Modern Landscaping Ideas for Your Desert Oasis

You’re likely familiar with the modern interior decorating style, but did you know that it can be applied to your landscape as well? Modern landscaping ideas follow the same tenets as exterior and interior design. There’s a focus on clean and uncluttered scenes, strong lines that draw the eye along, and decorations that have purpose instead of just visual appeal. Modern landscapes are stripped down, but this makes each element that much stronger and more important. Start by focusing on the natural features and challenges of your desert landscape to create a beautiful yard with less effort.

Work the Hardscaping Angle

Laying out large swaths of decorative concrete and dotting the landscaping with eye-catching boulders quickly turns a bare spot of sand or dirt into a modern-looking outdoor room. Hardscaping is a little more expensive upfront, but there’s much less maintenance over the years. Don’t pave everything — break up hard surfaces with textures from clumps of drought-resistant grasses, spiky and rounded succulents, and clusters of cacti.

Go Eco-Conscious

Wasting water to maintain a lawn in the desert is an old-fashioned idea that doesn’t fit the modern landscaping ethos. Aside from skipping thirsty turf grass, try ideas like:

  • Solar-powered landscape lighting
  • Collecting rain water for irrigating the plants that need some extra moisture
  • Switching to organic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides
  • Incorporating useful plants into the landscape like herbs, edible flowers, and prickly pears
  • Using sodium-free, non-phosphate products when cleaning the hardscapes and your home’s exterior so that run-off doesn’t damage your yard.

Find Impactful Native Plants

Native plants are much better suited to the particular part of the desert you call home. This results in reduced water requirements, resistance to pests, and quicker growth with less attention. There are dozens of options that bloom, so don’t assume that your arid environment eliminates your chances of adding color. Aside from flowers, consider the architectural look of the plants available to you. For example, the tall spikes of yucca draw the eye upwards and add height to an otherwise flat design. Each plant in a modern landscape needs to contribute to the sense of movement through the scene.
Instead of the usual flower beds and tree rings, you need to create small vignettes that can be appreciated independently. Don’t add a single plant of each type either — build collections that bunch together. Spread these vignettes across the yard with small spaces and paths between them to encourage the eye to wander. Mix fluffy native grasses with minimalist succulents and cacti to create dynamic arrangements that stand on their own. When you connect a dozen or so artistic arrangements with proper hardscaping, the result is a landscape that looks like it belongs in a modern art museum.

Try Industrial Elements

Finally, spice up the landscape with just a few big additions. The industrial style of a steel or aluminum pergola looks ten times more modern than practically anything crafted from wood. However, you can use any materials you like if you focus on straight lines, dramatic angles, and light or bright colors. Aged industrial elements also have a huge impact in the modern desert landscape. A few lightly rusted beams or a well-worn and oversized chain from a crane acting as a pathway edge adds drama on a budget. Don’t forget to make the additions functional as well when possible. A pergola that actually works as a sun shade is smarter than one simply added for a boost of style.