Front Yard Desert Landscaping Ideas on a Budget

Have you ever considered upgrading your yard but don’t go through with it because of the hefty price tag? Well, lucky for you, there are budget-friendly ways to help you elevate your landscape and build the desert garden of your dreams.

In this article, you can find some of the best inexpensive desert landscaping ideas to bring life to your small front yard and create a home that will leave a beautiful lasting impression.

southwest front lawn with succuletns

Landscape Using Rock and Stones

Utilizing rocks and stones in your landscaping is one of the best ways to add character to your front yard for cheap. Since stones and rocks are naturally occurring, not only can you find them almost anywhere you look, but they also cost little to no money. 

When you visit your local store, you can find a variety of stones and rocks. Depending on your preferences, you can mix and match different textures and styles to make your front yard more dynamic. You can get landscaping stones as low as $120 for a 25-square-foot patio. 

What makes landscaping rocks and stones cheaper than other options is that they are low maintenance. They don’t require a lot of attention or care and last for a long period. 

While rocks and stones work well as a base layer for your landscaping, you can also use them for decorations. For instance, you can scatter large boulders around the space to add more depth. Alternatively, you can add water features to your stone structures to completely transform your space into a desert oasis. With these simple landscaping ideas, you’ll be surprised at what you can achieve.

Add Texture to Your Rock Garden With Beach Pebbles

If you’re set on using stones for your yard, a great way to take it one step further is to incorporate a wide variety of stones to add texture and make your outdoor space more aesthetically pleasing. 

One option to add to your rock garden is beach pebbles. Like other decorative rocks, beach pebbles don’t cost much money. One pound is only around one dollar. By adding these simple and cheap elements to your design, you can instantly add some charm to your yard.

Unlike regular stones that tend to have sharp edges and dull appearances, beach pebbles are smooth and shiny. They will effortlessly add elegance to your outdoor area.

desert garden

Repurpose Your Old Stuff

You might not realize it yet, but you may already have the majority of the items you need lying around the house to create your very own desert garden. All you need to do is to infuse a bit of imagination and creativity to repurpose these materials into something more practical. 

An example would be your old tires. You probably have old tires sitting somewhere in your garage. Rather than leaving them untouched or throwing them away, try to find ways to incorporate them into your desert landscape. 

With an old tire, you can make a man-made pond, using the tire as the base. Otherwise, you can hang it on a strong tree branch and create a makeshift swing for your kids. If these are not enough, you can even transform your old tire into a decorative plant holder. 

Aside from old tires, maybe you have an old wheelbarrow or a forgotten barrel lying around. In such cases, you can use these items as decorative holders for your desert plants. They’ll add more whimsy to your front yard and make it feel more organic and natural. 

By repurposing the stuff you already have around the house, you wouldn’t need to take money out of your bank account. Instead, you get to save on costs and ultimately reduce waste.

Skip the Lawn

Another cheap front yard desert landscaping idea is to skip the lawn. While conventional landscaping may encourage you to build a green lawn to create a lush look, it’s not the only way to have stunning landscaping. 

Especially in arid climates in desert regions, maintaining a green lawn is not only high maintenance but — more importantly — costly. You can try to look for cheaper alternatives, like installing artificial turf in small areas around your yard. This will create the same effect as a natural lawn would without all the fuss. 

Besides this, another great idea to mimic the evergreen ambiance of having a lawn is by planting tall trees and desert trees. These can withstand the desert climate and add a pop of color to your desert landscape design.

Top view of colorful miniature desert succulent plants on sale at a nursery garden shop.

Scatter Cacti and Succulent Plants To Add Visual Interest

Besides trees, a more manageable yard project is to use drought-resistant plants in your desert landscape plan. By adding cacti and succulent plants into the design, you can immediately add visual interest to your outdoor space. 

Below are some of the best drought-tolerant plants you can incorporate into your design. 

Golden Barrel Cactus

Thanks to its spherical form, the golden barrel cactus will work perfectly in your rock garden. Their round shape and short height complement large rock formations, making them a visually striking element to your beautiful home garden design.

What’s more, this type of cactus comes in many shades of green, and their needles come in various tones of yellow. They may sprout yellow flowers, which will add vibrancy to your whole garden. 

Spider Cactus

Similar to the golden barrel cactus, the spider cactus also has a spherical form. The main difference is that it doesn’t grow as many needles as the golden barrel variety, and it doesn’t usually sprout in clusters.

Spider Cacti can also bloom. The variety of colors can range from white and pale pink to pink and lavender. The blooms can be up to 11 centimeters, which makes them stand out even more. 

One of the advantages of incorporating a spider cactus into your beautiful front yard is that it doesn’t offer any difficulty in terms of cultivation. These types of plants are easy to grow and can instantly make a huge difference to the overall desert home’s curb appeal. 

Claret Cup Cactus

Also known as a hedgehog, the claret cup cactus has the potential to grow up to three feet high and six feet wide. What makes this desert plant such a special addition to your succulent garden is that it can bear fruit. The fruits should turn bright orange when they’re ready to harvest. 

If you live in a desert area, this plant is perfect for your home. They only need full sun exposure and volcanic or sandy soil beds. They don’t require a lot of maintenance, so you can simply watch them grow. 

Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus

The strawberry hedgehog cactus is another option to consider if you’re thinking of growing your succulent garden. They’re usually small in size, but they grow in big free-branching clusters that can dominate small spaces in your yard.

Their branches can grow up to 28 inches and their spikes can sprout throughout. Because of the spikes, it’s important to take extra care when handling this type of plant. While they are attractive in your desert backyard, they can be quite prickly. 

In terms of care and maintenance, the strawberry hedgehog cactus doesn’t need much water. However, it does need maximum solar lights from the sun. That being said, be sure to place this plant life on the sunniest area of your back or front lawn, and let it absorb as much sun as possible. 

Prickly Pear Cactus

Have you ever wanted to find a unique cactus that’s aesthetically pleasing? Look no further than the prickly pear cactus. This variety of cactus has a distinct characteristic in that it grows fruits known as tunas, which are often red or yellow, and flowers that bloom to about four inches in height. The plant itself can grow to an impressive height of 15 feet and width of 6 feet. If you’re looking for a centerpiece for your show-stopping desert yard on a budget, this is one of the most unique plants that you can find.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a popular and well-loved succulent that’s most famous for its natural gel. While the gel is known for its numerous health and beauty benefits, it also works as a natural moisturizer for the plant. Because of this, aloe vera doesn’t need much water to thrive, especially during the heat of the desert climate. 

You can place your aloe vera on river rocks or in large planters. Depending on your preference for your perfect desert landscape, the placement of your potted plants will vary.


Yucca plants are another variety of succulents that can withstand even the harshest weather. They are distinguishable by their stiff, linear, and durable leaves that end in a spear-like tip. Because their appearance is similar to that of a cactus, both plants look splendidly together. 

The yucca grows easily without needing much water. Typically, it will grow in a rosette formation. In some cases, it may deviate from that and give you a one-of-a-kind shape. 

Incorporate Window Boxes for Your Flowers

Cacti and succulents can indeed take your beautiful landscape to a whole new level. However, if you want to jazz it up some more and add beautiful colors, an easy project is to build window boxes for your flowers.

If you cannot be committed to building your flower garden to liven up your backyard, a simple window box filled with flower beds is one of the best cheap landscaping ideas you can try. 

If you’re not sure what flower to add, a cheap and versatile option is perennial plants. They change colors every season to give your garden a whole new appearance every few months. Some examples of perennial plants include daylilies, lavender, tulips, asters, hydrangeas, and coneflowers. 

While they may have a higher initial cost (around $10 to $30 per plant) than other plants, they will save you money in the long run. 

Festival garland light bulbs hanging over outdoor  shopping area copy space

Hang Outdoor String Lights

As good as your garden looks when the sun is shining bright, it might not give the same appeal when the sun goes down when you’re left with nothing but darkness. 

An easy way to resolve this problem is to hang outdoor string lights. Not only will doing so illuminate the whole outdoor space, but it will also transform your yard into an enchanted wonderland after the sun sets.

To complete the whole ambiance, you can set up a seating area in an open space and light a fire pit. You can host romantic dinners outdoors or invite a few friends over for a small get-together. 

That said, having outdoor string lights is the perfect way to complete the overall front yard design and enhance the overall appearance.

Photo of author


Kristen is the founder and content creator at Mom Managing Chaos where she teaches busy moms how to simplify and organize their life and finances. She writes about frugal living, budgeting, productivity and organization.