Santa Barbara landscape architect offers drought busting tips

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Design by Billy Goodnick. Two terraces filled with weedy lawns were replaced with colorful, drought-tolerant masses of flowering and textural plants. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

With water rates climbing along the South Coast and California’s drought in its fourth year, many Californians are considering making landscaping changes at home. Among other cities, Santa Barbara offers cash incentives to make the switch to drought-friendly yards.

Billy Goodnick was the city of Santa Barbara’s landscape architect for more than 20 years. Now he writes and consults on low-water landscaping. He stopped by our KCRW Santa Barbara studios to talk about ways of reducing water use in your home and garden.  He said, overall, Santa Barbara’s landscape is fairly drought-friendly.

He shared these water-saving tips with our listeners:

1. Add Mulch to your yard. “Organic mulch — bark chips, ground green waste — serves as an insulator, trapping moisture below, reducing evaporation due to sun and wind, and gradually decomposing to improve the soil structure and retain even more water.”

2. Lose the Lawn and take advantage of government rebates. “A lot of people are encouraged by the lawn rebate….You can get up to $1,000 …. for replacement plants, irrigation… ”

3. Get in touch with your water agency. They will let you know what you qualify for.

You can learn more on Billy’s website or Facebook page, Crimes against Horticulture. He also teaches landscaping classes at Santa Barbara City College Center for Lifelong Learning.

He produced several entertaining shows for CityTV called “Garden Wise Guys.” Check out this groovy song parody called “Taking out the Grass.”

Find more water-saving tips at