We work hard all our lives. We love to garden. We save for retirement and keep our fingers crossed that Social Security will provide a little something. Then it’s time, and we discover that, even with our plans and savings, we are priced out of the market. So we look elsewhere. After all, we are free to roam, and we find Costa Rica with its fine climate and wonderful plants, and we settle down. Then we discover that all those (mumble, mumble) years of gardening have left some
medical issues, so we find a gardener.
There are a lot of gardeners here, and they all know exactly what they are doing . . . Okay, no, they don’t. I have talked about it before, the difference in just digging a hole for a plant. Your gardener will dig a hole 8 inches wide and 18 inches deep, a little pot for your plant. What you want, what you have been taught, what you used to do, is dig a nice wide shallow hole for your plant so you could spread out the roots.
Who’s right? Well, the wide hole is better and, even though he may grumble, your gardener will dig it, but that doesn’t mean that what the expat knows is always best.
Metric Man and I live in hilly country as do most of our friends. In the States, we were used to nice green lawn spreading out around the house. In fact, I have a friend who insists on wide green lawns. Here, your gardener knows best. Trust me. He understands rain and you really, really don’t. Really!
A nice green lawn today will be a nice mushy brown slumping mess in the rainy season. What you need here is vetiver with its tremendous roots at slope edged property. Got hills? Try maní, perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata), which sends out very deep tap roots. Mani covers itself with yellow flowers, so, no, you will not have that green green lawn but you will have rainfall protection.
Another good plant for hills is trailing sunflower. The roots don’t dig in as deeply but it is easy to establish (as are maní and vetiver) and digs in quickly on short hills, although I don’t recommend it for covering acres of land. For large areas, maní is probably the best choice, but don’t look for seeds. Just find some by the roadside and dig it up (or just yank on it. That works too). Don’t worry if you didn’t get the deep roots, the surface roots will keep things going.
So, for hillsides, listen to your local gardener. He understands rain better than you do. Other things are for mediation. And keep a shovel in your car for that perennial peanut.