How do I prep the ground for desert landscaping?

I'm renting a place that has crappy grass/lawn around the pool and the back yard and I need to know what I need to do to in order to get rid of the grass that's there, and how to properly pre-treat the ground before laying rocks. Eventually I may want to add some desert plants and a drip system but I don't have the capital for that right now. For now I just want to go with rock.

Scrape back as deep as you are planning for the rock, say 3" ? Put down a "soil separation membrane", or geotextile layer, then cover with rock and stone. This will stop the stones sinking into the ground with time, and will also stop weeds coming back up. Geo-tex is available in the UK in our big DIY stores -your equivalent'd be Lowes or Home Depot