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Ocean Friendly Gardens

Surfrider’s Ocean Friendly Garden's Program 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.

The Ocean-Friendly Approach

The goal of our Ocean Friendly Gardens program is to reduce runoff from our island cities and prevent it from contaminating the Atlantic and Florida Bay. 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 recharge our groundwater supply.

What Is "Ocean-Friendly?"

Urban runoff from lawns, gardens, streets and hardscape is the #1 source of ocean pollution.

 One inch of rain falling on the roof of an average sized single family home can generate over 1,200 gallons of runoff. As this runoff travels through our urban landscape it picks up pollutants and bacteria that cause 20,000+ beach closures + advisories nationwide every year.

To mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff and replenish groundwater supply the Ocean Friendly Gardens program applies the principles of Conservation, Permeability, and Retention (CPR).

  • Conservation of water, energy and wildlife habitat through native and climate resilient plants.
  • Permeability fostered by using materials that allow water to slow and sink into healthy, living soil.
  • Retention of rainwater for reuse and groundwater recharge, preventing polluted runoff.

Pollutants and bacteria from runoff cause 20,000+ beach closures and advisories nationwide every year.

Water management issues are directly linked to the problems we’re facing in our oceans and at our beaches.

Check out Surfrider’s Cycle of Insanity to learn about how our actions at home affect the entire watershed. While the video was made years ago, it couldn't be more relevant today as we face the same issues we were taking on back in 2015.

Easy Steps to Make Your Yard More Ocean-Friendly!

  • Go organic. Say no to chemical fertilizers and pesticides! Landscaping chemicals often leak into local waterways through groundwater and runoff.
  • Compost. Use kitchen scraps and green waste from your yard. Composting reduces food waste and prevents the release methane from our landfills, helping to reduce local impacts of climate change. Here are some easy-to-follow instructions for getting started:
  • Go Native. Native plants and grasses are well suited to your local climate and don’t need supplemental irrigation when they are fully-grown!
  • Plant a vegetable garden.  Grow your own food and make less trips to the grocery store. It’s still not too late to start your seeds in many growing zones.
  • Shape your yard. Create contours in your landscape to capture, slow down and soak up rain, or consider installing a rain barrel.

Resources and Tools 

We're collecting valuable and easy-to-use tools for volunteers and garden owners. Have something to add to this list? Shoot an email and we'll review.

Benefits of Healthy Soils and Ocean Friendly Gardens

Signs, Brochures, and Educational Resources

Local Resources