Living in the Desert of Phoenix Arizona

Saguaro and other cacti at the Gilbert Riparian Preserve

 

Stilt at the Gilbert Riperian Preserve

Many people imagine that the Arizona desert will look like a bunch of sand dunes.  This is not the case.  It is more of a dry hard dirt with many cacti, shrubs, and trees growing there.  The Phoenix metro area is a mixture of native plants and plants seen more traditionally in other areas of the United States.

When we first arrived in Arizona one of the things that surprised me was all of the palm trees in the Phoenix area.  I associated them more with California or Florida before I moved here.  Palm trees are used in lots of landscaping in the Phoenix area and do well here.  There are also lots of citrus trees, typically lemon, orange, and grapefruit. 

When native low water use plants are utilized it is considered desert landscaping.  This can be attractive and fairly easy to maintain.  Common trees for desert landscaping are the palo verde, acia, and mesquite.  Various cacti and shrubs are also utilized.

There are a wide variety of birds that can be seen in Arizona and through the Phoenix area.  There are of course the common morning dove, pigeon, and European starling.  I also frequently see mocking birds and hummingbirds in my yard and have even had a woodpecker visit the yard occasionally.  In some of the aquatic areas it is common to see a bigger variety of birds such as stilts, egrets, and cormorants.  It is always fun to see the Gambel’s Quail and roadrunners.

There is a variety of insect life.  I have seen a surprising number of butterflies when hiking is some of the parks just outside the Phoenix metro area.  Bees and wasps are common visitors to our swimming pool.  We have found if we leave them alone, they leave us alone.  We occasionally have issues in the yard with fire ants.  We try to leave them alone if possible unless they are in an area where we commonly walk.  The fire ants will bite which often leave a small itchy spot.  One of the nice things is that there are not typically a lot of annoying flying bugs like mosquitoes. 

Yes it is hot in the summer.  However, those of us who live here believe that the rest of the year more than makes up for the hot summer.  Also there is a much lower chance of natural disastor in the Phoenix area than in many other areas of the country.  Fires are the biggest concern but most occur in forested areas well away from the major metro area.  Some of the people living in small towns in Arizona near these forested areas can be affected.

Most of the time the weather is great for driving.  No problems in the Phoenix area with lots of rain or snow storms and ice.  We do have the occasional dust storm which can impact visibility but it is usually easy to pull over and wait it out as they don’t last long.   So no snow shoveling or scraping ice off your car in the morning!