By April 15, 2015 Read More →

The Red Queen Might Paint Her Roses Red but We Paint Our Lawns Green

Many Californians are trying to find creative ways to reduce our water usage, not just during the drought, but for the rest of our existence.  However one of the least creative ways is one of the most effective ways to save water, and that is with our lawn maintenance. Or for some of us, our lack of lawn maintenance.

Having lived in apartments for 30 years, it was quite a shock to learn how much water the lawn at my house was drinking needed to stay green. Watering for 45 minutes a week was wasting roughly 30 gallons, according to our water bill. Thirty gallons every week adds up to 1,560 gallons a year.  That is enough to feed my household on a vegetarian diet for nearly a year. Needless to say, I quit watering my lawn after my first City of Modesto bill.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for my landlord to complain that we were neglecting our duties as tenants, so I started to research what we could legally do to protect the Earth, and conserve our water, without breaking our lease. Modesto Irrigation District pointed me to the site, and gave me several bills to look up.

AB2100 is described as a “bill that would prohibit an association from imposing a fine or assessment against a member of a separate interest for reducing or eliminating watering of vegetation or lawns during any period for which the Governor has declared a state of emergency, or a local government has declared a local emergency, due to drought.” Signed by Governor Jerry Brown on July 21st, 2014, it took effect immediately.

AB2104 provides for the “creation and regulation of common interest developments. That act provides that a provision of any of the common interest development governing documents, as defined, that governs the operation of a common interest development, is void and unenforceable if it prohibits, or includes conditions that have the effect of prohibiting, the use of low water-using plants as a group, or if it has the effect of prohibiting or restricting compliance with a local water-efficient landscape ordinance or water conservation measure.” Signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 18, 2014, it took effect immediately.

Armed with knowledge of the new laws, I then did what anyone in my predicament would do: I asked Facebook for ideas to re-vamp my lawn area, without completely disobeying my lease. I was looking for something I could do quickly that wasn’t too expensive (i.e. not more than $250), something that I could do within the law, but wasn’t outlandish enough to cause my own eviction. Several friends recommended having my lawn painted, like the golf courses do. I took to Google and ordered 32 concentrated ounces of Lawn Lift ( for a test section. Although I found several different kinds of lawn paint, Lawn Lift appealed to me because it is clay based and safe for pets. After shipping, the price came to $59, and it arrived within 3 days. I did my first coat that weekend.


The grass on the left is control group grass, and as you can see it’s pretty much dead. The grass on the right is the experimental group. It has one coat of Lawn Lift. Since it came concentrated, I had to mix it accordingly with water in a sprayer. The first coat took 1.75 hours, approximately 600 sq ft of lawn. The first coat used my entire 32 ounces of paint. It looked very natural, and the lawn wasn’t crunchy if you walked on it. Short on time, and needing to do a second coat before my landlord stopped back by again, I went into the local OSH and purchased a concentrated gallon bottle of Colorback for $63 after tax.

Colorback is a latex based paint, and price-wise it was the same as ordering Lawn Lift and having it shipped, though I did get more concentrate with the Colorback than the Lawn Lift. The color was definitely a more vibrant green, but it wasn’t as convincing as the Lawn Lift. But in a pinch it worked.


The left side is still control group grass, while the experimental group on the right is a bottom coat of Lawn Lift, and a top coat of Colorback. The second coat (due to being more meticulous and covering every inch) took me 3 hours, and I used ¾ my gallon of Colorback.

If you have about 3 hours of time on your hands, and $60, this is a great way to reduce your water usage, and the lawn will look great. Every drop saved now is a drop in the well for our farmers to grow our food. Every drop saved now is a drop in your belly tomorrow!



About the Author:

Bring on the rain, and a bottle of Wonky & Wry's Honey Braggot Ale. Loves to roast marshmallows over a fire. Enjoys the mix of cigars and whiskey.