San Diego County Chapter

Ocean Friendly Gardens

OFG Icon
The Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program is a volunteer-run landscape education, hands-on training and advocacy program. In addition to providing valuable information to property owners on how landscapes and hardscapes can prevent water pollution, we use this program to encourage landscape professionals to incorporate the program’s principles into their business practices. We also use the program to motivate local governments to support OFG-oriented policy changes for existing and new development.


Why we are doing this.

Water runoff is the #1 source of ocean pollution in urban areas, contributing to flooding and wasting water that can irrigate landscapes and replenish groundwater. OFGs apply CPR – Conservation, Permeability and Retention – to landscapes, hardscapes and streets. They allow soil to act like a sponge to help restore the helpful functions of watersheds like protecting local water supplies and preventing pollution from reaching the ocean. They also reduce flooding, pull carbon from the air and into plants and soil, and create wildlife habitat (at right is typical OFG and below is a curb cut flowing into a bio-swale).


Conservation: Conserve the use of water, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and the amount of maintenance needed. Replacing turf grass areas with native plants or other climate-adapted choices reduces the amount of water needed to maintain a healthy landscape and reduces the potential for polluted runoff, helping to restore our local waterways and a healthy ocean. A well thought out design and selection of plants reduces or eliminates mechanical landscape maintenance and its associated contribution to air pollution.

Permeability: Permeable, living soil sponges up water for plants to tap into during dry months and filters pollutants. Permeable walkways and other permeable “hardscape” along with “living soil” greatly improve a garden’s permeability.

Retention: Retaining rainwater and allowing it to filter into the soil restores reduces the need for irrigation and replenishes groundwater aquifers. The aim is to capture at least the first inch of rainfall after a dry spell – the event called “First Flush” – that carries the most pollutants to our ocean. Approximately 600 gallons of water is generated per inch of rain per 1,000 sq. ft. of impermeable surface. The steps of rainwater retention are to take water otherwise running off your property and slow it, spread it and sink it.

OFG Criteria



Green Gardens Group

Do you want to have your own Ocean Friendly Garden? Hire a G3 Professional to help get you on the right path to sustainability!

G3 Professionals


Urban water runoff is the main source of ocean pollution! It erodes stream banks and creates flooding. This runoff water can be used to irrigate landscapes, recharge groundwater and help ensure base stream flows. In addition, climate appropriate and native plants do not need chemicals and commercial fertilizers to thrive, two of the main water pollutants. Hence, Ocean Friendly Gardens for our oceans, waves and beaches!

Check out the converted Ocean Friendly Gardens on our map below!


OFG Criteria