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Paradise Valley Landscape Showcases a Tropical Touch

A Paradise Valley landscape perfectly intertwines native plantings with vibrant greenery and swaying palms.

By Lauren Tyda | Photography by Michael Woodall

In Paradise Valley, a recently revitalized landscape paints a vivid picture of nature’s harmony, where the stark beauty of the desert dances in unison with the lush opulence of tropical allure.

“The property originally had a random arrangement of basic plants that were scattered across a flat gravel plane,” recalls landscape designer Chad Norris. “The home was beautifully architected with details that were meant to emphasize the outside, but the landscape fell short. It did not match the design or community. There were no designated focal points to create a sense of arrival or destination.” 

Familiar with Norris’ previous work, the owners sought the Phoenix Home and Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner to bring their landscape to life. “The couple wanted an outdoor retreat they could enjoy privately or showcase while entertaining,” Norris says. 

With this in mind, the designer identified the setting’s central focal points, both indoors and out. “Walking in, your eye is naturally drawn to the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that lead out to the poolscape,” he says. “Other windows in the home are placed like picture frames around the views. We knew we needed to create a sense of continuity and flow and frame these vignettes using the landscape design.”

The front of the home presented its own unique challenges. Located on a corner lot that juxtaposes intersecting roads, the residence required Norris to create curb appeal from dual angles. 

“It’s almost akin to a paintbrush on canvas,” the designer says. “You’re drawing the viewer’s eye from their first sight of the property to the driveway, entry and then to the home, layering secondary features to fill the spaces in between. Integrating focal points to select locations and infusing cohesive items into the transitional spaces helps the scene flow from one side to the other.”

The property also presented an opportunity for Norris to create a low-maintenance, water-efficient landscape without compromising on high-end appeal. “Paradise Valley is transitioning greatly,” he remarks. “Water usage and costs are driving homeowners to a more low-maintenance aesthetic, yet luxury and impact are still top priorities.” 

To achieve this balance, Norris incorporated sustainable, desert-adaptive plants, cacti and succulents as the base palette for the existing yards, poolscape and ramada. 

“Ninety percent of the plant material used is from private stock and not from local nurseries,” Norris notes. “This ensures the best quality, not materials that other landscapers in the Valley have picked through.” 

He also introduced elements such as palms and hedges to synchronize with the community and create a touch of lushness. 
“Paradise Valley is different from a typical north Scottsdale golf community,” he shares. “I needed to bring some tropical elements into the desert-style landscape design to make it blend.”
Responding to the owners’ desire for open space and turf for their pups, Norris created a dog park on one side of the backyard. “We surrounded it with elevation changes and undulations as well as boulder and planting vignettes to lead the eye to primary locations,” he says. 

A small bench nestled among the landscape offers a peaceful retreat away from the house. 
Once homogenous and uninspired, the outdoor respite is now teeming with structure, texture and year-round color. 
“The combination of generally separate landscape styles creates a unique and harmonious composition,” Norris concludes. “I love the way we seamlessly blended the palms, turf and cactus elements in a way that doesn’t look obscure. Now it can be enjoyed from inside and out.”

A sour orange hedge and palette of palm trees and cacti make a verdant backdrop for the sparkling poolscape.
A hybrid water and fire feature serves as a focal point for the pool and lush surrounds.
The homeowner relaxes near the firepit, surrounded by desert-adaptive plantings, including palo verde, Moroccan mound, golden barrel, yucca and specimen cacti.
The pool, spa and outdoor kitchen ramada—all original to the home—served as anchors for the design. Landscape designer Chad Norris incorporated totem pole cactus, pineapple palm and autumn sage for color and texture.

Medjool date palms and a palo verde shade the entry courtyard, where Norris added various cacti and succulents for sculptural appeal and bougainvillea for a splash of color. 

Orange bells, autumn sage and penstemon contrast with the boulder outcroppings and groupings of cacti.
A palette of variegated agave, golden barrels, Moroccan mound, senita cactus, autumn sage and trailing lantana add elegant layers to the backyard vignette.

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