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Ask the Experts: What Would Your Dream Backyard Look Like?

We asked a few of our favorite outdoor aficionados: If money were no object, what would your dream backyard look like?

Kelly Murray Young, Plant Biologist,
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension

“It would be of ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’-like proportions and filled with edible treats, so there is something for humans and wildlife to graze on year-round. A variety of citrus, including oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit would offer sweetly scented blooms and yield fruit from fall into early summer. There would be lots of other fruit trees such as pomegranates, low-chill apples, pears, peaches, apricots, jujube and persimmons, as well as pecans, and velvet mesquite, which produces delicious, smoky pods. Finally, shrubby herbs would be tucked into every available space, various mints, lavender, rosemary, cannabis and bay would attract pollinators and release their aroma as you brush past.”

Bryan Harris, Lead Designer,
Dig It Gardens

“I envision one with true landscape artistry interwoven with clean, modern architectural features among indigenous plant material that creates color, shape and volume in itself. A relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces is crucial for any Arizona residence. Vegetation that provides shade, wildlife and a feeling of tranquility through natural elements in the built world is important for relaxation in the landscape and home. A garden space can be powerful when there is a mixture of design between yard and home, creating a diversity of uses and interpretations of space through soft plants and rigid building materials.”

Tina Wilson, Director of Horticulture,
Desert Botanical Garden

“My ideal backyard is big enough for me to be immersed in a variety of different scents, light and designs. The framework would be filled with plants that hit every shade of green, silver and white possible, while palo brea (Parkinsonia praecox), ironwood (Olneya tesota) and Chilean palo verde (Geoffroea decorticans) provide height and texture. The landscape would welcome you to walk, entertain, nap, daydream and putter all day with dogs running amok and have the biggest cut flower and vegetable gardens imaginable. And at night it would transform into a whole new place to enjoy and explore.”

Bennett McGregor, Landscape Designer,
Bennett McGregor Landscapes Inc.

“My dream garden would be a low- to no-maintenance space with a focal point of a desert-salvaged gnarled, mature ironwood tree for interest and shade. The space would be planted with colorful, aromatic, wildlife-friendly native desert plantings such as salvia, barometer bush, chuparosa, desert marigold, penstemon, and calliandra. The idea would be to create a shady and peaceful retreat that works on its own with minimal care.”

Susan Myers,
Master Gardener

“I visualize an organic, lush-looking landscape of desert-adapted plants, trees, cacti and succulents. Most people wouldn’t consider native plantings as lush, but with plenty of mature desert trees such as ironwood, mesquite and palo verde, you can create a good amount of shade and some brilliant spring/summer blooms. Pair those with ample blooming shrubs, perennials, interesting cacti and succulents and you can create resortlike beauty in your own yard. I would also include raised beds for vegetable gardening.”


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