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Ocean Friendly Gardens

by Zac Sheffer April 8th, 2011 | Landscaping

As someone who lived in Southern California for most of his life, I, like most people, am forgetful that California is a desert.  The conservation of water is something that gets overlooked every day. However, with simple changes to your garden, such as planting plants native to your region and making sure your sprinkling heads are functioning properly, residents can reduced home landscape water use by 42 gallons per day.

Another issue often overlooked is runoff. In some areas after a big rain, the city puts up signs at the bays and oceans advising people not to swim because of the poor water quality. Run off is a serious problem and has long term effects on our oceans, such as red tides, high levels of bacteria making it dangerous to swim, and reducing the clarity of the water.  It also has negative effects on animal populations, such as trash and debris polluting the water and oils, toxins, and fertilizer poisoning the fish and other animals that make the ocean there home.

With this in mind, ocean friendly gardens (OFGs) are great way to improve the aesthetics and functionality of any home. One method to create an OFG is by adjusting the runoff from homes to make it more efficient. For example, adding stones and grass strips to the driveway. By creating an infiltration trench underneath, the strips’ water will be diverted towards the side. It is popular to lead the strips into a retention basin where water can collect or run to other parts of the lawn. With this simple method the driveway looks more appealing and will also drastically reduce water from running down to the drain.

Be sure to think about an alternative to a lawn when doing landscaping work. Lawns require a lot of upkeep, both time and money. One alternative is rocks, like decomposed granite that has a light brown appearance and can absorb most rainwater and runoff. If stuck on the idea of lawn, use a local species that is capable of surviving the temperature highs and lows without additional upkeep. For example, the fescue plant gives a lawn-like appearance but requires incredibly low maintenance and can be combined with traditional grass in areas if desired.

Overall, the concept of landscaping to create an OFG is about increasing the efficiency of your garden while also decreasing the environmental effects and upkeep. If interested in learning more about creating your own Ocean Friendly Garden take look at the Surfrider Foundation’s webpage.

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