About OFGs

Learn how to create an Ocean Friendly Garden (OFG) that apply the principles of CPR:

C – Conservation – reducing water and energy with with properly spaced native & climate appropriate plants
P – Permeability – creating healthy soil with mulch and softscape to sponge up water
R – Retention – direct rain gutters into landscape with berms, swales, along with parkway curb cuts to capture runoff

We welcome partnerships with government, non-profit organizations, landscape professionals, businesses and schools to accomplish this.

Pam Berstler of G3, the Green Gardens Group, talks about OFG’s

What is wrong with Runoff?

When it rains, urban runoff is generated from gardens and hard surfaces where the rain water is carried through the municipal storm drain system into our creeks, rivers, streams and ends up in the ocean.  Urban runoff 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.
  • Bacteria from animal poop – sicken humans and marine life, and can close beaches.
  • Sediment (soil) – reduces clarity and contributes to nitrogen imbalance

The first one inch of rain after a dry spell is called the “first flush,” and contains most of the pollutants during a rain storm. Traditional building codes have directed rain water off the property to prevent flooding of a site. But this runoff contributes to flooding of neighborhoods and erosion of stream banks. Runoff also happens during dry periods, known as dry-weather runoff, with sprinklers overwatering and overshooting the landscape.

But 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:

Conservation of water, energy and habitat through native plants and climate adapted plants, spaced for mature growth (the same applies to vegetable and fruit gardens).

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 rain chains, rain barrels and swales/dry stream beds soak up rain water in the soil for the dry season or store it to water veggies, preventing it from running off of the property.

The OFG blog has posts about OFG projects and Surfrider Chapter programs around the country as well as how-to tips for the do-it-yourselfers, or those who want to be better able to communicate with a professional. There are posts about how to:

  • 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

via Ocean Friendly Gardens | Surfrider Foundation.

There are  great how-to site assessment worksheets and manuals on how to design and install landscapes that slow, spread and sink rain water into the landscape at these websites:



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