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Lawn to Ocean Friendly Garden

Our Ocean Friendly Gardens crew successfully transformed an outdated lawn to an Ocean Friendly Garden in Long Beach this weekend! Volunteers learned how to install a beautiful rain garden in this front yard that features native and climate appropriate plants. Once the yard was shaped and planted, we demonstrated how to log our actions into the Dashboard.Earth app, and how volunteers can continue to make an impact at home. 

The homeowners participated in the city’s Lawn to Garden rebate program, which offers $3 per square foot of qualifying lawn. This helps to cover the cost of lawn removal and materials like amendment soil, plants, and rocks. The homeowners removed the grass in the project area before the workday so we could jump right into shaping the rain garden and planting. 

a yellow house with a grass lawn

The front of the house had a downspout that drained into the area against the porch. While not sending runoff directly into the street, it was eroding away the soil against the house and likely causing water damage to the porch. We shaped the rain garden to begin at the downspout and overflow toward the sidewalk. 

volunteers dig a rain garden

After the rain garden was shaped, we added cactus mix to the soil to promote drainage and reduce compaction. We then moved on to planting, starting in the center of the rain garden and moving outward. 

In the basin of the rain garden, we planted native and climate appropriate plants tolerant of both flooding and drought. This included California native plants like Blue Eyed Grass and Yarrow, and climate appropriate plants like Cape Rush and Grey Sedge. 

volunteers plant plants in the rain garden

Around the outside of the rain garden, we included climate appropriate succulents like Tree Aeonium and Foxtail Agave, as well as native California Fuschias, Coast Buckwheat, White Sage, Cleveland Sage, and Coyote Mint. All of these plants will help support habitat, retain rainwater in their roots, and use less water than a lawn! 

After planting, it was time to track our impact with the Dashboard.Earth app! Volunteers first downloaded the app and joined the Surfrider Foundation’s pathway, “Rewild Your Yard”. They then snapped photos of the native plants they planted in the action, “Swap in Native Plants”. By recording this in the app, we are able to track their local climate impact and inspire others to take action! 

volunteers spread pebbles in the rain garden

The basin of the rain garden was then covered with 1-2 inches of sand and small pebbles, followed by larger decorative rocks.  We topped everything off with a thorough watering to help the plants establish, and the homeowners will be visiting the Long Beach mulch yard at Willow Springs Park to pick up free mulch. Mulch helps to conserve water use and build healthy soils that soak in rainwater. 

a yellow house with a rain garden in the front

Thank you to all of the volunteers that came out and made this possible, and we hope to see you at the next Ocean Friendly Garden event! 

To learn more about Ocean Friendly Gardens check out our page here, or email