Newport Beach Chapter

Ocean Friendly Gardens

Urban runoff from gardens and hard surfaces is the #1 source of ocean pollution. In that runoff are pollutants such as:

  • Synthetic fertilizers – increased nutrients leads to algal blooms and red tides, lowering dissolved oxygen levels enough to kill aquatic habitat and fisheries.
  • Pesticides, herbicides and fungicides – poison humans, marine life and soil biology.
  • Automobile engine oil, exhaust and brake pad dust as well as exhaust from utilities– poison marine life.
  • Bacteria from animal poop – sicken humans and marine life, and can close beaches.
  • Sediment (soil) – reduces clarity.

The first one inch of rain after a dry spell is called the “first flush,” and contains most of the pollutants during a rainstorm. Traditional building codes have directed rainwater off the property to prevent flooding of a site. But this runoff contributes to flooding of neighborhoods and erosion of stream banks. Runoff also happens during dry periods, known as dry-weather runoff, with sprinklers overwatering and overshooting the landscape.

But gardens and hard surfaces can prevent runoff and flooding, and still be beautiful, resourceful, and wildlife-friendly. How? Apply CPR to your property – Conservation, Permeability and Retention © – to revive our watersheds and oceans:

  • Conservation of water, energy, and habitat through native plants and climate adapted plants, spaced for mature growth (the same applies to vegetable and fruit gardens).
  • Permeability through the mulch and biologically active soil as well as using permeable materials for – or making cuts in existing – driveways, walkways, and patios that allow water to percolate into the soil.
  • Retention devices like rain chains, rain barrels and swales/dry stream beds soak up rainwater in the soil for the dry season or store it to water veggies, preventing it from running off of the property.

For more information please contact Emily at