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.
- Sediment (soil) - the finer material can be laced with heavy metals, and too much sediment can smother coral. Some (larger) sediment transport is needed to maintain streambanks and riverbottoms as well as replenish beaches. (All four of these bullets also contribute to Ocean Acidification (OA), which decreases shell- and skeleton-forming calcium carbonates in the ocean, among other problems. This causes sea life like shell fish and coral to either decline or try to put more energy into gathering carbonates, having less energy to survive. Here's a blog post about OA.)
- Bacteria from animal poop - sicken humans and marine life, and can close beaches.
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. It also can overwhelm sewer systems in which the storm drains and sewer infrastructure is combined. Runoff also happens during dry periods, known as dry-weather runoff, with sprinklers overwatering and overshooting the landscape.
Yet, 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:
- 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 swales/dry stream beds soak up rain water in the soil, preventing it from rushing off of the property and filtering pollutants. Water sponged up in soil provides natural flood control and supports soil microorganisms, which bring water to plants as they "request" it. Rain barrels, with overflows to landscapes, can provide water for vegetable plants during dry months.
- 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
Start with either of these guides, whether doing it yourself or working with a professional (and see if they agree to follow them):
- All-in-one site assessment and design worksheets conceived 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 these and other resources:
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 2012 Annual Report - download a copy.
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.
OFG Program Components:
- Watershed Basics Class
- Hands on Workshop (HOW)
- Garden Assistance Party (GAP)
- Lawn Patrol (neighborhood walk)
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
March 07 2014
Our watersheds need the rain. Let's un-cover our cities to use it - and reduce flooding, pollution and imported water.
February 07 2014
A stormwater agency was having trouble finding a good picture of a rain garden for a calendar with water pollution prevention tips. They heard about Surfrider's OFG Program, liked the picture we gave them, and OFG became the February cover shot for "Detain The Rain."
January 29 2014
A drought emergency has been declared by the governor of California, and other southwestern and southern states are likely to follow suit. OFG help reduce landscape water demand, prevent pollution of waterways, and more.
December 02 2013
The 2013 Surfrider-East Coast Chapters Conference showed that OFG is spreading and strengthening in the Mid-Atlantic region, on down to Georgia. A follow-up visit to the New England-area chapters showed they are ready to launch!
October 03 2013
A team of school staff, parents and kids working with community groups, professionals and Surfrider-Ventura County Chapter made this garden happen. Now the school district grounds and maintenance staff are up for doing them at more schools!
September 20 2013
Creating an Ocean Friendly Garden at a high profile community center means lots of people will see it. Get the approval, support and funding can be a little more challenging than a private-owned site. Maintenance is also a factor.
September 06 2013
Five Surfrider chapters from four Hawaiian islands gathered for their annual conference, and learned about Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens Program. A pre-conference meeting with a sister non-profit, and a tour by them after the conference, showed partnership potential on one island. Now, several island chapters are kicking off an OFG program.
July 26 2013
The Surfrider chapters, volunteers, students and advisors that make up the Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program undertook an awesome effort to both educate the public about OFG and conduct hands-on trainings to build OFGs in their communities during 2012. We are thankful to our funders: Aveda, California Coastal Commission, West Basin Municipal Water District, Wells Fargo, and individual donors.
June 14 2013
News reporters are always looking for a good story, with a "hook" (angle) that catches the interest of a reader. This Newport Beach, CA story connects runoff prevention, ocean water quality, and government turf removal rebates.
June 06 2013
Thanks to the Surfrider chapter partners at G3/The Green Gardens Group, OFG concepts of CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention - are being incorporated into a landscape class G3 will teach for water agencies representing 19 million people throughout Southern California! It is scaling-up OFG well beyond the capacity of Surfrider to reach all those people.
May 21 2013
Temperatures are warming and people are thinking about garden plans. Interest among property owners and water agencies is growing for an approach like OFG that combines water quality, water supply and other issues. 6 OFG events, sponsored by Surfrider chapters or private- and public-sector partners, took place in just one day in Southern California!
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.