Ventura County

all drains lead to the ocean

Saving water and preventing urban runoff begins in our own backyards.

Ocean Friendly Gardens

The Ocean Friendly Gardens program sees landscapes and streets as solutions to water pollution. Ocean Friendly Gardens standards use this simple approach:

  • contour landscapes for rainwater retention;
  • create living soil to sponge up water;
  • filter pollution and sequester carbon;
  • and install climate-appropriate plants to create wildlife habitat and a sense of place.


Conserve water, energy, and wildlife habitat by using native and climate-appropriate plants.


Allow air and water to percolate downwards. Healthy soil, mulch, and limited hardscape sponge up water.


Retain water in the ground, not in the streets. Direct rain gutters into low areas in the yard and create curb cuts to capture street flow.

Tour Ocean Friendly Gardens in Los Angeles with Paul Herzog.

What’s the problem?

From unnecessarily treating our gardens and lawns with chemical fertilizers and pesticides to applying too much water, we’re killing all the beneficial life in our soils thats support beautiful and healthy plants, and creating polluted runoff. Landscaping chemicals don’t stay where they are applied, but instead can leach into groundwater or be washed away by runoff when it rains or when misdirected irrigation runs off our properties. The resulting stormwater and road runoff pollutes local waterways and harms coastal ecosystems by causing harmful algal blooms and killing fish and other aquatic animals. Water affected by runoff is dangerous to swim and play in.

What’s the solution?

The best way to protect clean water is through a more natural landscape that supports a diversity of native plants, and mimics and supports nature rather than altering and harming it. Instead of maintaining water-thirsty turf lawns and adding chemicals to force them to be green, you can take steps to make your yard an Ocean Friendly Garden.

Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFGs) act like a sponge in your landscape. These gardens are shaped in a natural way to capture rain and runoff, contain native, climate-appropriate plants and healthy, living soil which soaks up, stores and filters out pollutants from stormwater and road runoff.  OFGs also provide native habitat for bees, birds, and butterflies, and can even help mitigate climate change as healthy plants and soil work in combination to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere.

Do you live in the City of Ventura? Click here to download a free voucher for a rain barrel collector courtesy off the Ventura Environmental Sustainability Department


Program Criteria

Benefits of Healthy Soils and Ocean Friendly Gardens

Toolkits and Online Tools


Signs, Brochures, and Educational Resources

  • To order an Ocean Friendly Garden Sign, please email Lindsey Koning,

Guidelines and How To’s
Prevent stormwater pollution with Ocean Friendly Gardens: Local TV show Sustainable Ventura interviews Paul Herzog

Surfrider is a Promotional Partner for the U.S. E.P.A.’s WaterSense Program.

Volunteer with us! Email for information on upcoming events!

The OFG committee typically holds monthly meetings on the third Thursday of the month from 6:30–8 p.m. at the Surfrider office at 872 E. Front St., Ventura, CA 93001. If you’re interested in attending, please call (805)796-8558 to confirm.

View all national Ocean Friendly Gardens below. Find your community!