“Brown is the New Green”, proclaims a hand-lettered sign perched over a crispy yellow lawn in California. As the record-breaking drought continues, we’re seeing more brown and yellow lawns. And while the water saved is great, dead grass just isn’t very attractive. Many homeowners are opting to replace their lawns with artificial turf, or simply paint their brown grass green.
This green lawn paint isn’t really paint; it’s a colorant created from natural pigments and oils. It’s non-toxic, doesn’t wash off once dried, and can last up to 6 months depending on conditions. Sounds like a win-win, right? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Painting your lawn green was originally intended as a temporary solution to reduce your water usage during the dry summer months. It does not eliminate water usage altogether, and it does not mean you’re free of lawn maintenance. Prior to coloring your lawn for first time, you should let your lawn go fallow by cutting off the water for several weeks. The blades of grass above ground will turn brown and dry, but the roots underground are still alive. After your lawn is colored, you need to water your grass every 2-3 weeks to ensure that the roots stay alive beneath ground. This way, when the winter storms come, your lawn can come back to life.
While the colorant doesn’t rub off on your clothes, it will eventually come off with watering, rain, and mowing. If you are watering and mowing your lawn more actively, the colorant may need touching up within 2 weeks. On average, lawns will need to be re-colored every 3 months. At $0.25 per square foot of lawn, the cost of keeping your lawn colored will continue adding up.
Furthermore, your lawn is under a lot of stress when it is in a fallow state. It can’t survive heavy foot traffic without extra water in those areas. This means you’ll need to limit the amount of playtime on the grass, or choose to water it more often. It also may not survive weed killer, so you should do your weeding by hand during the time your lawn is fallow.
Painting your lawn green is a creative solution for reducing water usage during a dry summer. However, since California is a perpetually dry state, a little lawn coloring may not be enough of a solution, especially for the long run. If you want durable, maintenance-free grass that truly requires no water, then you may want to consider replacing your lawn with artificial turf. Contact us today about how you can replace your lawn with water-free and worry-free turf.