No water? No problem. These hardy denizens stand tall anyway


Thinking of Arizona, what’s the first image that pops into your head? The Saguaro cactus, of course. It’s the universal symbol of the American West. And it’s nearly impossible to live a day here and not catch a glimpse of one these thriving desert xerophytes standing tall, as if assuming the role of protector over these lands.

The city of Chandler has taken action this year to provide desert aesthetics to a stretch of Arizona Avenue that had declined in appearance over the years. The twist? These cacti are made of metal.

Now, two of the landscaping projects that have beautified areas of Chandler have received awards from the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association.

The Arizona Avenue project involved the installation of 70 decorative metal cacti in highway medians between Chandler Heights and Riggs roads.

The city typically would install real plants, said city spokesman Jim Phipps, but there was no available water supply. To bring a water main and install an irrigation system to the median would have cost over $400,000. The steel versions represented one-tenth the cost.

The installation of decorative metal cacti received the association’s highest recognition, an Award of Excellence, given to projects that demonstrate outstanding levels of workmanship and creativity.

The other award-winning project involved 1,200 linear feet of wall and landscaped frontage along Knox Road in central Chandler. Landscape elements included a plant palette of shades, colors and textures that were easy to maintain, cost conscious and beautiful to behold.

The 6-foot-tall, heavy-duty, grout-filled wall features decorative block with intermittent columns trimmed with red-glass tile topped with a precast pier cap. Between the columns is a decorative ‘V’ pattern designed with precast block.

The wall received ALCA’s Award of Distinction, presented to projects of superior workmanship. Both projects were designed by Bart Brown, the city’s landscape maintenance and design coordinator.

—Chelsea Flood


  1. If the Saguaro is endemic to the desert, why would you have to provide a water system to them if real cactus where planted in the medians? If they needed periodic watering, what about a water trailer once every few months? How does a landscape contractor association give an award for phony plants? A real landscape should have / could have been installed for the same amount or less. Do not agree with the ALCA.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here