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Yellow desert flowers in bloom

25 January . 2019

Tips For Successful Desert Gardening

Many of the various home options in Estrella include spacious backyards, perfect for residents to get creative with their desert gardening. However, those with a green thumb may find that gardening in the desert can be quite a bit different than it is in other climates. Here a few tips to help you with your gardening this year.

Choose The Right Plants
To ensure a successful garden, choose plants that are appropriate. Take advantage of the hot, dry climate and opt for plants that thrive in the desert sun. For flowers, this includes California poppies, primroses, and salvias. If you prefer to grow vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and spinach are great choices. Also consider drought tolerant plants such as desert marigolds or a white plumbago plant, both are native to Arizona and require little water to maintain.

Water Strategically
The most common mistake when it comes to gardening in the desert is watering. Because of our hot climate, it is easy to give in to the temptation to overwater. Unfortunately, there is no standard amount of water each plant should get, so it’s crucial to keep an eye on them for when it’s time to hydrate. If you see a plant wilting during the day, don’t reach for the watering can right away. Slight wilting during the day is common, but if it continues throughout the night, it’s time for water.

When watering your desert plants, be sure to implement deep watering about once a week. To deep water your plant, flood the soil slowly and allow the water to soak down into the roots. This will also help with deep root growth and prevent salt buildup. Be careful not to confuse this term with overwatering. Deep watering is adding a significant amount of water at one time, and only periodically, whereas overwatering means you are watering the plant too frequently.

Mulch Often
In our desert climate, mulching is a must when it comes to gardening. Spread leaves, straw or even hay in a three-inch layer over your gardening bed. This will help reduce evaporation, keep soil temperatures low, and allow for more daily plant growth. Mulching is also a great way to prevent water-runoff that may occur during monsoon season. Be sure to continuously replace your mulch throughout the season as it wears away.

Shade Your Plants
Many plants simply cannot take the intense sun rays in the hotter months of the year. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to allow your plant to get the necessary amount of sun it needs for survival, without letting it fry to a crisp. Shade cloths are the perfect tools to protect plants for certain months of the year, or even a few hours a day. They block most the sun, yet still have small holes that allow for some sunlight. Another option is to place taller plants around those that need to be shaded. Sunflowers are a great option for this method. Not only are they easy to plant, but they grow quickly and will add a charming touch to your garden.

These are just a few tips to try out the next time you’re gardening. If you’re looking for inspiration, visit the Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Phoenix. If gardening just isn’t for you, you can still enjoy the beauty of the desert flora and fauna by hitting the 40+ miles of hiking and biking trails in the Estrella community.


Estrella offers a variety of home options with spacious backyards, allowing residents to get creative with their desert gardening. Gardening in the desert is quite a bit different than gardening in other parts of the country, so it’s important to know the ins and outs on what makes for a successful garden in the Arizona climate. Here are a few tips and tricks to try out on your own desert garden this year.