You are not alone: I hate Zero-scapes too!
Oh Boy, do I!?! There is nothing fantastic about a sea of gravel. That’s why we don’t do “zero-scapes.” But we’ll design a Xeriscape for you that will make your neighbors green (with envy of course). “Xeriscaping” is a portmanteau of xeros (Greek for “dry”) and landscaping, and it refers to a method of landscape design that simply minimizes water use.
The best part about it is, you don’t have to have cactus, if you don’t want it. No one—least of all, The Hilltop—wants to turn the City of Albuquerque in to a barren land of cacti, yucca and rock. It’s the exact opposite! We need trees, shrubs and flowers in order to have a healthy atmosphere. Remember this word from 3rd grade: photosynthesis? It’s a lot more complicated than our happy crayon-drawn tree sucking in dirty air and breathing out clean air (I’ll spare you all the math and long scary words), but that is basically what happens.
With that said, there is an amazing plethora of lovely plant material that you can choose from. We have such an array of colorful flowers, attractive and versatile shrubs and groundcovers, whimsical ornamental grasses, architecturally striking desert accents and stately trees. So many options are available, that the design possibilities are wide open! And that is coming from someone who learned landscape design in the most tropical and lush part of the USA.
It is not impossible to have a beautiful verdant landscape in the high desert. You can have Formal English, Tsukiyama, Tuscan Renaissance, or simply a colorful, leafy, and ornately exciting setting. It takes knowledge of our area’s micro-climates and the proper way to irrigate, in addition to using the plant’s characteristics, the site’s advantages and available resources in the most intelligent way.