Is your grass brown? You could paint it
Seeking a quick, cheap fix for brown lawns, real-estate agents and homeowners are trying spray paint.
Anyone who has ever lived in a dry climate has had to make a decision: spend time and money to water the grass, or let it grow brown and hope it rains soon.
In Florida, I found that skipping water in the dry season didn't hurt the grass that much. In California, skipping water meant dead grass in no time.
Homeowners and real-estate agents seeking to green up grass in a hurry and on the cheap are finding another alternative: painting the grass.
That's right. In cities such as Phoenix and Perris, Calif., homeowners are keeping their grass green with spray paint. Marc Lacey wrote about this recently in The New York Times, but it turns out that spray-painting grass has been going on for several years.
In Riverside County, Calif., Perris Mayor Pro Tem Mark Yarbrough hired David Milligan in 2009 to paint the grass in front of foreclosed homes so they'd look better to potential buyers.
Post continues below
"We saw what was happening, so we put our heads together to try to come up with a solution to help reduce the impact of these foreclosures," Yarbrough told David Kelly of the Los Angeles Times. "We think this is the most cost-effective way of addressing the problem. Get it green, get it sold and move on."
The painted grass stays green for about three months. Charles Turner of Turner Realtors in Portland, Ore., did a test patch and posted photos of just-painted grass and the same grass two weeks later.
The real-estate crisis, as well as homeowners' desire to save money on water and lawn maintenance, has been a boon for grass painters. As The New York Times reports:
The grass-spraying business took off here as the housing crisis escalated and real-estate brokers were looking to quickly increase the curb appeal of abandoned properties on the cheap. A lawn painting, using a vegetable-based dye, can cost about $200. Vigorous homeowners associations, which can fine owners thousands of dollars if a dispute drags on, have also been good for business, said Klaus Lehmann of Turf-Painters Enterprise.
If you're looking for a longer-term solution, xeriscaping, using native plants rather than grass and desert landscaping with rocks and cactus are probably superior solutions. Some homeowners use artificial turf, though firefighter Ed Cunningham noted in the Times story that "plastic grass" gets too hot to walk on barefoot in Arizona.
I think a lot of you are getting confused because they said they were "spray painting the lawns," but you didn't read far enough to see that the "paint" is a vegetable dye (which is eco-friendly and non-toxic), not the "spray paint" in metal bottles that graffiti artists, etc use. Please re-read the article if you missed this as it will help everyone have a more educated discussion.
Now on to another point...it's all well and good for these lawns to be nice and green especially if it will help with foreclosure sales, however, each treatment only lasts about 90 days. I wonder if you were the new homeowner of one of these properties if you would be slightly disappointed with grass that went from vibrant and green when you bought it, to brown-death a few months later. I mean I can understand why they are doing this, and it definitely has some pros, but what about the cons? To me that would almost be false advertising. That's almost like knowing a house needs a new roof b/c the current roof is in horrible disrepair and doing a patch job just to make it look good enough to sale. Or knowingly selling a car that's a lemon, would be a similar example. To me that seems a little unethical. I mean it's only grass, I know, but if that grass is completely dead they might wind up having to re-sod the whole lawn. If you've ever had that done, you know it can be pretty pricey. Is it fair for the banks/mortgage companies/private sellers/HOA's to do this as a cheap fix to get the empty houses sold? What does everyone think?
I was unable to post the MSDS link it is apparently considered spam to post web links. See the grassbgreens website for MSDS info.
Like so many quasi-ecologists in this nation, there is a general assumption that Chemicals=Bad and Organics=Good, when many have no idea as to the fact that every organic compound has a chemical structure and organic substances are studied and used to synthesis most of the chemicals we use today. Please, educate yourself. A world of information is at your fingertips.
Note: I do not use or endorse this product, I just dislike how people will make general ecological assumptions without any research or knowledge of the subject. These lawn dye products had been used by greens keepers worldwide for many years before it became available to the general public.
The lawn dyes in question are produced from vegetable based dyes. Although there are trace amounts of some chemicals, they are quite common in many products we have been using for years. Formaldehyde in particular is produced naturally in the vegetables used to make the dye and only the amount that naturally occurs is present in the lawn dye. We eat trace amounts of formaldehyde regularly when we eat vegetables with no ill effects. Polyethylene Glycol is the active component of the laxatives Ducolax and Mira Lax and is also used in cancer treatment. Ethylene-vinyl acetate is used to make mouth guards and a variety of other products we use everyday including medical uses for drug delivery. Bicyclic oxazolidines is an antimicrobial ingredient to many cosmetics. None of these chemicals are considered harmful in the trace amounts that exist in the lawn dye, some are not considered harmful in greater amounts.
I grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and one year, I believe it was in the 1970's we had a drought. There were certain rules and regulations put in place and no one could water their yards, etc. My father, being the meticulous person that he is, could not stand around watching his grass die. So he painted it green. You could tell it wasn't real but it made him happy. When the drought was over, there was a picture on the front page of the newspaper of him planting new grass. It said "Drought must be over Clark is planting grass"
I agree Nunamia,
Why permiate the soil and water the next thing they will find is it causes canser or defects in kids, live stock, pets, ect.....why not use astro turf instead that way it's always green and it's safe let me guess it cost too much, so what is cheaper spray painting it and causing ramifications or spend a little more and have something safer like astro turf, some people just don't think they just want it to look nice or make a sale.
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.