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Ocean-Friendly Gardening

Articles: Ocean-Friendly Gardening

Permeable pathways and contoured slopes planted with Muhlenbergia rigens and Ceanothus griseus var. horizontalis ‘Diamond Heights’ help slow the flow of water as it works its way to the vegetable garden below in this cliffside Ocean Friendly Garden. Photo: Robert Nieto

For most gardeners, the first rains after the dry season are cause for celebration. But talk to a watershed activist and you’ll hear it’s not all good news. That first inch of rain, or “first flush,” contains high concentrations of pollutants that have built up since the last rainy season ended.

Automobile engine oil, exhaust and brake pad dust, pet waste, garden pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and sediment all join with the rainwater as it runs off our properties and roads and into storm drains that eventually feed into the ocean. Except for a few towns, stormwater goes to the Pacific without being treated. Once it enters coastal water, untreated stormwater causes ocean acidification and red tides that kill marine populations and could eventually lead to the extinction of certain sensitive species. Untreated runoff poisons the water a...


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