On the temp, it's been varying within the nineties, which is on the low side for August here, I take it. It used to get in the nineties in Venice and West LA too, and hundreds in the San Fernando valley where I did a lot of designs.. but we had actual soil there. The soil changes across Abq - on my side of town, it is virtually pure sand, like the beach (very strange, strange), more clayey as you go east, or so they say. Most people in my neighborhood handle gardening by pouring stones on top of the sand.
I like gravel or small cut rock myself - think classic gardens. I just don't like two to three inch rocks tossed around an entire site. Hard to walk on to start with. And - gravel - I've always used it in a kind of minimal way, and much enjoyed it. Rock burns the soil, such as the soil is, and can be tough if you want lively soil. What I deal with in my yard is a lot of underlay black plastic with four inches of fat rocks, on top of what must have been leftover sand for the developer. I've designed development landscape for years, and loathe whomever did this one.
Indeed, the firm we designed with was one of the ten big developers in the country, and I did a lot of the work. I also pulled out of that, as what I didn't want to be doing.