A golfer waits at the tee box for putters to wrap up their game at Sun City Shadow Hills on Tuesday in Indio. The homeowners association of Sun City Shadow Hills has incorporated desert landscaping into their golf course, as can be seen on the right side of the photo.

With a population of about 6,000 people, Sun City Shadow Hills is larger than many small towns. Its 55-and-over residents flit from single-family homes to golf courses to pickleball and tennis courts, some driving golf carts alongside cars on the gated community’s rolling streets. Dogs abound. Joggers wave to one another in morning sunlight.

Much of the community is covered in lush green grass, particularly around the regulation golf course. But increasing swaths of it — both yards and public spaces — have been converted back into the sand, gravel and flowering bushes that naturally carpet the Sonoran Desert.

“I don’t think anybody realized how attractive it could be,” said Stu Stryker, president of the homeowners association board.

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