Chapter 6: Lawn Patrol-Oriented Program
When you have the capacity to do more than gather and share information, you can organize neighborhood walks called “Lawn Patrols.” It takes its name from “dawn patrol,” the early-morning check of waves done by surfers to see if it’s worth going out. The Lawn Patrol walk should be treated like a cross between a social event and a beach cleanup. It is open to the public, fun, and easy to organize and join. A person familiar with OFG can lead the walk.
Lawn Patrol can be used as:
- Mini-outdoor class and orientation for new volunteers.
- Promotion of your OFG program through recognizing homeowners who are already doing the right thing.
- Identifying those who just need a little assistance in having an OFG.
Patrols and other OFG programming also offers a way for people to meet - possibly for the first time, even after decades of living next to each other. It also gives people a way to reconnect with where they live.
You can seek co-sponsors of Lawn Patrols from groups that compliment the work you are doing, such as native plant societies, garden clubs, associations of landscape professionals, “friends” of local water bodies, government agencies and others.
How Lawn Patrol Works
- Minimum 6 weeks out - Identify an OFG at which you want to start -- and notify the property owner or resident. (If your chapter has been involved in creating an OFG, start at that site!) Encourage the owner/resident to be present at the beginning of the Patrol to explain what was done on the property, and ask them to notify any landscape professionals that were involved to also share info and join the walk
- Min. 5 weeks out – Check out and map the walk route, jotting down addresses or marking on a map those homes with OFG components as well as those that are good examples of what not to do. Leave behind a flyer (see Appendix A) at homes around the starting site telling, asking them to email you (set up an OFG RSVP email address) if they would like to:
- Walk on the Patrol and talk about their home when the Patrol stops there; and/or
- Welcome the Patrol at their home to review their landscape.
- Min. 4 weeks out - Create, print and distribute a flyer with route map, date, time, and start and end point addresses (model in Appendix). Provide copies to the property resident for personal distribution in the neighborhood. This would help us get introduced to neighbors who are home at the time of the walk.
- Min. 2 weeks out – Notify local newspapers and make sure the event is on the public (or garden event) calendar. Issue press releases about the event and send email blasts to members, partners, and those on the resource list.
- Min. 1 week out – Notify restaurant (see below) where you will start or end the walk that people will be gathering. If gathering at the OFG or a public park, etc, arrange for drinks, coffee/tea, and snacks to be available when people sign-in.
B. The Day of the Patrol
- Start Either at a coffee shop/restaurant to gather and get something to eat and drink. Or provide snacks at a park or other public place, or at the OFG site. Regardless of where you first meet, you will formally begin the walk at the OFG you want to highlight.
- Sign-In is important for gathering names for future notices and recruitment. Everyone must sign a Participatory Waiver so that Surfrider is not held liable for an accident, e.g., someone twisting their ankle. (link)
- Review the OFG principles and practices implemented in the garden. Formally install the OFG garden sign (if it hasn’t already been installed)
- Walk the neighborhood with the OFG Sign Criteria on a clipboard to help participants identify existing OFG elements at a home landscape -- and opportunities to take steps to fulfill all our OFG criteria.
- Play “OFG Bingo” (Bingo card in Appendix A) or shout out what you see to build competence and confidence.
- Leave behind a flyer (see Appendix A) that allows you to place a mark and/or a few comments next to:
- Information about upcoming OFG events;
- Getting an OFG sign if the garden has all the elements;
- Notes about OFG components that are installed and help the Chapter OFG Committee could provide to complete it. For example, a garden may have native plants, mulch and an appropriate irrigation system -- but the rainwater downspout is directed onto the driveway or there is no rainwater retention device. This is a common occurrence and an easy opportunity for the chapter to volunteer to assist the homeowner/resident to remedy the problem and become eligible for the OFG garden sign.
How To Identify A Site and Neighborhood
There are several ways to find OFGs:
- Set up a group walk, bike or drive around neighborhoods;
- Check out nursery, water agency, and local landscape companies’ websites for examples of gardens that might look like OFG. If your water agency gives conservation incentives, ask for examples.
- Contact landscape professionals and ask them to submit proposals for sites that they think would meet the OFG sign criteria. You could ask the professional to be present at the site to talk about the project and bring before/during/after photos;
- Inquire with local native plant societies and botanical garden groups.
Use Lawn Patrol to Build Chapter Capacity
Lawn Patrols offer a means to:
- Transfer skills developed with other Surfrider programs into the OFG Program. For example, organizing and executing a beach cleanup is very similar to organizing and executing a Lawn Patrol.
- Create achievable and meaningful jobs for new volunteers;
- Provide opportunities for volunteers to be trained to lead a group on the next Lawn Patrol;
- Show the value of OFG to regular property owners, landscape professionals and government entities that can help lead to collaboration and building a movement street-by-street.
Use Lawn Patrol to Build Partnerships
Walking neighborhoods can be a practical way to gauge what is actually happening and could happen to landscapes and
- Produce data about landscapes – existence of climate-appropriate plants, efficient irrigation, rainwater infiltration and/or harvesting;
- Distribute information about city programs and resources for homeowners interested in creating an OFG and saving money;
- Provide photo-ops for partners (water districts and government agencies) whose logos may be given a position on the OFG sign.