In Tucson and other desert cities, decorative rock is often used for dust control or as a landscape accent. Decorative rock includes decomposed granite, (or d.g. for short), crushed rock, river rock, gravel, and stones of varying sizes including boulders and more.
While it does have its place in the landscape, keep in mind the following:
Covering your yard with d.g. or other inorganic ground cover gains heat in the summer and makes your house and yard hotter. This stone will also give off heat during the night, which means your house and yard will not cool down as much as it would if it were planted with living ground cover or left native soil.
Never place black plastic underneath decorative stone ground cover. This used to be common practice, but the realty is it does not last long and soon weeds will poke up through the plastic making weeding impossible without chemicals, and the plastic will eventually rot and you will have pieces of plastic blowing around your yard.
It is easier to weed your yard if you don’t have rock ground cover. Period.
There are much more environmentally friendly ways to keep dust down. Sow native seeds of grasses and wildflowers and let them fill in around other plantings. A perfectly neat yard is really not necessary and if you look around you will certainly be able to spot some yards that are more natural in nature that look just great.