A lot goes into creating a landscape plan, and it helps to have some expert help. Landscape architects specialize in designing outdoor spaces. Today, we’re sharing a plan particularly suited to our climate by New Mexico landscape designer David Cristiani. You can follow this design right down to each individual plant or customize it to fit your own yard. We’ll be sharing two more landscape plans in future issues of 505Outside.

Many plants from higher elevations or moister areas struggle when subjected to the long, torrid summers common in Albuquerque. The plants in this landscape are intended to thrive on heat, limited irrigation and minimal care — while exploding the popular myth that cacti and succulents look stark and don’t belong near our homes.

The Hotscape design embraces the environmental and visual qualities of Albuquerque’s high Southwestern desert location. Two areas of compacted crusher fines serve as a combined pathway, informal sitting area and a channel to harvest water from the occasional storm. A low berm provides visual interest, keeping the plants that cannot tolerate much extra moisture dry.

Modeled after the strikingly attractive and often evergreen plant communities native to the edges of Albuquerque, this design provides a great deal of visual interest throughout the year. The open, irregular canopies of Chinese pistache and screwbean mesquite provide filtered shade in summer and warming sunshine in the winter — an effect suggesting a desert arroyo. Fourwing saltbush screens the view to the street, and the dark, compact turpentine bush adds a pleasant fragrance with yellow fall flowers. The last, crucial ingredient to this design is the generous use of native desert accent plants, including the bold, blue-green forms of sotol, desert prickly pear and banana yucca. These local signature plants are accented further with small masses of seasonal color from low perennials and groundcovers, attracting both hummingbirds and passing neighbors!

Learn more about specific types of gardening here:

Simple Steps to Get Started Designing Your Yard

Xeriscape Landscape Type

Easy Pollinator Gardening

Easy Edible Plants for First Time Growers

Water Harvesting for Residential Landscapes

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