OFG meets the 4th Tuesday of every month.

All of our blog posts are now done through our Surfrider chapter website at
http://sandiego.surfrider.org/programs/ocean-friendly-gardens You can also visit our Facebook page at 'Ocean Friendly Gardens - San Diego'

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

At What Cost?

Ever wondered what the actual costs are to replace a traditional non-native landscape with a sustainable native landscape?

This great article takes you step by step through the cost benefit analysis of replacing a San Jose area business park's traditional landscape with drought tolerant native plantings.

Lots of great and practical info on natives as well as the process of converting your landscape!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunset Cliffs Drainage

A big part of Ocean Friendly Gardens is CPR: Conservation, Permeability and Retention. Here, we wanted to focus on the Permeability and Retention. Throughout most of Southern California the 'old school' thinking was that we need to get rid of all of the storm water from homes, parking lots, etc. rather than finding ways to let it soak in to help replenish and recharge local aquifers, support native plants, etc.

The area around Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is no exception. A large residential area is above the linear or norther section while Point Loma Nazarene University surrounds the hilltop or southern section of the park. Both have accelerated runoff, pollution and erosion in the park over the years. Currently the City of San Diego is working with the Sunset Cliffs Natural Park Council to develop a drainage plan for the area.

Recently, Surfrider was able to document some of the drainage issues and we look forward to being involved in the drainage project. Click Here for more photos.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Conservation is seen as key to dealing with state's water woes

Article in the LA Times: "The reason is simple. Compared to building new reservoirs, recycling or seawater desalination, conservation is one of the cheapest, quickest and least environmentally damaging ways for the state to get more water."


Friday, November 6, 2009

Green your garden by removing your lawn

Lawns may be green but they are less than eco-friendly and definitely aren't ocean friendly.

The urban sprawl of Southern California has turned it from an arid myriad of plant and animal species into a vast monoculture of emerald green turf, gobbling up water and requiring tons of chemical beauty enhancers to maintain its verdant luster. According to several SoCal water districts and other sources up to 70% of potable water use goes toward landscape use...it wouldn't be far off to guess that lawn takes up the major share of that.

But the price we pay for these lush landscapes goes far beyond rising water rates; the fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals required to keeps lawns green don't stay in our landscapes. They wash into our watersheds, eventually ending up in reservoirs and the ocean, creating massive algae blooms and countless other health problems for native wildlife and humans. Gas mowers and blowers used for lawn maintenance pollute our air not to mention the carbon footprint of the dozens of diesel pumps required to move the majority of our water here from the Colorado River or Northern California. Possibly saddest of all, a vast array of our native birds, butterflies, and other wildlife are left homeless and without food when their habitat is replaced by lawn.

The good news is that by removing your lawn you are left with a blank canvas on which you can create a lush and unique Ocean Fiendly Garden full of native plants and grasses, artistic features, and, best of all, life!

The photos above show a lawn recently turned turned OFG (along with a few other upgrades) at a residence near Long Beach. His brother is now installing his own OFG a few blocks away!

For more interesting facts about the United States' obsession with lawns check out this article:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Las Pilitas Nursery - Check it out!

I have heard over and over that Las Pilitas Nursery is the best place to get native plants in San Diego County. Although nearly all nurseries carry natives, Las Pilitas has the largest selection and the largest plants available.

Check it out!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Fish vs. Lawns, not North vs. South


NY Times
Published: October 17, 2009

Anyone who has flown in an airplane above California’s vast Central Valley has seen them: two canals snaking north to south, carrying Sierra Nevada snowmelt to thirsty farms and cities via the sprawling Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Northern California natives are raised to scowl at these channels and the supposedly rapacious, wasteful, environmentally insensitive Southern Californians they supply.

But the federal government’s Central Valley Project and the California Aqueduct are not the only straws sucking water from the Delta or diverting the Sierra’s liquid bounty from its natural path to the sea.

Residents of seven of the nine Bay Area counties — all but Sonoma and Marin — draw much of their water from the same source. On their behalf, rivers have been dammed and majestic gorges inundated. To keep them in showers and sprinklers, hundreds of miles of pipeline has been built to move water around or from the Delta, which scientists say has been pushed to the brink of ecological collapse.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders have been haggling behind closed doors for months seeking a historic agreement to make California’s water supply more reliable while restoring and preserving the Delta and its wildlife habitat. Some in the Bay Area fear that the true aim of these talks is to allow construction of a new canal to send still more water south for farmers to grow crops in the desert and Angelenos to fill their pools and wash their BMWs.

But Bay Area interests have been fighting as hard as anyone to protect their right to pull water from the Delta and the rivers that feed it.

It is no accident that a key player in the water talks is State Senator Joe Simitian,. a Democrat from Palo Alto. He represents the Silicon Valley, where the pharmaceutical and computer chip industries depend on a reliable supply of clean water for their research, development and manufacturing. They are working feverishly to guard the valley’s supply.

“Historically, people have characterized this as a north-south issue,” Mr. Simitian said last week in an interview. “But the fact of the matter is a significant portion of the water for the district I represent comes right out of the Delta.”

Or, as the Senate leader, Darrell Steinberg, put it: “The whole Northern California versus Southern California frame is so 1980s. It’s different now.”

Indeed, Mr. Steinberg laments he has spent too much time lately fending off attacks from the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Unless you pay your monthly water bill to this agency known as East Bay MUD, you have probably never heard of it. It serves 1.3 million thirsty customers. Eighty years ago, the district built a dam on the Mokelumne River in the Sierra foothills, creating Pardee Reservoir, then built the 90-mile Mokelumne Aqueduct to carry its captured Sierra runoff. Now the district is contemplating a big expansion that would inundate a scenic section of the river to serve future growth.

Just like the water that goes south to Los Angeles, the water that residents drink in Oakland, Berkeley and Walnut Creek would flow into the Delta and help to keep fish alive had it not been diverted. The same is true of San Francisco, which blocked the Tuolumne River nearly 100 years ago, filled Hetch Hetchy Valley and uses the water for itself and cities on the Peninsula.
A key issue in this fight is whether Bay Area residents from San Francisco to Fremont should give up some water to preserve the Delta’s ecosystem. Randy Kanouse, a Sacramento lobbyist who represents East Bay MUD, says that if that happens, more water rationing will surely follow.
“When you make conservation a permanent way of life and all of your customers take the waste out of their household and business use,” Mr. Kanouse said, “there’s no more excess water they can give up. Consumers will have to let their lawns die, their landscapes die, and business customers will have to cut production. If the Mokelumne River has to have more water kept in the river to flow into the Delta, it’s a virtual certainty that rationing will be more frequent and deeper than it is today.”

Forgive Mr. Kanouse if he sounds like a thirsty Southern Californian. He, too, has water interests to protect. Yes, this fight might be part north versus south. But there is a western front that extends all the way to the Golden Gate.

Daniel Weintraub has reported on California politics and policy for more than 20 years.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Water Harvesting Open House - Sunday, October 25

Water Harvesting Open House
Sunday, October 25
10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
In Talmadge - RSVP for address brook@h2o-me.com

Come see water harvesting in action! Guided by Water Harvesting Professional and Permaculturist, Brook Sarson, you'll see how a 1320 gallon rainwater tank combined with laundry greywater and bath greywater work together to grow a garden of edibles using only 1/4 of the water that most San Diegans use each day.

As you tour this urban farm setting, you'll see natural building techniques including a cob chicken coop, decorative benches as well as an earth pizza oven. Brook will be on-hand to talk to you about solutions for your space and how you can make a difference during San Diego's water crisis and beyond.

Please feel free to arrive at any time during the open house to learn about simple greywater systems, do-it-yourself options, rainwater-harvesting systems, resources, or schedule an appointment with Brook to assess greywater opportunities at your site.

Suggested donation of $5 will go toward supporting water activism in San Diego.

Please RSVP to Brook at brook@h2o-me.com or call 619.964.4838 for the address.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I Killed My Lawn. Ask Me How.

Recently, I saw someone driving through my neighborhood with an "I Killed My Lawn. Ask Me How." bumper sticker. After some further research, I found out the bumper stickers are available from the Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano.

They also offer "Replacing Your Lawn with Native Plants" workshops throughout the year.

More information is available at Kill your lawn!

Water Smart Gardening Festival - November 14

The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College is sponsoring a Water Smart Gardening Festival on Saturday, November 14, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.

There will be a drought tolerant plant sale, free landscape design consultations, water smart gardeners, master gardeners, and presentations on drought tolerant garden design, plants and irrigation. Free admission and parking.

For more information, please visit The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College web site or view the event flyer.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Coastal Factoid: We can all help minimize the problem of storm water runoff by planting rain gardens

"We can all help minimize the problem of storm water runoff by planting rain gardens -- 6 to 12-inch-deep depressions filled with native plants. ...The square footage of your rain garden should generally be about 20 percent that of the area draining into it. For example, if your roof covers 800 square feet, a rain garden designed to collect all of the roof's runoff should cover 160 square feet. To capture runoff most efficiently, a rain garden should be longer than it is wide, and aligned perpendicular to the slope." - from the Greentips April 2009 online newsletter of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Also see Surfrider's Ocean Friendly Gardens web section.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Garden attendance grows with visitors interested in drought-tolerant landscaping ideas

The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College is simply amazing and a beacon of hope in our highly populated slice of semi-arid desert.

From Sign On San Diego:

The garden at Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego has been seeing a 69 percent increase in visitors since July as more San Diego County residents seek ways to make their backyards more drought-tolerant, said Executive Director Marty Eberhardt.

“San Diego is going to have to change its whole look,” she said. “It's not something we need to be afraid of. It's something we can embrace.”

It's the only water conservation garden in San Diego County and has received national recognition as a pioneer extolling water conservation in the Western United States.

Cheers to the Water Conservation Garden!

Click Here for the full signonsandiego.com story.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cindy's OFG

"My Ocean Friendly Garden (aka OFG) is far from complete but is almost there. OFG has already solved the flooding problem and no more muddy water flowing down the driveway is better for the environment. It's 90% planted with either drought tolerant plants or California Native Plants which has saved a lot of $ on water...

To get ideas for plants in my OFG I often visit nature centers, preserves or go hiking and find the plants growing in their native habitat...

Since planting my yard with California native plants I've noticed a number of different butterflies and hummingbirds plus many other birds I haven't seen in my yard before. Birds I've identified so far are house finches, scrub jays, acorn woodpecker, black phoebes, morning dove, mocking bird. I've noticed many of the same birds you find hidding in coastal scrub such as white crowned sparrow, red winged blackbirds and some others..."

Click Here for the full story with a step-by-step description and great details on what types of native and drought-tolerant plants were used. Nice work Cindy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Obama's Organic Garden

The Obama Family is planting an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House tomorrow. The garden will consist of 55 different kinds of organic vegetables and two hives of honey. The White House chefs plan on incorporating the organic produce in the first family's meals.

"The White House appears to be casting the garden as just another strategy to encourage healthful eating."


Efficient Ways to Keep Your Yard Healthy

This article by Planet Green offers a few tips to keep your lawn and garden healthy through a drought. By mulching flower beds and only watering before 9:00am, the normal household can reduce their water use drastically.

"If you can easily jab a 6 inch screwdriver into your lawn, you can wait a week before watering."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Make Your Landscaping More Water-Wise

Courtesy of the Water Conservation Garden and KPBS.

Brian had a great quote at the Core Volunteer Training last night: "California is beautiful as it is so we should use more native plants" Ok, so maybe I did not quote him exactly, but that was the message for sure. Not only do native plants help save water, they can also look good (Califonia poppy) and smell great (various types of sage).

Click Here
for the video and full story.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

San Diegans Deciding to Remove Their Lawns

Many San Diegans are making the big decision to tear up their lawns and replace them with drought resistant gardens. The Rightmyer family is hoping to cut their water use by more than 20% by just replacing their lawn. Just in California lawns soak up about 1.5 million acre-feet of water per year – equal to the amount used by 3 million typical homes.

"Californians should end their love affair with lawns, said water officials, lawmakers, conservationists and landscapers."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Local Plantscaping Business Using Green Roofing

Jim Mumford owns a plantscaping business in Kearny Mesa. He installed a Green Roof on his building in Kearny Mesa two years ago. The Green Roof has helped with energy conservation and has created a wildlife habitat in an industrial area.

Here is link to his website.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

La nina spells further drought

Experts say that a "la nina" weather pattern will dominate this winter....

A "La Nina" weather pattern is characterized by colder than usual temperatures (NOAA description). This creates a high pressure system that sits off of Southern California and redirects storms northward.

The result.....drought conditions.

Although we have had record rainfall in December and January, experts are calling for a drought. Therefore, our water deficit will continue and we need to continue conserving water in our yards and gardens.

Come by the next Ocean Friendly Gardens meeting to learn methods on how to conserve water and reduce urban run-off!!

Email me and I will put you on the email list....

email: bbowman@surfridersd.org