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How to Choose the Best Trees for Desert Landscapes


In a desert climate, we grow accustomed to seeing xeriscaping and water-wise plants in front yards, parks, and common areas. And of course, saving water in our community is extremely important. However, living in a desert doesn’t have to mean your landscape can’t include greens and shade. In fact, there are dozens of beautiful trees that flourish here in our dry, desert climate while they beautify and add shade to your yard.

Choosing the Best Trees for Desert Landscapes

There are some basic things to consider when choosing which trees to plant or request from your landscaper. Of course, the first thing to do is find trees that do well in our dry climate, needing little water once established. Here are just a few that might be worth a look.

  1. Sisso
    Sisso trees look much like aspens, and do very well in hot weather. These large tree also grow quickly, so they’re a great choice if you are looking to add shade ASAP.
  2. Chilean Mesquite
    This is a hybrid mesquite tree known for durability and wide-spreading branches. The Chilean Mesquite is also a fast grower, adding great shade with its substantial size.
  3. Vitex
    If flowering trees are your thing, you can’t beat the Vitex. While these are small to medium-sized, they boast big color with their purple blossom-tipped branches.
  4. Willow Acacia
    The Willow Acacia is a taller tree that doesn’t have quite the spread of a Vitex or Sisso. However, it’s “weeping” silver-blue foliage make it a beautiful addition to any desert landscape.
  5. Palo Brea
    If you’re looking for something unique, the Palo Brea is a lovely medium-sized tree with a twisty green trunk and lighter-green foliage.
  6. Acacia Saligna
    With their umbrella shape and smaller size, this is a great tree for a feature garden. It provides year-round filtered shade and grows very fast. It stands up to hot and cold weather like a champ.
  7. Texas Mountain Laurel
    These gorgeous trees, while not grown for shade, are likely to make people stop and look at their stunning purple blooms in early spring. They are best used as an accent tree, and boy do they accent your landscape!
  8. Chitalpa
    If you’re looking for a small to medium-size tree that’s super water-wise, the Chitalpa is a great choice. It features showy pink blooms from summer to fall.

A you can see, there are plenty of water-wise and desert-friendly trees to choose from — and this is just a small fraction of what’s available. There are so many choices, in fact, that you might want to get a little help making the right decision.

Other Considerations

When designing your desert-friendly landscape, you also need to consider other factors that will ensure your trees give you the look and functionality you’re after. These factors might include the tree’s height, spread, and growth rate. Much will depend on where you would like to plant the tree. Do you want it for shade? Just for looks? Will it be part of a larger, planned garden area? You’ll also need to find out whether the tree is deciduous or coniferous (whether it will lose its leaves for winter or stay green), and check to make sure it fits your hardiness zone.

There is a lot to think about when planning your desert landscape. When it comes to trees, many are quite well known, while others are more unique. To learn more about desert landscaping and find the right trees for your project, consult a local landscaping expert. They can help you decide which plants, flowers, and trees will best meet your needs.

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