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23 Arizona backyard ideas on a budget: Get inspiration for your desert-themed backyard

Do you live in an arid area, making it impossible to a grow lush, green lawn? Well, lucky you, because backyard beauty standards are changing!

Redecorating to include a desert-themed backyard will still get you the kick-ass results you’ve always dreamed of. It only requires a little creativity and some materials and plants that suit your environment. And you definitely won’t have to dig yourself into a financial hole to make it happen!

Here are 23 Arizona backyard ideas on a budget. Check them out to get the help that would lead you through your remodel.

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Rocks & Stones For Your Arizona-inspired backyard

This idea is pretty low-maintenance and can cost almost no money since rocks and stones are natural and readily found everywhere in different sizes, shapes, and colors.

Collect some rocks and arrange them in a way that transforms your otherwise dull backyard into a relaxing, breathtaking private oasis or a desert-themed backyard.

rock garden along the side of a pathway
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a pathway rocks  surrounded by a garden of succulent
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A tree surrounded by a spiral of rocks, plants and dirt in
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White rocks on the pathway of the house front door
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rocks artistically arranged into flowers
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Artificial Turf To Save Water In A Desert Backyard

Even if you live in a climate region that allows for a natural lawn, maintaining it comes with a price and includes constant maintenance, like mowing, weeding, filling in bald spots, and fertilizing.

To save time and money, consider artificial turf, which is a surface made of synthetic fibers that resemble real grass. Artificial turf saves water, is more environmentally friendly, and much easier to maintain. Just remove the debris, rinse the turf regularly, and brush the grass against the grain from time to time.

According to, artificial turf can have a big upfront cost ($5-20) per square foot including installation. However, once installed, it should be good and cost-free for the following 15 to 25 years.

tree ground covered with pebbles and use rocks to separate it with the grass ground
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front yard landscaping, filling your garden ground with rocks and use bricks to separate it from the grass ground
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creating an oasis garden through your front door
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landscape with a golf course backyard design
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Cacti Decor For A desert themed backyard

There are many reasons to have a cactus garden.

First of all, cacti blend are the perfect fit for your desert-themed backyard. Secondly, cacti are hardy and can live a long time, so they don’t need frequent replanting, making for an affordable, sustainable backyard addition.

Perhaps most importantly, cacti are easy to care for, conserve water, and require much less maintenance than almost all other types of plants.

All you have to do is follow these three steps:

  1. Do not overwater your cacti garden: Make sure that their pots and soil are well-draining. This can be achieved by adding a layer of pebbles to the bottom of the pot.
  2. Water according to the season: During the summer, you can water your cacti whenever the soil surface feels dry. However, during the winter, especially when it’s cold, cacti should not be watered at all. You can start watering when the plant starts budding again, as spring begins.
  3. Choose the type of soil wisely: Go for soil that allows water to quickly drain away from the plant, like sand mulch.

Some of the cacti species are quite hardy so you can plant them even if you live in cold hardiness zones such as zone 7. For more hardy tropical plants, check out our post with tropical plants for zone 7.

This is one of my most favorite small desert backyard ideas.

However, be careful if you live in the area where cacti are native: once you plant a cactus, it’s very hard to kill it!

cacti garden around the gate wall
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tall cacti on both side of a pathway
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backyard cacti garden center piece
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Garden tree surrounded with well arranged cacti
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Contemporary Desert Landscaping planted with Various Kind of Cactus Plants on the Front Yard with Contemporary Wall Fence
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A Place to Relax In a Desert

It’s important to dedicate a spot for you and your loved ones to relax and enjoy the beautiful haven you’ve created. There are many options for seating, style, and layout of your patio, from a gazebo or a pergola (you can also install a shade on top of your pergola) to just a few chairs or a bench.

Your choice will depend on the available space and the budget you’re working with.

According to, on average, building a gazebo costs over $6,000 and pergolas over $3,600. However, costs vary according to the materials used, type, size, and whether you decide to go the DIY route or hire a professional.

To create an oasis feeling, you can plant a few palm trees. Even if you live in cold zones, you can still do that because  many palm species are actually quite hardy.

Agave and cactus splendor in the garden
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garden grounds filled with pebbles and accented with different sizes of rocks
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a relaxing garden with a pergola and  a pond
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cacti garden on an outdoor living space
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A Swimming Pool Is A Must For an Arizona Backyard

Having a small swimming pool in your backyard is a great idea for hot, dry, and sunny days. Or even enjoy a dip during winter with a solar heated pool. Which one to build will depend on the size of your backyard and your budget.

Compared to a vinyl-lined inground pool, which usually costs between $20,000 and $30,000 for a basic, medium-sized one without a patio, the cheapest and easiest option is a small, above-ground pool. On average, depending on quality, their cost ranges from $1,500 to $4,500 and their installation costs vary from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on their size and type.

According to, an even cheaper alternative is a ‘set and fill’ pool, which can last between one to three summers before it needs to be replaced. Their price varies from $100 – $800.

melenia pool as a center piece of your backyard garden
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melania pool and its outside wall is decorated with white pebbles, rocks and plants
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lighting into the palms around the pool
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Arizona backyard ideas on a budget: Did you like Our Image Collection?

Did our Arizona backyard landscaping ideas on a budget help you decide what you would like your desert-themed backyard to look like after renovation?

Personally, being a resident of North Carolina myself, these simple tricks (along with dry river bed landscaping ideas and these cool landscaping ideas with mulch and rocks) helped transform my drought-prone backyard into a beautiful, private oasis.  You can also plant some pretty drought-resistant bell-shaped flowers to liven up your landscape.

We hope we’ve been able to keep you entertained and inspired. Let us know what you think in the comments section! And, if you’ve liked the content, feel free to share the article.

2 thoughts on “23 Arizona backyard ideas on a budget: Get inspiration for your desert-themed backyard”

  1. Your photos are not even in Az … the photo from Pinick is in Austin Texas .. the mans who backyard that is is a popular cactus blogger .. I’m reporting your plagiarism.

    • Hey there, thanks for your comment! I found them on Pinterest and I did not realize that Pinterest can give misleading results 🙁
      As for the Pinick photo, I can remove it! In the past, I used to ask bloggers if I can publish their photos. Nobody objected as long as there is an image credit provided and only one photo per post is used.
      But again, I can remove it.
      Thanks and have a great day!


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