Key to your success will be growing plants that belong in the desert and are adapted to it. I grew up in Southern California and too many people were trying to grow the same plants they grew up with somewhere else, which requires constant watering and babying. Water is a precious resource, especially where you are (where I am now it just falls out of the sky frequently in the summer!
So a few suggestions of plants that will like your hot weather and not need much water (once established, everything needs a little help getting started) : Bird of paradise has gorgeous, sunset colored flowers, rosemary is a nice herb, with a wonderful scent, comes in ground-cover or upright forms, ocotillo grows very tall and slender with bright red "flowers" at the tops, is very striking in the landscape. Yuccas, agaves, cactus are other traditional desert landscape plants.
Look up xeriscaping - ie. dry gardening. Other perennial flowers for xeriscaping include: gaillardia (blanket flower), lavender, salvia, penstemon, yarrow, anise hyssop.