Designing for Southwest climates takes a specific level of expertise, and at ABLA, we are always up to task. As large-scale landscape architects and planners in the Sunbelt area of the United States, our experience and design sense allow us to create spaces that capture the surrounding natural beauty while remaining functional and sustainable.
We determined four essential factors that come into play with every project that help to make a community that’s inspiring, impactful, and true to the climate of the surrounding area.
Shade is an absolute necessity in the desert southwest. By removing solar radiation, a shaded space can feel up to 20 degrees cooler and reduce harmful UV rays. This can keep playground equipment and benches cool to the touch and prolong your time outdoors.
With every community, we not only create tree lined streets, and parks with plenty of trees, but we add shade structures in playgrounds and places where people congregate and hang out. Pavilions and pergolas in pool areas, parks, and fields also help to make outdoor time achievable in even the hottest months.
#2: Plant & Green Space
For us, it’s important that we don’t just hit minimums for plant and green space design, but that we go above and beyond, facilitating green spaces and shade in a sustainable way. One of our communities, Boulder Ranch, shows the utilization of roadway geometry, designing thoughtfully around the existing large trees, arcs, canyons, and tangents.
All the plant material we use is compliant with Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR), which means they require minimal water. We also use Evapotranspiration-based irrigation controllers, which can reduce irrigation 42% more than a time-based irrigation schedule.
We also are very mindful with how we use turf and often employ synthetic turf for smaller turf areas.
We’ve found that trails are one of the most sought after amenities in a community, as they are a great way to stay active, and enjoy the beautiful weather we have nine months out of the year.
We invest energy in designing open view corridors throughout our developments, connecting nearby preserves, and the city’s trail system so cyclists and hikers can enjoy plenty of high desert terrain and landscape to explore.
#4: Indoor outdoor living:
The ability to seamlessly transition indoor and outdoor living is a big piece that the desert southwest has to offer.
With each design, we create a natural bridge where homeowners can see green space from the inside of the house. Materials and finishes, shade structures, lighting, and plant life can all work together to link the spaces together and can make an impactful difference in a way a project can feel.