Despite a busy schedule, actress Teresa Ruiz admits her mornings are pretty idyllic. Clutching something to read and a hot cup of coffee, she steps into the leafy front garden of her home, relaxes into a glider and tosses a ball to Louie, the black Labradoodle she helps care for.
“I might spend a couple of hours out here, sometimes with my computer. I’m not very good at working indoors,” said Ruiz, one of the stars of the Netflix drama “Narcos: Mexico.” Season 2 of the series premiered Feb. 13.
Her cottage-style house in Santa Monica and its next-door neighbor share the lush, shady garden that stretches across both properties. The side-by-side homes are owned by a pair of acting coaches with whom Ruiz has lived for the last five years.
“They have become my family in Los Angeles,” said Ruiz, 31. “It’s very hard for a new artist to find that support, and I was lucky to find it quickly.”
Ruiz, a native of Oaxaca, Mexico, also co-stars with Liam Neeson in the action thriller “The Marksman” (previously named “The Minuteman”), currently in post-production. While waiting for new projects to solidify, she finds she gets all the emotional sustenance she needs from her front garden.
Why is this your favorite space?
I travel a lot, but when I’m in L.A., this is the place I like to be. I study here. The preparation for all the characters I’ve done has happened right here. And I’ve had the privilege of working with other actors in this garden as well.
You recently revamped the garden. How did that work?
It was a process. The garden before was very raw and rustic. We wanted to keep that same rustic feel but to give it shape and form. We went a few times to a nursery in Santa Barbara and chose lots of new plants.
Do you consider yourself as having a green thumb?
No. We just got advice from experts. I don’t really know what most of these plants are. We brought a lot of ficus trees, and some plants that bloom beautiful purple flowers in the summer.
What else did you have to think about?
There needed to be lots of room for Louie to run and play. And we wanted there to be a balance, design-wise — it’s still wholesome and organic, and feels like a family home, but some thought has been given to it. Next we will be adding some lighting in the trees; I want those small naked lightbulbs. I don’t want it to be too hipster.
What about the furniture?
There’s a wooden table and benches, which were made by an actor friend who is also a woodworker. And the glider has been here since the 1980s.
Does this space remind you of your home in Oaxaca?
My parents’ home is very much like this. The garden is similar, and we even have a table just like this. It was my mother’s dream to have a few houses next door to each other, where they could live in one, and my brother and I could live in the others, where we are close but also had independence. So when she sees the way I live here, she’s so happy.