Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) is a volunteer-run landscape education, hands-on training and advocacy program, providing valuable information on how landscapes and hardscapes can be modified to prevent water pollution. Find out about upcoming volunteer opportunities and events on our chapter’s Facebook page and calendar of Events.

What do gardens have to do with getting barreled?

Urban runoff from lawns, gardens, streets and hardscape is the #1 source of ocean pollution.02 One inch of rain falling on the roof of an average sized single family home can generate over 1,200 gallons of runoff. Most buildings in California are designed to direct rainwater straight into the street. As this runoff travels through our urban landscape it picks up pollutants and bacteria that cause 20,000+ beach closures and advisories nationwide every year. Surfers call it poo patrol and wisely stay out of the water for several days – all of us call it disgusting and harmful.

The goal of our Ocean Friendly Gardens program is to reduce Los Angeles County runoff and prevent it from contaminating our coastal waterways and oceans. Our watershed is everywhere. Even if you live miles inland, the pollutants, trash and runoff in your streets will eventually make its way into the ocean. Fortunately, you can take a water-wise, watershed approach and make changes to your landscape that help capture rainfall, reduce runoff and put water back into our groundwater supply.

Ocean Friendly Gardens apply three primary principles and practices to revive our watersheds and oceans. We like to call it CPR (Conservation, Permeability and Retention):

Conservation of water, energy and wildlife habitat through native and climate-appropriate plants.

Permeability fostered by using materials that allow water to slow and sink into healthy, living
soil. 02

Retention of rainwater for reuse and groundwater recharge, preventing polluted runoff.

Get Your Hands Dirty & Get Involved
What better way to learn about Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens program than by getting your hands dirty in our Hands-On-Workshops (HOWs)! These workshops provide an opportunity for the public to learn about:
– Site evaluation
– Designing a garden for rainwater capture
– Turf removal
– Sheet mulching and soil remediation
– Planting a California native, climate appropriate garden which will provide habitat for birds, insects and pollinators and put water back in our watershed!

Even if you do not have a yard you can become an ambassador for change by volunteering with Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Garden program and participating in HOWs. Removing grass reduces water consumption, decreases polluting urban runoff and puts water back in our local watershed! Nationally, the Ocean Friendly Gardens program has prevented over 13 million gallons of polluted runoff from reaching our waterways and oceans.

To learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities and events, visit our chapter’s Facebook page and calendar of Events. In addition to gardening, we can use help educating at tabling events, updating social media and more. 02


This brochure provides a brief rundown on runoff and the OFG program.

Are you a DIY-er? G3 Green Gardens Group developed this great guide to help.

Would you rather hire a professional? Selva International is our collaborator and they have fantastic ecological expertise. Check out their EcoGardens here!

G3 Green Gardens Group has developed a database of professionals qualified to create landscapes which meet Ocean Friendly Garden criteria.

Rebates & Classes:
Santa Monica offers a comprehensive landscape rebate to help you do your part in saving water, up to $8,000!

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) also offers rebates and suggestions to conserve water and energy and classes regarding irrigation and California Friendly Landscaping. 02Starting in August 2016, they will require an OFG-oriented approach to qualify for the turf removal rebate. Visit their website to learn more.

The LADWP also provides plant suggestions for California Friendly Landscaping.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California provides classes, rebates, tips and tricks to save water, visit their Be Water Wise website.

Mulch & Compost:
02 There are pros and cons to anything free, but if you are looking for sources of free compost and mulch in the Los Angeles area, check out the City of Los Angeles Sanitation Department’s site here.

Rain Barrels:
Rain barrels are a great way to take advantage of the first flush of rain. Surfrider Foundation has partnered with The Ecology Center. Check out this short 7-page resource guide about rain barrels here.

Ready to plant? The Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants is a non-profit dedicated to the preservation, propagation and promotion of California natives. They offer educational programming and also have a retail nursery.

Example Gardens:
Want to scope out some other Ocean Friendly Gardens in your neighborhood, here’s a map to point you in the right direction.

Additional Resources:
To learn more about Surfrider Foundation’s national Ocean Friendly Gardens Program visit Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Gardens site

Want to understand urban runoff? Watch “The Cycle of Insanity,” a 20 minute animated film about the urban water cycle: