Beginning with a spacious courtyard theme featuring covered patios, arbors, and spreading shade trees, these arid, informal gardens reflect the ranch house or hacienda theme once so prevalent in the Southwest. Succulents and light-leaved deciduous trees surround a spreading, one-story home on a spacious piece of land. Patios and porches of sand-colored stone lead to exposed aggregate and decomposed granite walkways that take you and your guests to an informally shaped swimming pool and spa accented with natural boulders. An artificial rock pool that matches the surrounding native boulders is always spectacular. The patio contains rustic wood furniture and tables adorned with colorful décor. Perhaps one word describes these sustainable landscapes—simplicity.
Southwest Ranch Elements: The courtyard patio features colorful furniture and patio accessories with desert hues. Perhaps some Native American décor accentuates the overall theme. A shade structure is a welcome relief from the sun. Walls of stucco plaster, natural stone, and rustic wood and iron gates complement the terracotta tiles and clay pots, and a hacienda-style water fountain makes the courtyard an inviting retreat for you and your guests. Arbors and pergolas provide relief from the shade and support Wisteria, Bougainvillea, and edible Grapes. Outdoor lighting accentuates the plaster walls and structural trees. Evening entertainment centers around an outdoor kitchen built into the courtyard wall. In the cool evenings, a natural stone fire pit makes a great place to gather and socialize.
Southwest Ranch Plants: A mature California Pepper or California Live Oak provides shade for the patio courtyard. Sycamores line the perimeter as natives and Mediterranean shrubs bloom throughout the year. Bougainvillea vines cascade over plaster walls, while potted Agave, Aloe, Echeveria, Cacti and other succulents add texture and color with their dramatic leaves. Gray-leaved and textural shrubs line a dry creek bed with native rock gives your yard a natural, riparian area look. Potted citrus and flowering vines soften the walls and structures. As in all the garden styles, lawn should be kept to recreational areas. Make the lawn, a warm-season lawn or synthetic turfgrass, look like a native meadow, surrounded by ornamental grasses and sword foliage. Drought-tolerant plants allow the use of water systems that use in-line emitters, commonly referred to as drip irrigation. A succulent rock garden works well wherever a slope or terraced area occurs.