One of the most demanding and unfamiliar gardening environments in the US is the desert. The heat, intense sun, and sandy soils with caliche hidden below surfaces are just a few of the challenges gardeners face. Early on, you make a decision to grow drought-tolerant plants that include natives or attempt to recreate that Illinois yard with its grass and roses. It's a tough environment, but not impossible. With care and growing knowledge of the desert eco-system, you can make something beautiful even if you are yourself a fairly recent transplant.