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Californians turn to lawn painting in the midst of drought

| August 13, 2014

Would you paint your lawn? A whole lot of people are saying: “Yes, please.”

California is enduring the worst drought on record. With water scarcer than ever, residents have been forced to significantly cut back on watering their lawns—if they’re allowed to water them at all.

lawn painting

The drought has led to lawns that look like this. From Kevin Cortopassi.

The result? A lot of dead grass. You might think the plight of the brown lawns would pale in comparison to having to take shorter showers or other uncomfortable side effects of the drought, but the brown lawns have really been dragging people down.

All the brown lawns and frustrated homeowners have given rise to an unusual business model: painting lawns green—and business is booming.

Lawn painting isn’t exactly new—it is regularly used at golf courses, and Clare Foran’s recent feature in the Atlantic’s City Lab even says that realtors have been known to paint lawns to make a property look more inviting. (We’ll admit: That was news to us.) But the drought conditions have prompted whole neighborhoods in California to turn to lawn painting to preserve aesthetics.

We’ve written in the past about how difficult it is to safely dispose of paint. Thus, when we heard this story, our first question was: is it environmentally friendly? Foran reports that the paint is marketed as “safe and non-toxic.” (That’s fairly vague language, but we’re giving them the benefit of the doubt until we learn more.)

A typical lawn painting session lasts anywhere from three to six months. A bonus: a painted lawn can get away with even less water, which promotes conservation.

The lawns aren’t the only thing looking green. Foran says that companies generally charge a quarter or more per square foot, and they’re cashing in big time in this drought. The drought isn’t expected to end any time soon, and the U.S. Drought Monitor has upgraded parts of California to the most severe status. That’s going to mean big business for lawn painting companies.

Of course, homeowners can offset some of the cost of lawn painting via the money they save on their water bill. And for some curb appeal-conscious homeowners, having a green lawn is priceless.

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Category: Conservation

About the Author ()

Ellen Hunter Gans has been writing for RecycleReminders since the blog’s inception. She is passionate about words, new media and, of course, recycling.

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