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'

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Take a second to take the poll located in the upper right of this page!


Save a species, eat it

I thought this article was interesting.

Even though parts of it seem strange, like eating flying squirrel (bizzare). I believe it brings up a fascinating gardening aspect that I had not thought about before. There are so many varieties of fruits and vegetables that we are not exposed to because of the industrialization of the food industry. It is a really intriguing concept for me. I want to grow those weird Moon and Stars watermelon. How good do they look??

Pervious Concrete

If you are undergoing a transformation of your garden that includes walkways, stepping stones and/or patio's, check this out. Previous concrete has been around for years and is used in many commercial, industrial and residential applications. It is growing in popularity due to new EPA, State and City regulations concerning storm water and water management. I have attached a great site to entice your interest.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Although not the most attractive word in english, mulch is a good thing in your garden. Mulch helps improve water retention by creating a layer of insulation from the hot sun.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The "Green Factor"

Good news for advocates of green development. Seattle, WA becomes the first city to adapt a "green area ratio" or "green factor" as an effort to help sustainable living. This new ordinance will mandate that developers and designers find ways to implement more vegetation into there designs. The cities plan is modeled after similar programs in Berlin and Malmo, Sweden. Some options for designer and developers include vegetation walls, green roofs and rain-collection systems. Steve Moddemeyer, senior strategic advisor for the city's Department of Planning and Developing, says the green factor ratio requires landscaping to be "more than an aesthetic element. It actually is a functional part of an urban ecosystem." In addition, these policies have taken off and plans to build over $300 million mixed use projects are in the works.

Hopefully this trend will sweep the nation. Get involved in your local community and make a difference.

(ENR Magazine 3/10/08)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Intelligent Use of Water

I came across this interesting video (link below) while searching the interweb.  There isn't much to the rest of the site unless someone wants to submit a video. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Green Landscaping is an excellent way to save water and money!

The following is an excellent article we found online. A link appears at the bottom, since it has a related article on irrigation sources you may find interesting also.

Want to Save Water? Consider Green Landscaping

By Pat Mertz Esswein
Provided by

American yards have a drinking problem. for decades, we've bought into the aesthetic of the perpetually green lawn -- watered, fertilized and pest-free. And we've landscaped our yards with exotic plants that crave more water than the climate naturally supplies.

At 32 million acres, lawns are the largest irrigated crop in the U.S. We pamper them with one-third of all the residential water used daily (7 billion gallons); in some regions, it's as much as 50% to 70%. The thirst for water grows with the population and the increasing reliance on automatic irrigation -- which is so pervasive that it now produces summer water shortages even in relatively wet regions, such as the Pacific Northwest and New England.

Much of that water might just as well go down the drain -- and much of it does. Homeowners who find their irrigation system's controller as perplexing as a VCR rely on their lawn-maintenance company, which all too often sets it and forgets it. The system ends up running on an irrigation schedule meant only for the hottest, driest summer months. Sousing the lawn diminishes its health and creates a vicious cycle of fertilizing, applying pesticides and herbicides, and then watering some more. Meanwhile, utilities (including power companies, which provide the power for water treatment) struggle to keep up with demand.

April is a good time to initiate strategies that will save you money, time and labor and will do the environment some good -- without sacrificing an attractive yard. And green landscaping brings other benefits. In California, landscape designer Greg Rubin says he spends Sunday mornings on his own half-acre drinking coffee and enjoying the birds and butterflies attracted to his yard, while he listens to his neighbors mow their lawns. He has thrown away his bird feeders, too, because the native plants provide all the habitat and forage the birds need.

Xeriscape gardening for less-thirsty yards

The term xeriscaping may evoke images of the arid West and a bunch of rocks and cacti. Some call it zeroscaping, says Jim Knopf, author of WaterWise Landscaping With Trees, Shrubs and Vines: A Xeriscape Guide for the Rocky Mountain Region, California and Desert Southwest (Chamisa Books). But the strategy -- also known as water-wise gardening or greenscaping -- really involves minimizing the areas of your yard that need a lot of life support, he says.

In general, the transition to water-wise landscaping has two components. First, you need to rethink your lawn, focusing on the minimum size that fits your family's needs. Knopf says you can make your lawn smaller by simply putting in border gardens. You can also create gardens or mulched beds in areas that are difficult to maintain and water -- along fences, on steep slopes or in corners. If local home buyers expect a big backyard for kids and dogs to romp in, concentrate on the front yard.

The second task is to remove water-needy exotic plants and fill your beds with drought-tolerant trees, shrubs, ground cover, flowers and turf grass (such as buffalo and Bermuda). If you're loath to give up all your water-intensive exotics, gather them in one area, where you can quench their greater thirst most efficiently.

Your garden can be any style you like. Joanne Kostecky, a landscape designer in Allentown, Pa., and a past president of the American Nursery and Landscape Association, says she continues to design gardens that are lush, full and continuously blooming, but she now looks for hardier perennials that need less water to stay healthy.

It costs no more to install a water-wise landscape than a thirsty one, and it may cost substantially less, depending on the plants you choose and whether you avoid expensive automatic irrigation. While establishing any new landscape requires more water in the first year or so, a water-wise one will require less water from start to maturity -- about 20% to 50% less, with more savings if you do without an irrigation system.

In San Diego, where hefty water bills have hit homeowners hard, landscape designer Rubin specializes in native California landscapes that use 60% to 90% less water than nonnative plants. Rubin has seen residential water bills for 50,000 to 100,000 gallons a month, which he attributes to trying to sustain a Florida-like landscape -- two palm trees, some ice plants and a ton of lawn -- in a Mediterranean climate. "The cost might have been $200 to $400 a month before, but now it's $600 to $800 a month," says Rubin.

His strategy is to plant a "strong backbone" of evergreen plants that differ in color, texture and size, and place perennials along pathways so that they're easy to get to for pruning. The cost of installation is about the same as for a conventional landscape ($4 to $7 per square foot), he says, but his clients get a quick return on their investment because they save on water bills.

If your community imposes water restrictions, your plants might not grow as much as they would otherwise. But they won't die, either, and you'll spend less on replacements. Over the long run, all the costs associated with lawn maintenance will be lower than for a nonnative landscape. Plus, those border gardens will eventually shield your lawn from view when you don't feel like mowing it, says Knopf.

Before you start planting, check with your municipality or homeowners association to make sure you don't run afoul of restrictions on such things as grass height. In Colorado, Knopf says, it's illegal to prohibit xeriscaping. Your local government may even pay you to downsize your lawn. In Las Vegas, the Southern Nevada Water Authority rebates homeowners $1.50 per square foot of grass removed and replaced with xeriscape (up to 2,500 square feet annually).

Rainwater harvesting

Capturing rainwater is a smart way to give your landscaping a chlorine-free drink without paying municipal rates. A rainwater-harvesting system typically channels the water from the roof via your home's downspouts into a tank or cistern. A filtration device keeps out roof debris; in larger systems, a pump helps move water out of the tank.

In Austin, Tex., where rainfall averages 32 inches a year, a homeowner with a 2,500-square-foot roof could collect almost 45,000 gallons of rainwater in a typical year. In the Mid Atlantic states, a home with a 2,000-square-foot roof could collect 60,000 gallons.

The least-expensive system is a rain barrel, which holds 55 to 75 gallons and costs about $100. You can use just one, or link several together, as a gravity-fed source of drip irrigation for nearby flower beds. Rain barrels are usually made of plastic, and they come with an overflow spout, a valve near the bottom for filling your watering can and a screened lid to keep mosquitoes out. You can also prevent mosquitoes, which need six to nine days in standing water to mature, by regularly tapping the barrel. Many cities, such as Austin, Seattle, and Cary, N.C., sell barrels at a discount. You can also purchase them from nursery and garden retailers or from online sources, such as www.rainsaverusa.com.

To meet larger-scale needs -- such as supplementing your lawn's irrigation system, creating a fire-protection reserve or even using captured rainwater indoors (which requires more-careful filtration and treatment) -- you may need a storage tank, above or below ground, that holds thousands of gallons. Contact a specialist who can help you analyze your situation, supply and install the system, and help you maintain it. (To locate a specialist, go to the site of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association or www.harvesth2o.com.) Atlanta Water Conservation advertises complete above-ground systems for $1,500 to $7,500 and below-ground systems for $5,000 to $10,000. In Texas, Rain Catchment Systems says that it averages $1 per gallon of capacity for design, materials and installation. (For a guide to rainwater harvesting, visit the Web site of Texas A&M University's office of cooperative extension.)

Some cities offer rebates for installing such systems (Austin gives home-owners up to $500 toward the cost of installing one that handles more than 300 gallons). But you may need a permit first. In Colorado, for example, capturing rainfall (even in a rain barrel) is prohibited. And water-conservation expert Amy Vickers, in Amherst, Mass., worries that well-meaning harvesters who go gung-ho providing for household use may further disrupt the natural process of groundwater recharging and contribute to the low-flow problems of creeks and rivers.

A rain garden

Runoff is another aspect of the water-conservation problem. Because plots are often compacted and scraped clean of topsoil during development, they're less absorbent to start with -- and turf grasses absorb less water than other kinds of vegetation. Water sluices off our yards into our basements or onto neighbors' yards; into our watersheds, polluting drinking water at its source; and into municipal storm drains, increasing the load on water-treatment plants.

A cost-effective solution for most people is a rain garden -- a shallow depression lined with trees, shrubs and plants that mind neither drought nor inundation, cope well with the heavy nutrients in storm-water runoff and absorb many times the amount of water that turf grasses do. A rain garden will capture the rainwater and allow it to percolate into the ground, where it will recharge streams, aquifers and wells, says Dick Peterson, of Austin Energy's Green-Building program. It's an attractive alternative if your municipality would otherwise require a more industrial solution, such as a gravel pit or catch basin, to offset runoff from driveways or patios.

A rain garden is perfect for a low spot in your yard where water naturally collects. Or, if your yard is flat, you can excavate one or enhance it with a berm. Ideally, the garden sits close to the primary source of runoff but no closer than 10 feet to your house (so that you don't end up with a wet basement).

The cost to create a rain garden averages about $3 to $4 per square foot. How much you pay depends on the size and depth of the garden, whether you must replace or supplement local soils, whether the site needs an underdrain (a perforated pipe), your choice of plants, and how much you do yourself. For an overview of rain gardens, with a list of recommended plants by region, visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and search for "rain gardens + wetlands."

Some cities have begun offering homeowners incentives to take storm-water remediation measures. Portland, Ore., discounts residents' storm-water management fees in exchange for runoff solutions on their property, and in some areas, the city pays an incentive if residents disconnect their downspouts from storm sewers. Seattle is developing a plan for incentives to help protect water quality and the salmon run.

Full story appears here with related links:


Emit Over Mowing

According to the EPA approximately 5% of the Nations Air Pollution is created from mowing our lawns. Millions of Americans tend to there lawns and gardens each weekend with all types of gas powered gadgets. A rough estimate is that over 800 million gallons of gas per year is used to maintain our yards. Until recently the emissions from the machines where unregulated and emit high levels of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide. In addition, large amount of gas and oil are spilled during refills. It is estimated that in a one hour time period a conventional lawn mower can produce the same amount of pollutants as a 100 mile trip in your late model vehicle.

Electric mowers and trimmers are one alternative. There are also many types of adapter kits that you can use to reduce your emissions on older equipment. Proper planning during initial and redesigned landscapes can also be a big bonus for both the environment and your wallet. By planting less grass and more native plants that are adapted to your local Ecosystem, you can reduce emission, time spent on maintenance and a great reduction in water use.

I have attached a website that can help you calculate the amount of air pollution your mower produces. There are many sites available and I randomly stubble across this one.


First Commercial Green Roof in San Diego

The first commercial green roof has been installed in San Diego. The green roofs are really a good way to reduce run-off. It comes with a hefty price tag and the building codes are not established in California. I think we will start to see more of these.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Artificial Lawns & Our Environment

There are many ways to conserve water, reduce emissions and toxins in your local Eco system. After doing a little research and encountering many positive and negative aspect of a synthetic lawns, I felt it necessary to let you decide. Each year a typical residential lawn can use more than 65% of the total household water use. A synthetic lawn is one viable option to reducing residential and commercial water use.

Synthetic lawns have been around for over 50 years. I'm sure that most of you have heard the term artificial turf while watching a Sunday NFL game. Today's turfs have made some revolutionary advancements into our everyday lives. No maintenance is great because it means a drastic reduction of fertilizers and pesticides that enter our aquifers and local drainage system. It also means no more over watering that can lead to soil degradation from erosion. Topsoil needs to stay at home where it belongs.

The cost of these turfs very widely depending upon lifespan and aesthetic appearance. The cost of a large yard may not be economically wise. This does not mean that there might be a feassable location for artificial turf.

Now the downside of things.

Most artificial turfs are a polypropylene/ polyethylene monofilament ribbon file product, an oil refining by-product, requiring significant resources in its manufacture, including water to form and cool. They also can become hotter than natural grass in areas that receive large amounts of sunlight. Materials such as leaves and feces, will not decompose as quickly on plastics as natural grass. This means that there is some amount of maintenance required to keep the lawn both tidy and sanitary. A major concern of mine is that there are only a few locations that will recycle a sythetic lawns. Another down side is that natural grass converts carbon dioxide to oxygen through photosynthesis.

So is this a good option for you and the environment?

A few things that you can do is survey your property. Are there areas that require large amounts of fertilizer or watering? Are there large shaded areas where grass just wont grow? Are the small areas that are difficult to maintain? Can I use alternate landscape in these areas? Will an organic pesticides and fertilizers work for my lawn? These are just a few questions to ask yourself when considering a synthetic lawns.

There are a number of products on the market and website that offer valuable information. Be sure to ask questions and become informed.

Presentation this Monday at Balboa Park

Tim Bombardier, a senior water resources specialist from the San Diego County Water Authority is giving a talk on Monday about alternative water sources and conservation methods. The Water Authority, founded in 1944, is a member of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and supplies water to 24 agencies in the San Diego Region

Talk will be held at 12:30 pm on Monday, April 7 at the Reuben H Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado in Balboa Park. Admission is $6-$8. Contact # is 619 238 1233.

With a schedule that will make it difficult for many interested people to attend, it may be worth discovering if the talk will be recorded or broadcast.


You Grow Girls - Landscape Design

Local landscape designers, Kim DeGraw and Kari Bittner owners of You Grow Girls Landscape Design and Consulting are working to transform residential landscapes in North San Diego County into environmentally friendly extensions of living and entertainment spaces.

“Living and working along the coast comes with a responsibility to understand the impact of landscape construction and maintenance practices. The real estate boom has drastically increased the number of homes and residents in this coastal community, increasing the amount of pressure on our global system.” San Diego County provides a climate tailored for outdoor living, but many homeowners can be intimidated by making the decision to tackle landscaping their homes. From consultations to construction applications, You Grow Girls is committed to promoting a healthier lifestyle and educating their clients on the benefits of understanding their landscape investment.

Every successful project starts with a plan. A design and plan are essential in developing a functional, aesthetically pleasing and welcoming extension of indoor living. You Grow Girls landscape design is based on the artistic merits of line, color, movement, and sensory stimulation throughout your space. Focus on unity and balance will maintain a consistent style or theme while avoiding unnecessary detail and expense.

Landscaped yards provide a solution to the serious environmental impact of erosion. Erosion control is accomplished with the addition of vegetation that absorbs soil and water run off. “Mulching is also an effective strategy to retain water by slowing evaporation as well as control sediment that may be transported by winds or rains.” In addition to the time taken to carefully and thoughtfully layout a project design, You Grow Girls is partnering with organic retailers and local organic product manufactures to promote natural landscaping and gardening practices. “More than using organic fertilizers and amendments, it is important we also use and incorporate local and recycled construction materials into our designs when possible to minimize fuel usage and manufacturing by-product excess, reducing the overall impact on our environment.” Combining their expertise with a clients’ vision, landscapes can be transformed into functional eco, people and pet friendly living and entertainment spaces.

Every project You Grow Girls designs is completed by the presentation of a maintenance manual detailing pruning, fertilizing, pest control and water application practices free of charge! Serious about their commitment to educate their clients throughout the entire design and planning process, Kim and Kari are going the extra mile to put residents of San Diego County at ease about initiating their landscape project. By introducing their clients to their local landscape trade partners they encourage and promote healthy relationships.

Educated in horticulture and landscape design Kim and Kari work intently on growing environments that are environmentally responsible as well as functional. They have worked for the nations 5th largest landscape development company as project managers and consultants, installing model home landscape designs, HOA slopes and community entries, park-sites and City of San Diego streetscapes. Unlike many designers and architects, these girls have experience from the office to the construction site. With this valuable insight, they are able to provide clients with an accurate assessment of cost and construction timeline.

“Our passion for landscape design, plants, and floral arranging inspires us to engage our community in the fascinating world of garden and design. Plant life is essential to the health and happiness of our environment as well as our being.”

You Grow Girls Landscape Design and Consulting is based in Encinitas CA.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Changed Template

If you haven't figured it out yet, I have just changed the template from the black one . It was getting on my nerves. Let me know what you think about the new one! email

Borrego Springs - not immune

Check out this article in the UT by Mike Lee.

Aquifer is drying up Borrego Springs

One thing that I found interesting was that golf courses account for 20% of all their water use. That is a lot of water! I wonder what percentage of San Diego's water is used by golf courses? Something we should look into....volunteers?