Ocean Friendly Gardens
Urban runoff from gardens and hard surfaces is the #1 source of ocean pollution. In that runoff are pollutants such as:
- Synthetic fertilizers - increased nutrients leads to algal blooms and red tides, lowering dissolved oxygen levels enough to kill aquatic habitat and fisheries.
- Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides - poison humans, marine life and soil biology.
- Automobile engine oil, exhaust and brake pad dust as well as exhaust from utilities - poison marine life.
- Bacteria from animal poop - sicken humans and marine life, and can close beaches.
- Sediment (soil) - reduces clarity.
The first one-inch of rain after a dry spell is called the "first flush," and contains most of the pollutants during a rainstorm. Traditional building codes have directed rainwater off the property to prevent flooding of a site. But this runoff contributes to flooding of neighborhoods and erosion of stream banks. Runoff also happens during dry periods, known as dry-weather runoff, with sprinklers overwatering and overshooting the landscape.
But gardens and hard surfaces can prevent runoff and flooding, and still be beautiful, resourceful, and wildlife-friendly. How? Apply CPR to your property - Conservation, Permeability and Retention © - to revive our watersheds and oceans:
- Conservation of water, energy and habitat through native plants and climate adapted plants, spaced for mature growth (the same applies to vegetable and fruit gardens).
- Permeability through mulch and biologically active soil as well as using permeable materials for - or making cuts in existing - driveways, walkways and patios that allow water to percolate into the soil.
- Retention devices like rain chains, rain barrels and swales/dry stream beds soak up rain water in the soil for the dry season or store it to water veggies, preventing it from running off of the property.
- kill your lawn naturally by sheet mulching
- determine your soil type (helps with choosing the right plant) and see if the soil is compacted
- calculate rainwater harvesting potential and area needed to absorb it
- how to properly install a plant
Check out the all-in-one site assessment and design worksheets created by G3/The Green Gardens Group for the Water LA project. There are other great how-to worksheets on the Water LA website. G3 also created a complete retrofit handbook for Los Angeles County that is transferable across the nation, excluding the plant lists.
The Resources section (click on "Resources" tab, above) directs you to the:
- OFG Criteria
- OFG Online Map
- OFG Activist Toolkit
- Program components - walks, workshops and workdays.
- OFG videos and articles
Online OFG Map to learn from others and post your garden. There, you can review the OFG Sign Criteria and request a yard sign.
OFG Activist Toolkit that provides step-by-step direction on how to put on OFG events, how-to forms like a Workday Questionnaire (in the Appendices), case studies and more.
Ocean Friendly Gardens Brochure - download a copy.
Ocean Friendly Gardens How-To Gardener's Guide Book - order it here.
NEW! OFG featured on state water agency website.
"Slow The Flow: How To Make Your Garden Act More Like A Sponge" (features San Francisco Chapter's OFG Program)
Elmer Avenue - OFG + green street (Los Angeles Area)
National OFG Program Coordinator, Paul Herzog, interviewed by Los Angeles City Stormwater blog - click here
Article on OFG Program in Watershed Management Group's newsletter ("Get Your Garden Out Of The Gutter") - click here
OFG Program Components
May 13 2013
Students with the Surfrider QUAD Club decided that their first project would be a hands-on experience with installing an Ocean Friendly Garden. Now it's a permanent solution to pollution and a great learning tool for them and for the community. It may spark changes off campus, too!
April 26 2013
Though Ocean Friendly Garden principles apply along the coast as well as inland, it's great when an OFG is installed along a high-profile beach boardwalk. To top it off, the ribbon cutting was covered by a major tv station, including a water district director giving the Surfrider OFG pitch!
April 18 2013
A Ventura, CA Surfrider activist with the Ocean Friendly Gardens Program learned about Habitat rehabbing a house and asked them about partnering on re-doing the landscape. The local Habitat rep liked the idea and loved the result. The next door neighbor may be next and including a curb cut, and then we're talking about scaling up and a green street!
March 22 2013
This new, high-profile Ocean Friendly Garden at Bluffs Park is just up the hillside from Surfrider Beach, where Surfrider Foundation got its start. Backed by the City and many others, it's a good model for people to draw from: at home, at work, and elsewhere.
March 07 2013
Whether your chapter is just getting going with OFG or has been at it for awhile, giving talks and leading walks are easy on-ramps for volunteers. A talk can be given to any group, and walks can be lead from any garden.
February 25 2013
Students at this high school had already been actively participating in local water quality testing through Surfrider's Blue Water Task Force (BWTF). After helping to create an Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) at their high school, the students will be monitoring how well garden's soil acts like a sponge to absorb and filter water directed to it from the adjacent building's roof. This ties together BWTF and OFG.
November 15 2012
On a rainy afternoon in late October, 32 participants attended the Florence Rain Garden Workshop to learn about ways to reduce non-point source pollutants flowing off their property as part of the Siuslaw Chapter’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program. Green Girl Land Development Solutions showed how it can be fun and educational.
November 13 2012
It takes a village to raise a child - and to create an Ocean Friendly Garden. Several city government departments worked with the Surfrider chapter: from redirecting a downspout and installing the dry stream bed to providing tools and food. Once again, workday "coaching" was provided by G3/The Green Gardens Group.
October 12 2012
The San Diego Surfrider Chapter utilized their current OFG Series (Class, Workshop, Workday) to train new teachers. More trained teachers mean being able to scale up the Program to educate and transform more gardens. Good timing: the Chapter is a partner on a large grant-funded program with the City, County and others that will offer classes and workshops.
October 11 2012
After creating an Ocean Friendly Garden on this property, the owner went after street runoff. In water quality circles, it's referred to as LID, or Low Impact Development. But for the most part, it's removing asphalt and concrete barriers to landscape-based solutions.
September 28 2012
After holding a class then conducting a planning workshop in the landscape to be retrofitted, volunteers came ready to build the garden - and celebrate afterwards with a BBQ!
September 24 2012
When the City Parks Department expressed uncertainty about killing turf grass without chemicals, the Santa Barbara and Isla Vista Surfrider Chapters brought out their (pitch)forks and got cooking in the garden with the lasagna method.
July 20 2012
Like the Newport, OR Chapter, the Portland, OR Chapter teamed up with a Soil and Water Conservation District to host a sustainable landscaping class. Surfrider staff, Pete Stauffer, volunteered his landscape to be the site to apply this new knowledge. Step 1: Site Evaluation.
July 19 2012
After testifying at a hearing about a proposed Los Angeles County stormwater fee for all property owners, West LA/Malibu OFG Sub-Committee members wanted to know more about what resources the County was already offering to reduce polluted runoff, what gaps existed, and how to collaborate. So they set up a meeting...
June 20 2012
Parents of kids at this elementary school have agreed to take over maintenance of the OFG in front of the school. They worked with the West LA/Malibu OFG Sub-Committee on a plan, and engaged a parent who is a landscape professional as well as City and School District staff.
June 08 2012
This year's San Diego County Fair theme is, "Out of This World," and the local Chapter OFG Committee "used the force" to show they tackle real world landscape issues. The three honors were for the best display representing the diversity of San Diego landscape, for benefit to the environment, and for both educational and functional value.
May 18 2012
What's in a typical bag of fertilizer at the neighborhood nursery? More than you thought - and not what you hoped for. What is the Ocean Friendly Garden approach to building soil health, the foundation of an OFG?
May 14 2012
Slightly overcast weather - perfect for working - greeted 30+ volunteers at an OFG Workday. The Workday was the next step in the OFG Series,
April 10 2012
For the past two decades the Ventura Chapter has been working on integrated solutions to the problems that face our ocean, waves, and beaches. Learn more about the many programs and campaigns they are leading to protect and restore water quality, water supply and watershed function in the Ventura River watershed.
April 03 2012
Surfrider partners with an LA-based water district to fund ten public demonstration Ocean Friendly Gardens. In Los Angeles, Fire Station 171 holds a class and then goes out to the garden for show-and-tell at the new Ocean Friendly Garden built at their station.