Awesome Inexpensive Desert Landscaping Ideas When On A Budget!

Have you ever thought about upgrading your yard but then took a look at your bank account and gave up? Well, now’s the time to get some inspiration and see if you can turn that hot arid landscape into one that people can enjoy. We will help you!

Inexpensive desert landscaping ideas

1. Landscape your yard with rock and stones

This is one of the cheap landscaping ideas that can cost almost no money as rocks and stones are natural and you can easily find them anywhere.

There are a variety of choices for size, shape and color that you can use to decorate around your plant life. Plus, they are low-maintenance since you don’t need to take care of them.

In addition, you can utilize crushed stone as mulch as they bring lots of benefits to your pocket.

2. Avoid a Lawn

If you want to turn your yard into a desert oasis, you are going to need a grass lawn. However, it can be quite expensive. A grass lawn requires water and upkeep to stay green and healthy. The cost of maintenance is high and a lot of water is required. So, a lawn can be quite troublesome.

Instead, try installing artificial turf or gravel. The initial cost for artificial turf can be higher but it lasts for about 20 years without much upkeep. Gravel is cheap and looks great with different patterns and, you can easily decorate it around your plants.

Stones and paving are better than grass for your front yard
Stones and paving are better than grass for your front yard // Image @ Xeriscape

3. Repurpose old things

This idea is really creative and environmentally friendly!

Old Tires

Used tires are difficult to get rid of, so what’s better than using them for another purpose? They will suit your desert landscape I’m sure!

If you don’t have one, try picking them up at local recycling centres for a few dollars or simply ask your neighbours. I’m sure they are happy to just give theirs away!

With tires, you can use these affordable ideas:

4. Install fiberglass planters

Though old tires are cheap in the short term, decorating with high-quality fiberglass planters is cheaper in the long term.

With a much longer life span due to the special coating applied to our planters, fiberglass stays pristine for years outdoors, even in hot desert landscapes. This is especially important if you are landscaping a commercial area with a lot of foot traffic and you want to make a good impression.

Plus, we manufacture quality fiberglass that can be molded into any shape, size, or style, so you get exactly the landscape aesthetics you dreamed of.

Related article: How to choose the best planter shape, size, and color.

5. Go vertical

This great idea is particularly good if your yard is not really spacious. It can make the entire space look like a masterpiece!

They can be inexpensive too if you can recycle materials to hang them in your garden!

Here are some ways to make your outdoor space vertical:

  • Repurpose a picture frame to create a vertical succulent garden
  • Wash out old paint cans, fill with soil and hang them up to grow succulent plants
  • Use a tall planter with tall plants or trees

6. Wood rounds

Using natural elements like wood and stone is a great way to incorporate more nature into your desert landscape.

These awesome large wood slices can be great stepping stones for your backyard. You can try adding lawn statues or even some gazing balls to make it even greater!

See how influencer Trent Palmer transformed his desert landscape

The best plants to use in a desert landscape

Take advantage of cacti and succulent plants

Another cheap and low-maintenance idea for your ‘desert’. Totally affordable, crushed stones and cactus succulent plants can really transform your outdoors to catch the eyes of even the most difficult critic! And, choosing plant life that requires little upkeep can make your wallet really happy.

Succulents look great with ribbed planters
Succulents look great with ribbed planters // Image @ Anthropologie


Cacti fit the bill very easily and are native to most desert landscapes. You can easily choose different sizes and types of cactus to add additional touches to the area. They don’t need much attention as they require very little water to upkeep.

Let’s take a look at some types of cactus that fit the bill:

1. Golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

Of the many types of cacti, this particular one works well in a rock garden thanks to its spherical form.

They are short, with a round shape of the golden barrel cactus making them a visually striking addition to any landscape design.

There are multiple shades of green with their needles colored in different shades of yellow, as the occasional bright yellow flowers bloom from their tops.

2. Spider cactus (Gymnocalycium horstii)

Gymnocalycium horstii is a distinctive large cactus, minimally spined with a green ball-shaped body. Usually solitary or slowly clustering as they age.

Their flowers are white, pale pink, pink or pale purplish and can grow up to 11 cm long and in diameter.

Very easy to grow, this plant offers no cultivation difficulties.

With this guy in your yard, you can really add a touch that makes a perfect desert landscape.


For both style and substance, drought-tolerant succulents are tops on today’s horticultural hit parade. Their striking appearance and incredible variety appeal to every aesthetic.

In harsh weather conditions, they thrive because of the thick leaves that are often waxy with the ability to close their pores rather than lose water through respiration.

Here are some famous and yet inexpensive plants you can grow:

1. Aloe vera

Aloe vera is famous for the gel inside the succulent leaves, which has soothed many a minor burn throughout history. And thanks to this gel, aloe vera requires very little water to grow. The leaves can reach from 24 to 39 inches long, making your area appeal to the eyes in a special way.

2. Yucca

With several varieties available, there are yuccas suitable for almost any climate, some being cold hardy well below freezing.

Their leaves are stiff and linear, ending in a spear-like spike. Yuccas are quite easy to grow, sometimes too easy, and may have a tendency to offset beyond the original solitary rosette. Species range from tall-stemmed trees topped by a cluster of spikey leaves to stemless varieties 1-2 feet tall and wide. 

Yucca plants are lovely decoration tools
Yucca plants are lovely decoration tools // Image @ Gardening Express

Tips for desert plant care


Over-watering is one of the common enemies of cacti and succulents. Invest in a moisture meter to gauge how dry or wet the soil is.

The funny thing about growing these types of plants is that in hot summer when the temperatures are over 90 degrees, you should reduce watering from 1-2 weeks (as you should when actively growing in spring) to 2-3 weeks. They can survive on the water they have stored. In late fall and winter, reduce watering to once a month.

Watering your landscape regularly is important
Watering your landscape regularly is important // Photo by Methi SOMÇAĞ on Unsplash

Plant succulents and cacti in the right soil

Succulents and cacti need soil that drains, so regular potting soil—or dirt from your yard—won’t do.

Choose cactus soil or mix potting soil with sand, pumice, or perlite. Their roots are very fragile so be gentle when repotting. They prefer soil that includes more sand and rocks, in order to drain water and keep the plant dry between drinks and prevent root rot.

Give your plants enough light.

But not too much though!

For Cacti

Although cacti need about 8 hours of sunlight every day, they do get sunburn. When they turn yellow or brown move them away from their light source to cool down. They will thrive outdoors and you will start to see them grow a lot quicker compared to being indoors.

For Succulents

Succulents love light and need about six hours of sun per day, depending on the variety. For newly planted succulents, they can scorch in direct sunlight. Therefore, you may need to gradually introduce them to full sun exposure or provide shade with a sheer curtain.

Protect them from pests

Although most problems associated with cacti and succulents are bacterial or fungal diseases caused by overwatering, they do get the occasional insect pest.

The most common pests are scale, mealybugs, and root mealybugs. Less common pests include spider mites and fungus gnats.

To get rid of eggs and larvae, it’s a good idea to spray the soil with 70 percent isopropyl alcohol.

To ensure that you do not introduce pests to your healthy plants, check new plants carefully and quarantine them until you are sure they are pest-free.

Tips for planter maintenance in hot dry weather

Avoid using black pots

Black pots are a great idea when your plant needs a little warmth boost–like seedlings do in early spring. They are landscaping ideas for a cool greenhouse in the winter. However, keeping plant life in these pots in the full sun on a hot summer’s day is not a good way to keep your plant life healthy.

Studies show that glossy white pots are better at reflecting light than any other color. Flat white is next best, then silver, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, and finally black is the hottest. Black pots can really turn into an oven during the summer months.

Use materials that are thermal insulators

Not only does the pot color affect the soil temperature, but pot material and its size does too.

Metal containers conduct heat readily. Terra cotta pots are heat neutral. Concrete is an insulator. Wood, plastic, fiberglass, pressed paper, and coir are also insulators. 

Black pots get hot
Black pots get hot // Photo by Marcin Kempa on Unsplash


Where can I apply these ideas?

Everywhere! You can decorate your back garden, park, zoo, street, office, any place! Whether it is residential or commercial.

If you like, you can try customizing your planters so that they really fit the theme of your landscape.

What pots should I choose for a hot summer?

For harsh weather conditions, we highly recommend fiberglass planters as they are also rust-proof, shatterproof and frost-resistant.

Furthermore, these extra durable planters won’t succumb to UV exposure. This lets you add style to your garden, patio, deck, sunroom, kitchen or terrace using colored planters without the need to worry about the color or finish fading. And the last reason is that they are totally affordable!

How do I keep my black plant pots cool?

We get that you might have bought some black pots and sometimes they go really well with your landscape design. Here is a solution to a hot plant pot problem:

In the spring and fall, black pots can be happy in the full sun, but in the heat of the summer, at around 2 pm, find a spot where your black pots can have some shade. If the pot is too heavy to lift, use a trolley to move them out of the sun.

Watering a pot or the garden can also help to cool it down, but bear in mind that if the roots have already been damaged by the time the water arrives, the plant may not be able to absorb moisture through its roots to survive.

Are white, clear & light-colored pots bad for plants?

White and light-colored pots, particularly glossy ones, reflect light and heat so it would be a good choice if you have plants that require less heat.

However, if you live in a cool and cloudy place and your plants love heat, these colors may not be a good choice. The plants will be too cold. Go darker.

Should I bring my succulents inside for the winter?

It’s important to know what growing zone you live in and what zone your plant is rated.

All succulents rated higher than Zone 5 can’t survive the cold, and need to be indoors for the winter. You should bring your plants inside before the first frost, and it’s usually at the end of September.

Succulents love lots of light in their life
Succulents love lots of light in their life // Photo by Ev on Unsplash

Can cacti survive in low light?

Cacti, just like any other plant, need sunlight to survive. Although these desert plants can survive for short periods without sunlight, they need to be exposed to lots of sunlight to thrive and blossom.

If not provided with sufficient sunlight, your cactus plants will become thin, sickly, and may eventually die.

Get Ready to Implement Your Desert Landscaping Ideas with Planters Etc

We hope you enjoyed our ideas on how to have an awesome desert landscape with marvelous plants and planters without having to pay much money!

We can also help you with your landscaping needs – our high-quality fiberglass planters are made of durable, tough, and delightful fiberglass material. Choose from a variety of 18 stunning colors and as many as four textures to suit your design goals.

All our planters come with an industry-leading warranty emphasizing the commitment and value of our fiberglass planters.

Feel free to give us a call and our sales consultants will be more than happy to walk you through any outstanding questions or requests you might have. However, if you’re ready to transform your California garden into a garden of Eden, then get shopping!

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