Ocean Friendly Gardens

Approximately half of all residential water use in California is for outdoor purposes—and, of that, the majority is used for watering lawns and gardens.  In total approximately 1,300,000 acre feet of water is used for watering lawns and gardens; enough to cover the entire County of Los Angeles with six inches of water.  Producing, transporting, treating and delivering that water requires a significant amount of energy.  In a state that had below-normal precipitation in 8 of the last 10 years (including a 3-year drought), can using such significant amounts of water (and related energy) in this manner be considered sustainable?

New technologies and approaches allow for greater efficiency of outdoor irrigation.  Options range from high efficiency nozzle replacements on sprinklers to weather sensing irrigation controllers.   Meanwhile, some have suggested outright replacement of grass with synthetic turf.  However, one option stands out for not only reducing water use but also adding to the property values of California homes, while at the same time reducing ocean pollution: ocean friendly gardens (sometimes referred to as xeriscaping).

Ocean friendly gardens utilize drought resistant California native plants in plots that are designed to capture home stormwater runoff.  They require little, if any, irrigation.  Water is supplied to the gardens by rerouting downspouts that would normally send rainwater to the streets or sewer systems—water that would otherwise wash pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and oil into California’s rivers and ultimately pollute our oceans and beaches.  Ocean friendly gardens are specially designed to retain the influx of storm water and achieve near-zero runoff.  Contours and dry creek beds built into the landscapes retain water, allowing it to percolate into the ground.

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