Is there a difference in meaning or usage between "desolate" and "deserted" (used to describe a place)?
Desolate refers to a general emptiness.
(of a place) uninhabited and giving an impression of bleak emptiness. Oxford Dictionary
Deserted implies that the place had people (or animals, etc.) occupying it at some point but has since been abandoned.
(of a place) empty of people. Oxford Dictionary
Used in a sentence together:
This city was once surrounded by farm fields, but a plague killed the crops. The people left the city and left it deserted. Now, with ruined silhouettes and a wasteland where nothing grows around it, the area looks desolate.
It's a good idea to check English-language dictionaries when uncertain about the nuance between two words, as these might give more detail that doesn't show up in a translation dictionary:
deserted (adj) : (of a place) empty of people.
desolate (adj): 1. (of a place) uninhabited and giving an impression of bleak emptiness.
"Deserted" is normally used as a neutral term. A barren wasteland can be deserted, but so can a beautiful tropical beach.
"Desolate", on the other hand, always has negative connotations of both "without people" and "invoking feelings of hopelessness". If an author describes a desolate landscape, it implies that there is little there to support life, and little reason for people to want to be there.