Homes in the older part of metropolitan Phoenix employed traditional models for front and back yards and the canal system provided cheap irrigation for lawns. But the difficulty and expense of maintaining attractive lawns in a desert, coupled with concerns about water use and a growing appreciation for indigenous plants and native landscapes, have driven the demand for rock and gravel.


Granite Gravel and Rock Complement Desert Plants and Homes

Aesthetically, rock and gravel provide a pleasing field for the display of cactus and desert trees. They also give a yard a finished and clean look and provide depth and elevation. While in the past, choice of color was more limited, today DecorativeRock rock and gravel companies offer a large selection of different sizes and shades to complement the different styles of homes, from Spanish Hacienda to Adobe to modern Southwest desert styles.

Granite Gravel and Rock Complement Desert Plants and Homes
Granite Gravel and Rock Complement Desert Plants and Homes

The term gravel can be deceptive. The best decorative gravel is actually decomposed granite which is offered in a range of sizes. For those desiring a natural look, the smallest sizes suggest the sandy floor of the desert, while the chunkier gravel provides texture to sparser yards. Similarly, a color such as Madison gold will blend in with the surrounding desert, while some homeowners opt for reddish colors to offset design elements such as tile roofs.


Larger Rocks and Boulders are Used for Dramatic Effect

For variety of form, larger rocks can be used as borders and river runs. So-called river rock with its smooth, rounded shapes, and flatter pieces of fractured granite serve to add interest as well as to create natural barriers. Heavier granite rocks provide anchor points while large boulders make a dramatic statement and can even be situated to create the look of small canyons.

Larger Rocks and Boulders are Used for Dramatic Effect
Larger Rocks and Boulders are Used for Dramatic Effect

Getting Creative with Rock

For those artistically inclined, all kinds of rocks can be used to create pleasing designs, especially suitable to back yards. Rocks gathered on hiking expeditions can be used to create borders along patios and plant beds, to lay out striking designs reminiscent of cosmic patterns and spiritual symbols, or to depict whatever captures the imagination. Inventive types may also want to experiment with chunks of colored glass or petrified wood.

Getting Creative with Rock
Getting Creative with Rock

It is in this respect that working with rock and gravel can provide the same aesthetic pleasure and even spiritual satisfaction that the Japanese have gained for centuries working with sand gardens. Where the Japanese use sand and rocks to symbolize the sea, islands, rivers, and mountains, gravel and rock can be used in Southwest landscaping not only to complement cactus and other plants but to reflect and imitate the natural beauty of the desert environment.


Here are some ideas for your garden!