Californians Are Painting Their Lawns Green to Save Water During Record Drought

California residents have come up with an innovative solution to brighten up their dry lawns, in the midst of their fourth year of drought: they’re painting their lawns green! The extreme measure became popular after statewide water restrictions were announced for the first time in history, in order to combat one of the region’s most devastating droughts.

The restriction leave average Californians with virtually no water for their lawns, but that hasn’t stopped them from wanting to keep their front and back yards looking green. Lots of them are now turning to lawn painting, which is a whole lot cheaper than artificial turf, at 25 cents per square foot. The service was once limited to athletic fields and golf courses, but is now being sought out homeowners, hoteliers, and wedding planners, among others.

The green dye is apparently plant based and completely harmless to humans and animals. It’s also water resistant, although no one would mind if a little rain were to wash it away. The effect lasts for about three months, after which the lawn has to be spray painted again.


Photo: Lawn Paint Pros

“It looks phenomenal,” said Jeff Griffith-Jones, general manager of operations at Almaden Valley Athletic Club in San Jose. The club recently opted to paint its brown lawns green through a service called Green Polymer Systems. They were asked to let the grass turn completely brown before painting, in order to achieve an even tone. Now that the painting is complete, the gym still waters the grass to keep the roots alive, but has cut down to 10 percent of its former use of sprinklers.

“The important thing is we’re saving water and that’s what our members are looking for, so that’s what’s important to us. The members love it so much,” Griffith-Jones said.


Photo: Lawn Paint Pros

‘LawnLift’, one of the leading providers of lawn painting services, is the brainchild of 45-year-old former mortgage broker Jim Power. His old business imploded in 2007, so he started looking for other areas to invest in. That’s when he saw a story on TV about a man in New York who painted lawns. He loved the idea, and decided to launch a similar service in California.

Interestingly, Power said he hadn’t thought about a drought at all when he first set up LawnLift. He squarely aimed his business at real estate agents who wanted to plump up the appeal for foreclosed homes with withering yards. But now that California is suffering a dry spell for the fourth consecutive year, his business has really taken off.


Photo: Turf Painters

In fact, the demand for lawn painting is so high that former casino manager Dave Bartlett has sold all his partnerships to pump more money into his lawn painting business, Xtreme Green Grass. Drew McLellan, a barber who owns A Lucky Lawn has been approached for a reality show.

Experts have estimated that the state’s reservoirs will be left with less than a years’ worth of drinking water by the end of 2015. In a bid to save water, Californians have been demolishing their pools, cutting back on showers, and letting their lawns turn brown. Ski resorts have been shut down, and all fountains that don’t use recycled water have been shut off. There’s a ban on filling swimming pools, and restaurants aren’t allowed to serve their patrons water unless they ask for it.


Even celebrities have started replacing their lush lawns and gardens with draught-resistant succulents, although some reportedly still waste a crazy amount of water to keep their green oasis in perfect condition.

Sources: ABC News, LA Times

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