Best Native Arizona Plants to Use in Your Lawn Landscaping
Non-native plants are a common sight in Arizona landscapes, but there's no need to bring in invasive plant species to spruce up your lawn. Many native Arizona plants are perfect for landscaping, from towering trees and showy shrubs to hardy grasses and perennials. Check out our top picks for some ideas and what to plant in your yard.
- Sweet acacia (Acacia farnesiana) - This small tree is a fast grower, quickly shooting up to its mature height of 15 to 20 feet. Sweet Acacia thrives in sites with full sun and dry soil, and is known for its fragrant yellow flower clusters, which appear during the winter months beginning in the plant's third year.
- Arizona Walnut (Juglans major) - The towering Arizona walnut grows to heights of 50 feet or more, making it an ideal shade tree for back yards. This deciduous tree doesn't thrive in very dry soil, faring best in average to wet soil throughout Arizona's less arid regions.
- Western white clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia) - A fairly large shrub capable of reaching 15 feet (though easily pruned to a smaller size), western white clematis is adaptable to a wide range o soil types and conditions, but prefers a site with average moisture and partial shade. Its showy white blossoms make it a popular addition to landscapes.
- Fairy Duster (Calliandra eriophylla) - This small evergreen shrub tops out at about 4 feet in height, making it a perfect landscape shrub if you don't have a lot of space to spare. It thrives in dry soil with lots of sunlight, and erupts in springtime with pink, fluffy, ball-shaped blossoms that often attract hummingbirds.
- Desert agave (Agave deserti) - A common sight in the desert regions of Arizona and California, desert agave reaches 12 to 24 inches in height, and is identifiable by its stiff, spiny, blue-grey leaves and by the yellow flower clusters that bloom atop its long central stalk. Desert agave does not tolerate wet soil, but thrives under dry, sunny conditions.
- Blackfoot daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) - About a foot tall and equally wide, Blackfoot daisy's most notable feature is its flowers, with their yellow centers and white petals typical of most daisy varieties. The flowers appear in abundance throughout spring, summer and fall, attracting bees, birds and butterflies. Dry soil is best, and Blackfoot daisy can tolerate full sun or partial shade.
- Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis) - Also known as mosquito grass, blue grama is commonly used for erosion control, and it also makes for a low-maintenance turf grass in sandy soils. Smaller patches can be used as accents along walkways and in perennial gardens. It grows best in dry soil with full sun to light shade.
- Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) - Though its most common use is as a forage for livestock, switchgrass makes a perfect ornamental grass in dry areas, growing up to 5 feet in height and sprouting large, tuft-like flowers at its tops. It withstands heat and drought easily, and will adapt to all but the wettest soils.
Native Arizona plants are available from countless nurseries and garden centers across the Grand Canyon State, and additional information is available through the Arizona State University website. In addition to adding color and texture to lawns, gardens and other landscapes, native Arizona plants also provide food and habitat for native birds and other wildlife, making them a win-win for all.
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Image Credit: Jason Hollinger