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.

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).

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!


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!





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.”


California’s landscapes provide essential functions throughout our urban environment. It’s where we recreate, cool our buildings, enhance property values, capture, clean and recharge groundwater, provide wildlife habitat, grow food locally, and much more. The optimal design, installation and management of these spaces is critical to enhancing California’s quality of life while protecting our limited natural resources.


These guidelines for San Diego landscapes help us think more sustainably when we evaluate, plant, build, and maintain our landscapes. The watershed approach considers every garden as though it were a mini-watershed, holding on to or cleaning all the water that falls on it and nurturing a diverse habitat of plants and insects. Each mini-watershed can be controlled by the people who steward it. The result is that our collective actions restore our greater watersheds and cities.


FREE Sustainable Landscaping Workshops

Despite recent rainfall, San Diego County still faces challenges to save water, and urban run-off continues to be the primary source of ocean pollution. With this in mind, the Surfrider Foundation, and it’s contractor G3/Green Gardens Group, are holding courses to...

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Ocean Friendly Gardens Winter 2016

3 Reasons to Attend the Chapter Meeting Ocean Friendly Gardens is hosting the Surfrider Chapter Meeting this Thursday (Jan 21, 2016)! Pamela Berstler (G3 Managing Member)` will be giving us the low down on what it really takes to create an Ocean Friendly Garden. Learn...

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Ocean Friendly Workshops! Ocean Friendly Gardens Fall 2015

Learn How to Create an Ocean Friendly, Watershed Wise and Sustainable Garden! And more! Sustainable Landscapes Design Seminars Do you want to, or have you, stopped watering your lawn but don't know what to do next? Would you like to replace it with an attractive,...

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