Western Landscape Design Trends

Region: California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico (USA)
Arid American landscape

Landscape design trends can be fleeting and are very much dependent on personal tastes. However, the evolution of gardening habits in hot climates has led to a unique and recognizable landscaping style emerging from places like California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico.

Here are some landscape design trends that have evolved from these environments and that will only gain in popularity over time.

Native Planting

In arid climates where soil can be quite compacted, plants native to these regions are more suited to surviving on little rainfall. As water conservation is becoming a greater concern, this is an important factor when deciding what to plant in your garden.

A xeriscape, a garden or landscape designed to reduce the need for watering or irrigation, could be considered. Many might envisage a garden filled with cacti, but this is simply not the case. There are thousands of diverse species of flowering shrubs and wildflowers that come from the Western region. Researching what blooms best locally can lead to a thriving, more hassle-free garden.

Garden in New Mexico. Source: Fine Gardening

Reimagining the American Garden

Although long a staple of the stereotypical American garden, the truth is that a large green lawn is not a realistic option in arid areas. Certain climates and desert landscapes often encounter water shortages. An option is to instead have smaller, short-grass meadow-like areas filled with native grasses and wildflowers.

Desert landscape garden. Source: Sunset Magazine

The sharp edges of overly-manicured lawns and hedges are giving way to a more natural space. So there is no need for elaborately sculpted trees and overly full flower beds. Take advantage of natural elements such as boulders and rocks, untouched hedges, or an existing tree. A garden should have no obvious “beginning or end”.

Gardens also tend to be smaller now. Rather than having to spend years trimming back shrubs, take advantage of species of dwarf shrubs and low growing plants. The options are vast and they provide a great low-maintenance addition.

An Outdoor Living Space

A garden should be an additional “room” of the house. The ideal outdoor living space in hot climates should provide shelter from the heat during the day whilst being cosy on cool evenings. By adding lounging and seating spaces, areas to cook, eat, or entertain, the flow between your garden and home is more seamless.

When creating an outdoor living space, balance the design with functionality. A water feature can drown out the sound of neighbors. Installing an air circulator to your sheltered area, and a fireplace for chilly nights, will improve the quality of your outdoor time.


Being environmentally conscious is of growing concern to many nowadays. There are many ways you can create an eco-friendly and sustainable garden.

Energy efficient materials. Source: Beauty Harmony Life

Energy efficient materials can be used to create outdoor areas that shield from intense daytime sun and also retain warmth after dark. Any covered walkway or patio can be constructed from clay barrel roof tiles or natural cast earth. Lower wattage outdoor lighting is also more energy-efficient, creating a more relaxing outdoor space.

Locally sourced garden materials, as well as native and endemic plants, can not only make your garden blend more naturally with the surrounding landscape, it also greatly reduces carbon emissions.

Selecting native flowers or flowering plants will attract pollinators, such as birds and bees. Plants can be watered using “smart irrigation systems” to avoid wasting water, useful in areas that encounter water shortages.