Ocean Friendly Gardens, Basic Class, GAP, Water Quality
September 28 2015

Surfrider-San Diego Launches Its Part Of $1.4 Million Sustainble Landscapes Program

by Paul Herzog

A multi-year planning effort has begun implementation to educate residents and landscape professionals on sustainable landscaping as well as turn 6.25 acres of turf grass into Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG)! The Surfrider-San Diego Chapter, with support from Surfrider National, is a partner on this state grant-funded effort called the Sustainable Landscapes Program (SLP). Partners include the City of San Diego, County of San Diego, San Diego County Water Authority, California American Water Co., and Association of Compost Producers.

Surfrider-San Diego and the County launched the half of the 6.25 acres they are responsible for retrofitting with the Watershed Wise Landscape Professional workshop (WWLP), developed and lead by familiar partner G3/Green Gardens Group. The WWLP is the only nationally recognized program that provides participants with the critical thinking skills to understand and implement a holistic approach to landscaping: water needs, water quality, solid waste, flood control, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has given G3 its WaterSense designation for this workshop: meaning that attendees, upon completion of their course work and passing an exam, will become a WaterSense certified Irrigation Auditor. The state grant means that tickets to this two day workshop were just $75 instead of the regular $500.

In addition to in-class learning, attendees got outside to test their knowledge. The first day included an irrigation "catch can" test to prevent runoff and irrigate effectively.

The second day focused on water quality and actually retrofitting a nearby landscape. G3's Regional Coordinator for San Diego, Diane Downey, worked with Surfrider-San Diego OFG member's Joan Bockman on picking a highly visible auto lube shop. The hands-on workshop covered all aspects of a retrofit: site evaluation, turf removal, downspout redirect, grading, and sheet mulching. (With a large site and limited time, it was determined that planting would have be done by Joan on another date.)

The SLP includes several components:

  • Developing landscaping guidelines
  • Education and training for residents and professionals - classes and hands-on workshops
  • Technical assistance - such as one-on-one, on-site coaching
  • Incentives and materials - a rebate for converting to OFG, plus free compost
  • Marketing - working with local government on promotion

The SLP team contracted with a familiar entity, G3/Green Gardens Group, to develop the class, workshop and incentive guidelines to follow the "watershed approach." (This term embodies the OFG principles of CPR - Conservation, Permeability and Retention - and eliminates the concern with going with one of the partners' branded slogans.)

Surfrider-San Diego and the County have contracted G3 to lead their portion of the SLP components. An existing watershed-approach-based residential class provided by the SDCWA will be utilized. Class attendees will be told about hands-on workshops on (1) design and on (2) sheet mulching and grading for passive rainwater capture (aka rain gardens). Workshop attendees will earn credits to have a trained professional do one-on-one, on-site coaching. So all those who pass the WWLP exam will qualify to provide coaching.

A second professional training will be conducted in January 2016, with more classes, workshops and coaching. The program is funded by a state Proposition 84 Integrated Regional Water Management grant.