Stormwater and urban runoff is the #1 source of beach closures and swim advisories. This runoff pollutes our beaches and coastal waterways with bacteria, chemicals, trash, and other debris. Severe flooding can cause sewage infrastructure failures, making recreational waters unsafe for human contact. Inadequate wastewater treatment and traditional landscaping practices that depend on chemicals are also wreaking havoc on coastal and freshwater ecosystems by overloading waterways with nutrients, fueling toxic algae blooms and harming coral reef habitat.
Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) are a natural solution to the problems caused by stormwater and urban runoff. Our chapter’s OFG program is a volunteer-run sustainable landscaping and education program that provides beautiful, inexpensive ways to care for our yards impacting the health of our local waterways and ocean. By applying conservation, permeability and retention (CPR), OFG allow soil to act like a sponge to help restore the helpful functions of watersheds, preventing pollution from reaching the ocean, reducing flooding during storms, pulling carbon from the air and into plants and soil, and creating wildlife habitats.
Take steps to start your own OFG by plantings native, climate-appropriate plants that absorb rainwater, reduce runoff and filter runoff before it can pollute. Start using organic fertilizers and pesticides (you can make your own). Apply mulch and compost to build healthy living soil. Reduce the size of your lawn by swapping out turf grass with OFG. Direct rain gutters and downspouts into your landscaping to slow down and sponge up rain.
Check out our chapter’s OFG Locations: Satellite Beach City Hall; Green Gables off US1; Unitarian Universalist Church of Brevard in West Melbourne.
Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram for future planting locations, dates and times. Bring your shovels, buckets, and gloves.