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Ocean Friendly Gardens

Help us build the Ocean Friendly Gardens program in Santa Cruz County!

What parts of this program would you like to see develop? Want to participate in gardenscaping days? Workshops? Contact our volunteer resources at to get started and make an impact in our community!

Love our ocean, gardening and a healthy local ecosystem? Save some green (money wise and garden wise) and keep your landscape every shade of the rainbow with healthy, interesting, native and diverse plants for your garden. Follow the three principles of ocean friendly gardening to save water and other resources and help prevent dry and wet-weather runoff from your property that would end up in the ocean:


Reduce (1) water use (2) fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide use (3) energy use and (4) air pollution by mulching and composting and by choosing the appropriate plants and watering schedules.

Visit Santa Cruz County’s Water Smart website: to learn more about the local rebate programs, local events on how to be water smart and find gardening tips.

Find the right plant for you and your ecoscape: Plants and Plant Search

Get great ideas for planting with the Garden Gallery and Garden Tours

Find links to other water wise garden resources in the Garden Resources


Reduce runoff by increasing the permeability of our hardscapes.

Allow percolation with good choices for materials for walkways, driveways and patios. Increase the space between pavers and plant instead of mortaring.


Let water seep back into our gardens, communities and aquifers.

Build retention ponds, bioswales, dry creek beds and dry wells. Use rain barrels and graywater. Look for rebates from your water district for some of these water saving ideas.

Simple Steps

  1. Don’t water during the heat of the day! Only water before 10am and after 4pm
  2. Mulch! Compost!
  3. Harvest rainwater and re-use graywater
  4. Next time you plant, choose a native or low water use variety.
  5. Take a Green Gardener Class and learn ocean friendly gardening techniques:
  6. Install drip irrigation, water timers and controllers.
  7. Plant the right plants and cluster appropriately: learn your hydrozones -plant with water needs in mind
  8. Hire a green gardener or landscaper: ;
  9. Check out Ocean Friendly Gardens on
  10. Purchase the Ocean Friendly Gardens Book. Follow the guidelines and set up your own Ocean Friendly Garden.
  11. Get your neighbors, friends and co-workers to help you out and inspire them to make their outdoor spaces more Ocean Friendly!