Our Work

Ocean Friendly Gardens

Urban water runoff is the #1 source of ocean pollution, and it erodes stream banks and creates flooding. The water could irrigate landscapes, recharge groundwater and help ensure base stream flows. Plus, plants do not need chemicals and commercial fertilizers, two of the main water pollutants. Click here to learn more about the problem. Read about how soil works to "sponge up" water, pollution, and carbon dioxide (and how artificial turf does not).

Ocean Friendly Gardens is part of Surfrider's Clean Water Initiative, an integrated approach to water, where you will find resources such as our short, animated film, "The Cycle of Insanity."

Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) revive our under-hydrated watersheds and polluted oceans by applying CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention - to our landscapes and hardscapes:

  • C - Conserve water and wildlife habitat with native or climate appropriate plants.
  • P - Permeable, living soil and hard surfaces that runoff to landscapes to filter pollutants, sponge up water for plants to tap into during dry months, and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmostphere.
  • R - Retain rain as the first source of irrigation.

OFGs are like rain gardens (pictured above/right), where water is slowed down, spread out, and allowed to sink in. Click here to learn more about CPR and here for the OFG Sign Criteria (a check-box format is here). Think of the criteria as the techniques to follows. If you meet the criteria, please order and display our yard sign - see info below in the "OFG Map" section.

Do It Yourself...Or Share This Info With a Professional You Hire

More Resources - on the "Resources" tab, e.g., videos and articles.

4 Steps to Take Now

Direct rainwater to soil. Apply mulch. Install native plants. Switch to drip.

 Programs & Partnerships

As the above video shows in part, 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, talks, workdays, and policy meetings. Here's a brief description of each event: walks, talks, and workdays (Garden Assistance Party). Just tabling at events is great! 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.) An "Intro to OFG" slideshow is in this Public Dropbox folder to download and edit; here's a short slideshow focusing on program objectives and how it has a national reach. Also, chapter OFG activists can enter their activity data at any time into this tracking sheet rather than waiting till the end of the year.
  • 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. Click here for more information.
  • Public gardens (botanic gardens) - they often offer programs for children and adults, and may have connections with colleges, other gardens, nurseries, native plant societies and landscape associations. Check out the American Public Gardens Association for a garden near you.


  • 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 (and download the brief form in item 17).

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.