Ocean Friendly Gardens
Learn about the OFG Series approach: watershed basics class, site evaluation hands-on workshop & workday.
Urban runoff is the #1 source of ocean pollution. Water running off our properties picks ups pollutants like fertilizers, pesticides, animal poo, and fine sediment as well as oil, brake pad dust and exhaust from cars. Runoff also contributes to flooding, and it wastes a free source of irrigation in the landscape. On average, 40-70% of residential water use is happens outdoors. Click here to learn more.
Principles - CPR: Conservation, Permeability and Retention
Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) revive our watersheds and oceans by applying CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention - to our landscapes and hardscapes. OFGs utilize rainwater as the first source of irrigation, create permeable soil and hard surfaces to sponge it up and filter it, and conserve water, energy and wildlife habitat through native plants (and use drip irrigation to help establish the garden and suppliment irrigation). Vegetable and fruit trees can be part of OFGs as as long as they "apply CPR." Click here to learn more about CPR and here for the OFG Sign Criteria (there's also a version of the criteria in a check-box format here). See the OFG Map section below to order an OFG Yard Sign.
Programs & Partnerships
We implement OFG through education, hands-on activities and policy change. (Check with your local Surfrider chapter to see what components they are offering.) We seek to collaborate with government, professionals and non-profits to help put on events and scale-up implementation. Here's info for:
- Activists - The OFG Activist Toolkit explains how to run program events: walks, classes, workdays, workshops. Here's a brief description of each event: walks, class, workdays and workshops. The Toolkit also has volunteer job descriptions, sample event flyers, tabling visuals, slideshows, case studies & more. Note: the Toolkit only has .pdf files. Go to ChapterNet (Resources>Programs>Ocean Friendly Gardens) for .doc and .ppt files, and an "Intro to OFG" .ppt is in this Public Dropbox folder.
- Workday hosts - Click here for more information on your responsibilities. Click here for more information on how Surfrider chapters may help. Here's a set of steps to follow to create an OFG.
- Professionals - Chapters work with professionals who agree to follow the OFG criteria when leading an OFG class or an OFG workday. Professionals who volunteer with chapters may be given priority for leading a chapter event. Click here for more information.
- See gardens and post yours - learn how others went ocean friendly, and see the water runoff prevented and water use savings, pictures and plants lists, and more. Click here.
- Order a yard sign - the info is on the map's "Instructions" page (last item) - click here.
Do It Yourself...Or Share This Info With a Professional You Hire
- Creating a Site Plan and Creating a Rain Garden
- Calculating rainwater harvesting potential and the swale size needed to absorb and filter it
- Determining your soil type
- Killing your lawn through sheet mulching
- Properly installing a plant to ensure success
More Resources - click on the "Resources" tab, above, for videos and articles, the recent OFG Annual Report, and more!
3 Steps to Take Now
- Direct rainwater into a permeable area like landscaping (such as a basin or dry stream bed)
- Apply mulch (such as from a local tree trimmer)
- Install some native plants
- Replace spray-head irrigation with drip irrigation
Note about searching "Recent Blog Posts" - you can search by category - Class, Lawn Patrol, HOW (Hands-On Workshop), and GAP (Garden Assistance Party) - by clicking on the hyperlinked category in any of the posts. For example, click on GAP in any of the blog posts and it will pull up all the posts having to do with GAP.
Ocean Friendly Gardens Brochure - download a copy.
Ocean Friendly Gardens How-To Gardener's Guide Book:
- Surfrider chapters - send an order to Surfrider Mail Order Manager, Jill Tierney, that states how many books you want, your mailing address, and when you need the books by. Jill will give you a price for the books and shipping.
- General public - order it here.
7 shorts from SWRCB on how to retrofit a landscape and hard surface to be an OFG.
- #1 - intro to stormwater
- #2 - killing lawn through sheet mulching
- #3 - disconnecting downspouts
- #4 - lawn care
- #5 - supporting healthy soil
- #6 - permeable hard surfaces
- #7 - swales and rain gardens
The value of a rain barrel with Surfrider-East Coast Regional Manager, John Weber
Stormwater outfall pipe in action - spewing runoff into Seattle's Puget Sound (on a rainy day)
A city hall landscape becomes an OFG through hands-on workshop with Conservation Corps
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)
A small residential OFG done with Surfrider volunteers - Long Beach Daily Bulletin
Fish put into rain garden-filtered runoff survive; those in un-filtered runoff do not, after just 12 hours!
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
March 27 2015
The Surfrider Foundation's San Diego Chapter works with a private water retailer to help turn a water guzzling area of a park, and its runoff producing parking lot, into an example of an Ocean Friendly Garden.
March 16 2015
Surfrider chapters look for events that are turn-key and make a difference. Like college basketball's March Madness, one Surfrider chapter is teaming up with a city to inaugurate an annual event they call Mulch Madness!
March 02 2015
G3/Green Gardens Group's "Soil In The City" Conference was mind-blowing! The world's leaders in soil broke down how soil is the foundation for cleaning water runoff, reversing desertification, and sequestering carbon.
February 16 2015
The Peninsula Elementary School Rain Garden shows the importance of patience, utilizing Surfrider chapter resources, and developing partnerships. The project team had to solve problems: flooding problems in a school courtyard, clogged storm drain piping, and a small budget.
January 26 2015
A federal court found that the County of Maui was unlawfully damaging the water quality of Maui's coast on Friday, January 23rd, with a ruling that injection well discharges from the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility are violating the Clean Water Act. Judge Susan Oki Mollway found that the County is liable for discharges into Wells 1 and 2. This follows a ruling from May 2014 when Judge Mollway similarly found unpermitted violations from Wells 3 and 4.
December 05 2014
The Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens Program undertook an awesome effort in 2013, detailed in a newly released annual report.
December 05 2014
A beautiful Ocean Friendly Garden now sits in what used to be an unused grassy area in front of a highly utilized city community center. It's a model for directing rainwater into the landscape for irrigation, preventing runoff, and creating wildlife habitat.
November 17 2014
Today's release of a report, which Surfrider contributed to, lists actions that state and federal agencies can take now and prepare for the future. It's right in line with Surfrider's Clean Water Initiative approach.
November 07 2014
Surfrider members and staff visited our nation’s capital to lobby for a set of federal priorities related to the protection of oceans, waves, and beaches.
October 24 2014
This project got started when Surfrider-First Coast Chapter Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) Coordinator, Paul Hayden, got a request from Fletcher Middle School Art Teacher, Chris Hicks (in Jacksonville Beach, Florida), to help turn three garden spots at the School into Ocean Friendly Butterfly Gardens.
October 03 2014
Last year’s legislative season in California was a bust for the coast and ocean. In 2013, Surfrider worked on ten coastal and ocean protection bills, and only two bills were signed into law. Surprisingly, this year’s season was the opposite and very successful. Surfrider actively worked on more than a dozen bills and the Governor recently signed nine of those bills into law. Talk about a game-changer for the coast.
September 19 2014
Homeowner association (HOA) residents can now replace their turf grass with low water use plants without fear of being fined or sued by their HOA. Less turf means cleaner surf, since urban runoff is the #1 source of ocean pollution.
September 17 2014
Surfrider's Clean Water Initiative is a solution for wet and dry years - and for drier and wetter climates. It connects together our work to reduce water use, utilize rainwater as a resource, and recycle "wastewater."
June 24 2014
The 1st film gave an intro to why polluted runoff is bad. Now get started with removing your turf grass through sheet mulching - featuring Surfrider Foundation's Ocean Friendly Gardens Program Coordinator!
June 11 2014
A bill to protect the right of a homeowner to plant climate-appropriate landscaping just got a step closer to the governor's desk. Surfrider initiated a sign-on letter, signed by 10 enviro non-profits, in support of the bill.