Survive the Drought, Mexican Style

The Gardenator

What should I plant during this drought? —Water-Worried Wendy, Noleta

Gustavo the Gardenator says you can have a chingón garden even when it doesn’t rain for long time. The popular trend is to use gravel wherever possible and to swap your grass lawn for wood chips and drought-friendly plants, or by installing drip irrigation systems.

It’s cheap, fast, and easy to replace grass lawns with a wood chips, he said, explaining, “P%$#@ woodchip, no mas parajes la tierra y ya.” (Roughly meaning, “Just level that s%#$, sprinkle some woodchips, and you’re done.”) Redwood chips cost more than regular looking wood chips, but look nice. A drip system makes watering the plants easy and water efficient.

He also recommends using cactus because “no nececitan tanta agua y son bonitas”—they don’t need much water and they look pretty. Not all cactus look like cactus either. There are many varieties of cacti and succulents to add sabor to your garden.

Gustavo also recommends geraniums and bougainvillea (for their bright, pretty flowers), jasmine for the beautiful scent, eugenia for a tall green hedge, and juniper if you need a hearty shrub.

Gustavo Uribe is a fifth-generation agricultural specialist who has worked as a professional gardener in Santa Barbara for more than 30 years. Send your gardening questions to


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