Suncoast Chapter

Ocean Friendly Gardens

The Ocean Friendly Gardens program (OFG) sees landscapes and streets as solutions to water pollution – and more. OFG standards use this simple approach everywhere possible: contouring landscapes for rainwater retention; creating living soil to sponge up water, filter pollution and sequester carbon; and installing climate-appropriate plants to create wildlife habitat and a sense of place

What is an Ocean Friendly Garden?

The Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program is Surfrider Foundation’s 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, Surfrider chapters are using this program to encourage landscape professionals to incorporate the program’s principles into their business practices. Chapters also use the program to motivate local governments to support OFG-oriented policy changes for existing and new development.

Why have an Ocean Friendly Garden? 

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 during storm events, pull carbon from the air and into plants and soil, and create wildlife habitat (above is a typical OFG and below is a curb cut flowing into a bio-swale).

Providing solutions to Harmful Algal Blooms

The Surfrider Foundation Suncoast Chapter has teamed up with the Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association and Wilcox Nursery & Landscape Design to transform a neighborhood in St. Petersburg, Florida into an Ocean Friendly Garden landscape. 

This project involved replacing 38 small plots of turf grass that lie between the sidewalk and the street with native plants and mulch to help soak up stormwater runoff. Besides adding beauty to the neighborhood, the native plants will thrive without the addition of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that pollute local waterways and are too often used in conventional landscaping practices. The native plants will also provide much-needed habitat for bees and other pollinators. The resulting healthy soils that will be nurtured in these OFG plots will also help capture carbon from the air and store it below ground to help reduce the impacts of climate change. Watch this short video that documents the transformation of approximately 400 square feet of turf grass along the Crescent Heights roadside into beautiful Ocean Friendly Gardens: 

Great, so what is a Florida Native? 

Native plants are often a good bet for the Florida gardener. A wide range variety could work in your landscape, from vines and groundcovers to shrubs, trees, and palms. Many can serve as good sources of food for wildlife.

Some popular natives in Florida include beautyberry, muhly grass, coontie, and Southern magnolia. Any of these sound familiar? You’ve probably seen them in your neighbors’ landscapes or have them your own.

Click here to find Native Plants that are right for your yard: https://www.fnps.org/plants

How you can help

Interested in getting involved? Follow us on Facebook for upcoming ways to support or contact our chapter at chair@suncoast.surfrider.org