Triple digit heat is here and everyone with lush green grass is sweating bullets trying to maintain their lawn. In our last blog post, we talked about the pros and cons of artificial turf but there are other ways you can have a sustainable landscape without high maintenance. Xeriscaping is a type of popular landscape design using native plants and usually requiring less water. In addition to saving money and being practical, xeriscapes can also be beautiful and inspiring.

Get to know a Pro

A professional landscape designer will know which plants are suitable for your area and which ones will thrive in combination with each other. The best option is to find a design/build company that will help you bring your ideas to life on paper and in the ground.

A licensed landscape designer will be able to lay out your arrangements in the best way possible. Choosing less thirsty plants and arranging them wisely will save you time and money since you will need to water less frequently. A well-designed irrigation system will also soak the foliage without wasting water, giving your plants enough water to establish strong root systems.

Some people keep part of their property as a grass lawn and use native desert plants to create beautiful landscaped areas as well. Low-water-use plants come in all different shapes, sizes, colors and textures. A professional landscape designer will help you choose plants you like and that will also complement your home. Together, you can design an arrangement of plants that uses less water and looks stunning.

Choose Drought-Tolerant Native Plants

Gorgeous landscapes can be created using a mixture of trees, shrubs, flowering plants and ground cover. Cacti and succulents are great choices when it comes to drought-resistant plants, and some of them have beautiful and striking appearances. Agaves are flowering cacti that produce leaves in the shape of rosettes, and some of them have impressive bloom spikes, like the Foxtail Agave.

Your agave will do well in the partial shade of a taller plant like the Arizona Rosewood. This is a large shrub or small tree that grows to be ten feet high. It’s a dark green, leafy evergreen that fills out to about eight feet across. It produces white clusters of flowers in the spring and early summer, and the Arizona Rosewood can thrive in full sun. It’s great for creating an informal hedge and is very attractive to bees.

Justicia is an evergreen shrub that has long red blossoms that bloom for much of the year. It’s a desert plant that does well if you water it infrequently but deeply. The Chuparosa, a Justicia plant native to the Sonoran desert, can grow to six feet tall and wide. This provides shelter for wildlife and, as a matter of fact, hummingbirds are highly attracted to the flowers.

Consider Sustainable Landscaping

Other types of sustainable landscaping include artificial turf and hardscape. Artificial turf looks lush and green, requires no mowing and doesn’t need to be watered, just cleaned now and then. Although it’s expensive, using artificial turf means you don’t have to invest in sprinklers or a yard service. Artificial turf is made of plastic and it can get hot, so using it in shady areas is the best idea.

For an outdoor area that you don’t want to maintain and that you want to use for recreation, there are many selections when it comes to installing a hardscape. Just a few suggestions include installing pavers around a fire pit, creating a patio area and sculpting a few winding walking trails. An experienced landscape designer can help you determine the best place to put plantings, hardscape and artificial turf on your property.

Avoid Common Mistakes

  • Not taking into account how much space mature plants will need.
  • Choosing plants that will require a lot of maintenance.
  • Not planning irrigation around ground gradients and water flow.
  • Leaving out some of the costs of a project in your initial plan.
  • Not designating enough outside area for relaxation and recreation.

You will want to make sure to leave space for future projects. Are you planning to install a pool or an outdoor kitchen at some point? Now is the time to decide where your future project will be sited. It’s very difficult to move existing landscaping once it has taken hold.
When you consult with a landscape designer, all of these issues will be considered and you’ll be one step closer to making your landscape dreams come true.

Bill Jenkins

 Bill Jenkins  is a second-generation landscape contractor with a passion for providing quality products and service to the valley for over 30 years. He enjoys gardening and growing roses, his grandfather was a champion rose grower and shared his love of roses with him when he was young. His father set an example for him to use only the   best quality products and to give clients exceptional service.



Differences Between Landscape Contractors and Designers.

Beautiful landscape projects are often appreciated and adored.  Outdoor space filled with lush plants and lighted pathways have a magical allure.  But rarely do people understand the elements needed to align to make the magic happen.

Landscape design, construction and maintenance sometimes get lumped together in one category. But the lack of expertise in any one area can end up costing you not only time but also a significant amount of money.

So let’s start with the basics of who does what and what’s expected to complete a great landscape project.

Landscape Designers

Choosing a landscape designer is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a homeowner. Your landscape should be thought of as a long-term investment, not just throwing some plants in the ground and calling it a day.

Not only is a good designer full of ideas to transform your outdoor space, they are able to figure out grading plans, technical details for drainage and layout dimensions.  They will know which plants work best in your area.  They will understand the science of hydraulics for proper irrigation design and understand levels of light and use of the correct lamp color temperatures for good lighting design.

Landscape designers will also help with budget creation and construction planning. Understanding what things cost and having a budget in mind in the beginning is the first step to a successful project.

A reputable designer will also help you decide if you should build the project all at once or break it into phases.

Landscape Contractors

Landscape contractors are usually licensed professionals with a combination of formal education, work experience and/or apprenticeship of a certain length of time. They are the ones who actually install the landscape the designer has planned.

The contractor’s responsibility comes down to getting the job done on time with reliable service and quality.

Keep in mind, not all contractors are landscape designers. Things like poor plant choices, taking into account mature plant sizes, knowledge of plant water usage, proper irrigation design, site drainage and other design items if poorly thought out, can end up costing you more money down the road.  Proper knowledge and expertise in the design phase is crucial to the longevity of your landscape plan.

Choosing a landscape design-build firm can streamline the process.

When choosing a landscape design and build team, make sure to look for at least these three things:

Client references 

Reading online reviews are fine, but if you really want honest feedback, ask for references of someone who has had similar work completed. It may be a red flag if a contractor has a hard time providing references.

Licenses and insurance

Landscape contractors have licenses regulated by the state. Check to see if your contractor’s license is in good standing.  If not, it might be an indication of something more serious. Also, make sure your contractor has general liability insurance and worker’s compensation.

Photos showing quality of work and experience

Good photos will help you get an idea of completed projects and what to expect.  It’s even better if you can see a 3D rendering of what your project will look like when it’s finished.

You may also want to ask to see projects that are similar in scale. Knowledge and expertise of the correct staging and workflow can keep your project on time and within budget.  Most landscape designers would want you to share all your wants and wishes for your landscape to help the designer understand how you will want to use your landscape.  A good designer can help you sort out the landscape ideas that will fit into your budget and give you the most for your money.

While there are times when a full-blown design isn’t necessarily needed,  even a small project can require specialized knowledge and experience to get the details right.  Knowing the difference between contractors and designers will help you get the best results for your landscape needs.

Bill JenkinsBill Jenkins  is a second-generation landscape contractor with a passion for providing quality products and service to the valley for over 30 years.



Ready to relax and unwind after a long week? Don’t let hot summer days keep you hiding inside. Adding the right landscape lighting can transform your backyard into a mini retreat.

Here are three things to consider when choosing outdoor lighting.

1. Consider the effect you wish to create when placing light fixtures.

When considering what effect you wish to create, choose the lamp first, not the fixture. Higher voltages of light can leave a glare. Bright spotlights shining in your eyes isn’t inviting or relaxing.

Do you need something functional or are you looking for a little romance? You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Walkways are the entrance to an exotic place or an elegant, urban patio. You can create any look and feel with path lighting.

2. Create places to ‘walk by’ and to ‘talk by’.

Think of your yard as different rooms in your home.Strategically create focal points for places to ‘talk by’ and pathways to ‘walk by’. No backyard? A well lit spotlight turns a potted tree into a dramatic focal point.

*Tip* Think of outdoor traffic patterns when creating hardscape design plans. High traffic areas might not be the best place for an outside fire pit.

3. Use different layers of light for a dramatic effect.

Placing lighting high in trees creates a moonlighting effect that looks natural and draws the eye upward to some of Mother Nature’s natural beauty. A combination of down lighting and shadow lighting can create dramatic effects and turn even an ordinary wall or fence into a work of art.

Still stuck on how to transform your backyard living space into a backyard retreat? Listen to our segment with Rosie On The House where Bill shares tips on finding soft, artistic, natural lighting for your backyard oasis.

A good designer can blend the wish list with the budget and create a workable solution. Contact us for a no obligation consultation with one of our Design Specialists.