope! 
  • Silver Leaf  – this pretty evergreen shrub blooms purple flowers in the summer, and is often used as hedging
  • Succulents – there is a seemingly endless variety of succulents that grow well in San Diego, so you will have no trouble choosing something that works with your artistic vision. If you need inspiration, here are 13 succulents native to San Diego.
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