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Growing your Desert Garden

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes BR564219000

I read a great article on landscaping this past week and it had me reflecting on "gardens" here in Tucson, AZ.

When I first moved to our desert environment back in 2000, I have to admit it took more than a few months to get used to seeing folks rake their rocks rather than break out a lawn mower. Over time, I learned the value of water conservation, heat-loving plants and something called Xeriscaping.

Xeriscaping is a landscaping approach that focuses on creating beautiful outdoor spaces while conserving water and reducing maintenance requirements. The term "xeriscape" originates from the Greek word "xeros," meaning dry, and "scape," referring to a view or scene. Xeriscaping is particularly popular in arid and drought-prone regions where water conservation is essential, like Tucson, AZ.

Within the xeriscape plan, a local uses drought-tolerant plants and combines it with water-saving irrigation, or...not!  Some of our native plants need little or no water, depending upon how often we get water.  River stone is used to create "rivers of rock" and gravel walkways break up the landscaping terrain which is often finished with colored gravel.

Another thing quite important in our area is planting "local, native plants".  Break out Google, Chatgpt, or your nearby landscaping nursery for advice here.  Watch your ground cover placement as well!  Realize that if you plant a few sprouts in a corner of your yard of aloe vera ...know that HALF your yard will be overcome in a manner of years!  One of our local builders used a ground cover in their landscaping design...and cover it did -- taking over whole front yard areas.  What I'm saying is, don't only choose native plantings...but keep your ground covers contained or in pots, and watch which trees you incorporate.

It's important not to overwater your trees.  Low and slow is best...so the roots learn to dig deep and cement themselves to the land.  Otherwise, your fast-growing Palo-verde  or Mesquite will be down in a future windstorm, unable to take the summer monsoon ferocity!

So many rules, so much enjoyment...just a reminder to research before planning your SW Desert Garden here in beautiful Tucson.  Consider me your reminder to visit the source, as I am not knowledgeable by any means.  Simply pointing the way to the experts down the way.


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If I can assist you in your home buying or selling in Marana, Tucson, Oro Valley, or Vail, please don't hesitate to call me!  Email at Cara@SWDeserthomes.com

Cara Marcelle Mancuso, Designated Broker, Golden Girls with SW Desert Homes     520-909-2988   

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Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

It is definitely a different style than the green expanses we see in areas that are warmer and more wet, but that is also pretty when done with the proper selections of rocks and desert plants.

May 10, 2024 06:25 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

I've found every locale has something lovely - the diversity of it all Ed Silva, 203-206-0754 !

May 15, 2024 01:44 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Pasadena And Southern California 818.516.4393

Hello Cara - as a native Californian I have learned to appreciate the variety of landscape options in our state.  I was introduced to xeriscape when I was young and while I can understand that its appeal may not be everyone's preference, I see it as an appropriate alternative.   There's much to enjoy wherever you look.  

May 10, 2024 06:30 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Hi Michael - coming from the Midwest, I tried to keep a patch of sod growing outside my first home here.  It was just impossible, so I too, have learned to adapt to the perfect garden beauty for the area in which I live.  California is especially gorgeous Michael Jacobs. I used to love my walks in my sister's neighborhood in Sausalito.  The gardens!!

May 15, 2024 01:48 PM
Michael Elliott
Fathom Realty - Burlington Township, NJ
Burlington, New Jersey Residential Sales

Cara Marcelle Mancuso -- I love this post.   I also love the phrase "rake their rocks",  it does sound strange, and I never considered such a climate change for myself, it must be a real learning experience.

May 10, 2024 06:34 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Hi Michael Elliott   When I return to Green Bay, WI every so often to visit family, the green seems so unreal, it's so vibrant!!  (not in winter)

May 15, 2024 01:49 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Cara,

Your post illustrates why it is so important where ever you move to research the natural habit of the area. You provided a reminder to research before planning your SW Desert Garden here in beautiful Tucson. Good advice.

May 10, 2024 08:56 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Always a pleasure to read your comments, Dorie Dillard Austin TX  Planting non-native flora is a big problem anywhere, especially when it's invasive!

May 15, 2024 01:50 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Loved your post, here in Los Angeles five or six years ago the government was giving money to homeowners to create rock gardens like your photo.... Ironically what I have seen is how amazing the weeds are, they push through cement and rocks... and I constantly see those homeowners weeding or using poison to kill the weeds, Endre

May 10, 2024 10:33 PM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso

Weeds, the bane of them Endre Barath, Jr.   Some are quite Lovely

May 15, 2024 01:54 PM