One of the main sources of water pollution in urban areas is stormwater runoff. When pollutants accumulate and are flushed into our waterways by rain it can lead to elevated bacteria levels causing wildlife die-offs, algae blooms, and a potential health risk for people. This is in addition to the impact of plastic and other trash that gets caught up in storm runoff.
Surfrider Foundation’s Ocean Friendly Gardens (OFG) Program seeks to address this problem by encouraging people, businesses and governments to approach land management by applying an overall watershed method that mimics nature. The key principles of this approach are referred to as “CPR”:
Conservation of resources
including use of native and climate appropriate species to conserve water, energy, and wildlife species.
of ground to allow runoff to filter through healthy soil. Break up concrete and other hardscapes to increase permeable area, and use compost and mulch to maintain healthy soil.
Retention of water
By slowing, spreading, and sinking runoff pollutants before they enter our waterways. Rain barrel, curb cuts, and bioswales are all methods to achieve this. The stored water is used by the plants during dry spells.
We currently have three Ocean Friendly Gardens in the Rockaways. If you have any ideas on additional potential OFG locations, please let us know!
Located on the corner of Beach 72nd Street and Gouverneur Avenue, in the Arverne neighborhood of Rockaway Beach, Arverne Cinema is a large outdoor venue that hosts film screenings and other events in the warmer months. In July 2022, Arverne Cinema became the site of Surfrider NYC’s first Ocean Friendly Garden in Rockaway Beach. Amongst many other native plant species, included in this garden are various milkweeds, switchgrasses, Joe-Pye weeds, blazing stars, mountain mints, asters and goldenrods. Over 25 different species of plants here work to provide food and habitat for our native insects and other wildlife, while their long roots improve the soil quality and permeability.
Located on the corner of Beach 67th Street and Almeda Avenue, this Ocean Friendly Garden is located in the side and front yards of a residential home in Arverne, about two blocks from Jamaica Bay on a stretch of road that is subject to major flooding during rain events. This makes the inclusion of an Ocean Friendly Garden, which works to capture and retain stormwater, functional as well as beautiful.
This garden boasts approximately 150 northeast native plants in the newly amended soil. The home’s side yard is relatively shady, so plants found in this garden site are mostly shade tolerant woodland species such as coral bells, blue flag iris, Christmas fern, turtlehead and cardinal flower. In the sunnier front garden species include rose mallow, ironweed, coneflower and spotted bee balm, in addition to many others.
These gardens worked to transform the front and side entrances to Arverne Cinema’s outdoor screening space from a collection of invasive plant species and other weeds to a much more permeable landscape, complete with an assortment of native, sun-loving coastal and prairie plant species. It includes such charismatic species as rattlesnake master, cutleaf coneflower, little bluestem and culver’s root. Approximately 150 native plants were installed at this site, creating a diverse and colorful facade for the cinema, while attracting many pollinators and other beneficial insects, improving soil quality, fostering the local ecosystem and providing a permeable receptacle for storm water runoff.