Desert Garden Ideas

Although "hot, dry, and full of sand" may be the description that springs first to your mind, North America's desert climates actually have much more to offer -- including vibrant plant life. Rather than yards of water-guzzling grass, consider a natural garden filled with native plants like cacti and other desert-dwellers that know how to make the most of the local weather. Explore your options with the desert garden ideas and garden photos that follow.

Many of the plants featured in this desert garden may also be grown farther north. Yucca and the prickly pear opuntia are surprisingly hardy in winter. Lampranthus, seen here as a free-flowering ground cover, makes a colorful annual farther north. Wherever the location, these plants are drought-resistant and excellent for hot and dry areas.

Texture and shape are among the best ways to add interest to a desert garden. In this lively mix, agave, aloe, prickly pear, organic pipe cactus, and other native plants join red, paintbrush-like flowers against a house.

A contrast of textures and shapes is once again the theme in this desert garden that makes golden barrel cacti -- which almost seem to have individual personalities -- the star attraction. Agave, aloe, and rough, gray boulders round out the eclectic mix.

It's not just the desert where water can be at a premium, so for more ideas on plants that are a little less thirsty, continue to the next page for water-saving garden ideas.

Thinking you'd like to take nature to the next level in your garden? These photos and ideas will help plant the seeds of creativity: