Desert-Wise Top Ten Tips
- Plant Native - Successful Morongo Basin landscaping uses native plants that support wildlife, requires less water and no fertilizer.
- Go Solar - Combat climate change by harnessing the power of the sun. Desert-Wise in the Morongo Basin means putting sunny skies to work at your home.
- Protect Wildlife - Poisons (rodenticides, insecticides, herbicides) flow up the food chain and kill pollinators and natural predators like owls, bobcats, and coyotes.
- Keep Night Skies Dark - Shield and limit your outdoor lights -- the better to see our majestic night skies!
- Conserve Water - Water wise is Desert-Wise. Water is limited and precious in the Morongo Basin. Add rain barrels and greywater systems to your landscape for irrigation needs.
- Drive Slowly - Desert dust travels far on dirt roads...and wildlife has the right-of-way.
- Tread Lightly - don't bust the crust of desert soil as it's alive. Stay on designated OHV or hiking routes.
- Shop Local - Support our Morongo Basin small-town businesses before shopping online or outside the area.
- Treasure the Quiet - Respect your neighbors as sound travels far in the desert. The desert speaks softly. Keep quiet to hear it.
- Respect Indigenous or Pioneer Relics - Honor the past. Do not disturb Native American petroglyphs/Pioneer artifacts.
We at MBCA are big believers in the idea that conservation begins at home. Every year we sponsor a highly-popular landscape tour to encourage locals to consider wildlife- and water-friendly gardens.
Part of successful desert-wise living is knowing what constitutes desert-wise. These values include landscaping that keeps in mind water and energy conservation, off-the-grid living, native and/or drought-tolerant plantings, and permaculture ideals.
- Some of our favorite native plants are featured in our Plant Spotlight, and on our Plant Spotlight page.
- Finding native or drought-tolerant plants can be challenging, but you've got to know where to look. Here is a listing of nurseries sourcing such plants. Note also that the Joshua Basin Water District has a native plant sale in the spring, as does the Mojave Desert Land Trust, in the spring and fall.
- One way to learn about desert-wise plants in the landscape throughout the microclimates and elevations of the Morongo Basin is to participate in our Desert-Wise Living Landscaping Tour, usually held in April. The tours for 2020 and 2021 are virtual due to COVID-19, so you can watch and learn in the comfort of your own home. For 2022 we held a hybrid tour of videos and in-person sites.
- Find landscaping and irrigation plans, plant lists and more on our Resources page.
Tour public demonstration gardens at the Joshua Basin Water District and other locales.
- Only grow the plants you want and avoid invasive plants.
What is "desert-wise living"?
If you are a long-time desert resident, you probably understand that it's about how to live in harmony with the desert environment, providing an enviable quality of life. You may already be following all of our Top Ten Tips for Desert-Wise Living, but take a look in case there is something more you can do.
If you are a new to desert living, you may find some significant differences in day-to-day life than what you’re used to. By following our Top Ten Tips for Desert-Wise Living, you will not only add to your enjoyment of desert life, but will help conserve its beauty and balance. Examples of harmonious living range from using low-water native plants in the landscape to save water, to preserving our starry night skies with low-voltage lighting.
MBCA has been hosting programs under the banner of Desert-Wise Living since 2011.
- A detailed plant list from a mainly native garden in 29 Palms (PDF).
- Robin Kobaly's plant list for hi-desert gardens. Find helpful planting and other resources on her site as well.
California Native Plant Society (CNPS)
We are lucky in California to have a thriving and helpful native plant society. (Check out the local Mojave chapter of CNPS). Also included in the resources they provide is one for gardeners, Calscape.
- Cheyenne Bonnell's garden has been featured on our Landscape Tour. See it showcased on Fine Gardening's website.
- Check out the spectacularly landscaped Mojave Rock Ranch on Garden Design's website.
- Blogger Lisa Burford covers Mojave desert gardening on her site Mojave Garden.
- A Joshua Tree home showcasing its native plantings.
- A helpful brochure about native plants best for our area.
- Wonderful planting and irrigation designs from JBWD.
- Water-wise native desert plants brochure from the Summertree Institute.
- A gorgeous brochure from the city of Palm Desert. Use caution as some of the plants featured are not cold-tolerant.
- Another resource, customized for the high desert, is Plant Search by the Alliance for Water Conservation (AWAC).
Desert-Wise Public Gardens
Illustrations and pictures are all well and good, but sometimes it's best to see plants in a garden. That's what our Desert-Wise Landscaping Tour is for, this year April 24th). Fortunately, the rest of the year there are several public native plant gardens in the Morongo Basin.
The Joshua Basin Water District has a large demonstration garden showcasing different planting styles, such as Mediterranean. The garden is open to the public during business hours (it is closed during COVID-19 lockdown).
The Twentynine Palms Water District also has a public demonstration garden.
Check out this guide to the Bighorn Water District's demonstration garden in Landers.
Here is a map and directions to the above locations and other hi-desert demonstration gardens, courtesy of Hi-Desert Water Agency & AWAC.
EBlast September 20, 2019
REPORT on Desert-Wise Lecture Fall 2016
Eblast: August 29, 2016
- Altamira Gated Housing Project
- Joshua Tree Solar Farm
- Soda Mountain Solar Project
- Dollar General Store vs. Joshua Tree
- Homestead Valley & Pioneertown Community Plans
- MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture
Eblast: August 15, 2016
- Joshua Tree Solar Farm – video broadcast TOMORROW in JT
- Soda Mountain Solar – comment deadline 8/22/16
- MBCA Desert Wise Living fall lecture 9/24/16
- Joshua Tree Airport Solar Farm - Appeal Hearing decision
- Broadcast live via videoconference at the JT Burke Government Center tomorrow, Tuesday, August 16th, starting at 1:00PM