Smart Landscaping for Southern Arizona: Part One

Though there are times of great rainfall in Tucson (hello, monsoon season!), for the most part, Tucson is a very dry and very hot climate. It can seem like it is impossible to get anything green to grow here in Southern Arizona except for brush and cacti, but the truth is that there are plenty of great ways to add some lively greenery to your new home construction land that will make you excited to get outdoors.
It may seem like landscaping concerns are not something that you need to consider until after your home construction is complete and you’ve moved in. If you plan your back, front, and side yards alongside your home plans, you can create some fantastic outdoor spaces that are not only attractive, but serve to make your house more energy-efficient and maybe even more “fruitful” as well.
There are a lot of great desert-friendly plants that you can add to your garden that will not only thrive in your Tucson yard, but are also drought resistant, requiring less water than typical plants.
Texas Ranger
You have likely seen these beautiful purple-flowered plants throughout Southern Arizona, and that is because they complement our desert-colored homes so perfectly. Adding a vibrant pop of bright purple to any home, the Texas Ranger (also called Texas sage or Leucophyllum spp.) is a great low-maintenance option for front yards. From small, trimmed bushes along your walkway to towering 8-foot tall beauties that can shade your home and add some privacy to your windows.
Texas Ranger bloom cycles come and go with the warm weather, and the blooms are always stunning. As a member of the snapdragon family, with colorful flowers clustering together in large numbers creating cascading floral arrangements. The Texas Ranger is typically an evergreen, especially here in Tucson, and they will do well in well-draining soil and in full sun.
Texas Mountain Laurel
Texas sure makes some gorgeous purple flowers! The Texas Mountain Laurel tree is a sight to behold, and its purple flower bunches, which hang like colorful lanterns, smell remarkably like grape-flavored drinks. Noted for their long-lasting blooms and delicious aroma, this tree is a sturdy evergreen that will keep your backyards leaf-free. Many homeowners choose to incorporate Texas Mountain Laurels along their backyard walls for privacy, as these trees grow tall and fairly narrow. These trees require little maintenance, and are ideal for desert planting.
Bee-brush shrubs, sometimes called whitebrush, are wonderfully fragrant shrubs which grow upwards of 10-foot stems and branches. With small white flowers growing up and down the branches, these sweet-smelling flowers can last all the way from March to November in the Tucson climate, making it a great choice for year-round front yard decorative landscaping.
Though the shrub can grow long, they tend to be pruned down to only a few feet in diameter to maintain maximum flower power. These flowers not only provide a burst of beauty to your outdoor spaces, but they are bigtime bee attracters (as the name suggests), and that makes them fall into the category of “honey” plants. If you want to help keep your other plants and flowers pollinated, plant some bee-brush and watch your garden take off.
Texas Ebony 
Ready to soak up all this summer sun with little water and lots of character, the Texas Ebony is a favorite tree here in Southern Arizona. As a great shade tree, the Texas Ebony is big, beautiful, and drought-tolerant. Another evergreen, this tree keeps its leaves and remains beautiful all year long. Growing as tall as 80 feet and as wide as 30 feet at full size (though most grow 35 feet tall and 20 feet wide), this is a great tree to plant in an expansive yard to provide you outdoor space and home with much needed shade.
Tucson attracts a lot of visitors who become residents, but one of our favorite has to be the hummingbirds! Hummingbirds love to visit homes with lots of flowers full of nectar, and you can’t get a more hummingbird-friendly garden plant than agastache, otherwise known as hummingbird mint. Hummingbird mint’s reddish-pink flowers grow in tall tubular shapes, and are a great choice for border planting, rock gardens, and surrounding grow beds. Agastache is a good-looking flowering plant that will fill your yards with bees and birds without requiring a lot of maintenance on your part.

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