So exactly what makes a desert landscape design a desert design? As far as the elements in this design, I would say most everything.
The plants were chosen specifically for their xeriscape character of drought tolerance. Bright colors are also a characteristic of desert plants in nature and so reflect an atmosphere of the natural desert landscape.
The tan ground cover rock is actually called desert tan which matches its character and the atmosphere it creates in the design. Being a neutral earth tone, it has a very southwest desert atmosphere. The white rock is a crushed local natural limestone which make it fit in with what is seen naturally in our area.
The retaining wall is a common hardscape seen in a lot of desert landscape designs in this area. While retaining walls like this are found in and used in many other design styles because it is an inexpensive and easy method that most home owners can use to build their own landscaping walls.