Ocean Friendly Gardens, Basic Class
March 22 2013

New Malibu OFG Helps to Protect Surfrider Beach

by Paul Herzog

Just up the hill from Surfrider Beach, where Surfrider Foundation got its start, is a new Ocean Friendly Garden that will be applying CPR to revive the ocean. Lots of representatives from government agencies attended the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the garden and pledged to create more. Funding for the OFG came from a state grant received by Surfrider and West Basin Municipal Water District. Additional funds came from a turf grass removal rebate.

Amongst the speakers was Tom Rau, Co-Chair of the OFG Sub-Committee for the West LA/Malibu Surfrider Chapter (pictured speaking, at right). Tom did a great job of speaking about the "problem" (urban runoff, etc.) and the "solution" (applying CPR, meeting the OFG criteria). Tom hit the high points on the solutions:

  • Zero dry-weather runoff - replaced traditional sprayhead irrigation with drip irrigation and rotator sprinkler to initially water plants, then relying on rainwater.
  • Creating a "sponge" in the soil to absorb water for use by plants during the dry periods and to filter pollutants - use of compost, compost tea and mulch.
  • Aiming for zero wet-weather runoff - sloping hard surfaces toward swales.

His talking points are posted in the OFG Activist Toolkit (click here).

Before the new OFG was here, the site was 5,000 sq. ft. of fairly unused turf grass and picnic tables, pictured at left. Kids and parents coming for soccer and baseball games would typically run through the area on the way to the recreational fields.

The new garden, at right, will be a great place for locals and passersby to experience how a landscape can be ecological, economical and beautiful. Classes can be held indoors in the adjacent community center. The maintenance company will benefit from less turf to mow, plus learn about how to take care of native landscapes. And with less turf, there's more time to surf, as the comparison of an OFG-type garden and a traditional one by the City of Santa Monica shows. Click here for the final plant list.

Tom ended his talk by thanking the designers (G3/The Green Gardens Group) and the contractors (Stout Design-Build) and making a call for people to volunteer with Surfrider.

This garden builds on the the City of Malibu's multi-million-dollar investment in creating a nature-park-type area down the hill to capture much of the runoff from the watershed above Surfrider Beach. Water captured in basins with impermeable liners is used to irrigate the landscape.