Dry Landscaping Inspiration

As the days get longer, many people are starting to think about Springtime home beautification projects. 

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Landscaping is top of mind, and solutions that limit water use are of high interest to homeowners, especially in water constrained states like Arizona.  Here are some ideas that will beautify your outdoor areas while conserving water use.

Forget Grass!

Not only are sand and gravel lower maintenance than grass, but they will beautifully compliment the rest of your landscaping. If you are concerned about issues such as water conservation or chemical use on your lawn, you may be pleased to learn that sand and gravel can be great alternatives. Landscaping gravel comes in a variety of colors and textures, and so does sand.

Glass Gravel

Glass gravel is an unusual and stunning alternative which comes in a variety of colors and sizes and lasts forever. Glass gravel is made from recycled and broken-down glass. It undergoes rigorous cleaning and is tumbled until no sharp edges remain. You can use glass gravel as an accent for gardens, walkways, or landscape beds.

Lava Rock

Lava rock is naturally porous, meaning liquid and air pass through very small holes in the rock. This makes it an absorbent landscaping material for gardening. It is also an attractive alternative that comes in many different styles.  The fact that it’s porous also makes it lightweight, so it is easier to install than other rock and gravel. Lava rock has become a popular choice for desert landscaping because it imitates natural terrain so well.

Pea Gravel

Pea gravel is a landscaping favorite. This is because of its smooth texture and amazing color variation. Also, the cost is very reasonable making it an appealing choice for almost any application. Fill a side yard, cover a driveway, design a patio, build a dog run, walkway, or planting bed. You can choose gravel based on your knowledge of space available or by using a gravel calculator.

Paver/Concrete Sand


Concrete sand can be used to level the ground beneath pavers and fill the spaces between them. This coarse-washed sand helps prevent shifting and breaking of the pavers, making a paver walkway much more stable.  True to its name, concrete sand is also used for making certain types of concrete. The concrete can then be poured into a tile template. This creates the illusion as if it was made by laying down individual pavers. It can also be used to create patio areas, garden edging… even outdoor steps! In this sense, it is truly decorative sand.

Play Sand

Play sand, or Mason sand, can be used to incorporate a children’s play area into your yard. Like other landscaping materials, it comes in a variety of colors. This decorative sand is perfect for use in sandboxes and under play equipment because the medium-coarse reduces tracking. This means the sand will not be dragged into your home and other parts of your garden or on your kid’s shoes.

Outdoor Sports Area

Play sand is also very useful in the creation of outdoor sports courts such as:

  • Volleyball courts
  • Golf courses
  • Beach ball courts

It can be patted down into a smooth play surface surrounded by small pavers to create an authentic home play field. The variety of color choices to this decorative sand give you many options for creative visuals when designing your court.

Zen Garden

A Japanese Zen garden is a beautiful and meaningful way to showcase multiple landscaping materials. A Zen garden is a rock garden showcasing uniquely-shaped larger rocks—think of them as an accent—in a bed of enclosed play sand or gravel.  Landscaping sand or gravel represents the sea. Larger, decorative rocks represent the earth and its natural formations. Interestingly, Zen gardens do not include any living plants.

To upkeep the garden, periodically rake the sand or gravel to recreate the moving waters of the sea. The Japanese have been known to design intricate patterns with the sand which require intense concentration; then, it all gets raked away to make way for a new design. Tending to a Zen garden can be a meditative experience.

About the Author:

Kevin Guzior is the COO of Pioneer Landscaping Centers,  He started his tenure with Pioneer in 2007, and has lead the sales, product, operations, marketing, and finance divisions for the past 13 years, ensuring Pioneer delivers on its promise to be the easiest to do business with. With 35 retail locations, and 20-plus quarry and production facilities in both Arizona and Colorado, Pioneer makes it easy for contractors, municipalities, DIYers, and homeowners to get the job done.