Do Your Neighbours Paint Their Lawns Green? Increasingly, Yes
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Do Your Neighbours Paint Their Lawns Green? Increasingly, Yes

The niche business of painting drab grass is growing like weeds, as people try to save money and water

Tue, Mar 21, 2023 8:49amGrey Clock 5 min

GILBERT, Ariz.—Mike Landers enjoys taking his dog, Luci, for walks along the lush communal grass in the Islands, the master-planned neighbourhood where he lives. This year, the grass looks particularly verdant. It’s been painted.

“Could you tell? It looks like green grass,” said Mr. Landers, who is 69, and came from Minnesota, adding that Luci doesn’t seem to mind.

Creating a green lawn has long been considered artistry, and perhaps now more than ever: More people are turning to paint.

In just moments, wilting, yellowing grass suddenly looks like it belongs on the fairways of St. Andrews. Painted lawns are becoming more popular as inflation-strained households try to save money, drought complicates water usage and severe storms have brought ice and freezing rain to swaths of the South, turning lawns a blah brown. This niche business sector has grown, well, like weeds, with lots of landscapers, professional training and an array of shades to choose from.

Not everyone is a fan of painted grass. “I don’t like it. It’s wintertime, it should be brown,” said Don Ossian, 65, another resident of the Islands community, who is originally from Iowa. He said his dog, Jedidiah, got green paint on his paws.

Mr. Ossian’s dog’s walk could have been poorly timed. Tim Gavelek, who sells the turf colorant to the landscaping company that works at the Islands, said paint dries within a few hours and is safe for pets.

While Mr. Gavelek’s lawn-care company, Fertizona, has been selling green lawn paint for a decade, he said he is getting far more calls this year from landscaping companies, homeowner associations and residents curious about painting, in an effort to cut down on expenses and save water.

In Arizona there have been no limits on outdoor water usage in residential areas, unlike California. But cities such as Gilbert and Phoenix have warned restrictions could come if drought worsens. Scottsdale is trying to get residents to switch out lawns with water-saving landscaping by offering rebates.

Nick Perez, the representative at landscaping company BrightView who negotiated the contract with the Islands, said the neighbourhood was looking to save, but wanted to keep up lawn appearances. “They want lush,” he said.

At the Islands, BrightView sprayed 17 acres with an emerald colour made to look like golf courses. The move is estimated to save the community $70,000 in water costs that would have kept the grass naturally green, according to Mr. Perez. The Islands declined to comment.

Painting can cut down on water usage because grass doesn’t need to be alive. Dormant grass, that dry yellow stuff that shows up once the lawn stops being watered or is unhappy with temperature, can hang onto paint.

Brian Howland, 53, who paints yards in the Phoenix area part-time with his son, said you can get a dormant lawn to look realistic with paint, for an average cost of $250 to $350. The only problem is, it doesn’t feel as good as it looks.

People say “ ‘Wow the yard looks amazing’ and you take a step and it goes ‘crunch,’ ” he said.

Mr. Howland switched paints after testing out a brand that left some lawns blue after the yellow pigment burned off in the sun.

In Houston, Ruben Alonso, 43, and his son Ru, 21, started a mowing business, Alawnso Services, after Mr. Alonso was laid off during the pandemic. Then a client asked to have his lawn painted, and Mr. Alonso branched into that, doing 100 lawn-painting jobs in the winter of 2022 and now keeping up a busy pace. He says he has trained at least 20 other people to start similar businesses.

His teenage daughter, Jenavi, posted a TikTok of an early job featuring Mr. Alonso painting the grass as the background voice debates if people will be able to spot a fake. The video took off once he began interacting with his audience and views now total 3.7 million. He thinks people get satisfaction watching something go from “ugly to pretty,” though he said a way for a video to go viral is to post a mistake, such as paint splashing onto a sidewalk.

“People love commenting that you got paint on a piece of wood, on the wall,” he said. Even though the father-son duo are much more experienced now, Mr. Alonso said he’ll still occasionally lean in and post a video of a mishap, thinking, “Let me just throw them a bone.”

Geoponics Corp. makes popular pigments including “Fairway,” a dark green that it says has a “see it from the moon” effect and “Perennial Rye,” inspired by golf courses of Augusta, Ga. Brad Driggers, a sales manager, travels the country helping paint users understand the correct mixing ratios. He said landscaping companies or golf course turf managers may use tractors with long attachments to spray big areas, while a person at home could use a gallon jug with a small attachment.

“We have a very good product but the application is half the battle…if it’s not applied right then it’s not gonna look right,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to know it’s painted.”

Ozzie Sattler, 70, a retired radio broadcaster in Phoenix, gets his lawn professionally painted in summer, sometimes shocking his neighbors. “Because one day it’ll be yellow and the next day it’s green,” he said.

The world of sports has long engaged in lawn painting for aesthetics. When you turn on TV to watch a golf tournament or football game, you’re often looking at painted grass. TPC Scottsdale, the course that held the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, was painted to enhance and protect the blades for what has been nicknamed “the Greenest Show on Grass,” said Brandon Reese, director of agronomy at TPC. (Professional ice rinks are also painted white.)

Some homeowners paint their lawns green to satisfy neighbourhood critics. Who needs a green thumb if you’ve got green paint?

Jenn Poist, 46, a YouTube content creator who posts under the name Raptor Adventures says neighbours in Spring Hill, Fla., were bugging her about what they deemed a lawn unworthy of the neighbourhood.

Ms. Poist didn’t want to add chemicals or fertilisers to her lawn over fear of harming wild animals. She bought a nontoxic green spray paint.

“That’s a good alternative because it will get them off our back,” she said.

David Steele, 73, a retiree from Phoenix, started painting his lawn with the intention of turning it into a local business, but he quickly realised pigment couldn’t save a bad yard and scaled back his ambitions.

Mr. Steele said a lawn needs to be prepared before it can be painted for best results. Some clients started asking him to remove weeds and mow their lawns first. He said he didn’t want to end up as a landscaper. Now, he paints only for friends and family who have well-maintained yards to start with.

“I’m very particular. The canvas has to be nice or you just don’t get the results that someone else may expect,” Mr. Steele said.

Still, he’s not perfect and keeps a rag in his pocket and Windex nearby in case any paint gets onto the sidewalk. A little dab and it’s all cleared up.

—Louise Radnofsky and Natalie Andrews contributed to this article.


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Ray White’s chief economist outlines her predictions for housing market trends in 2024

By Bronwyn Allen
Tue, Nov 28, 2023 2 min

Ray White’s chief economist, Nerida Conisbee says property price growth will continue next year and mortgage holders will need to “survive until 2025” amid expectations of higher interest rates for longer.

Ms Conisbee said strong population growth and a housing supply shortage combatted the impact of rising interest rates in 2023, leading to unusually strong price growth during a rate hiking cycle. The latest CoreLogic data shows home values have increased by more than 10 percent in the year to date in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. Among the regional markets, price growth has been strongest in regional South Australia with 8.6 percent growth and regional Queensland at 6.9 percent growth.

“As interest rates head close to peak, it is expected that price growth will continue. At this point, housing supply remains extremely low and many people that would be new home buyers are being pushed into the established market,” Ms Conisbee said. “Big jumps in rents are pushing more first home buyers into the market and population growth is continuing to be strong.”

Ms Conisbee said interest rates will be higher for longer due to sticky inflation. “… we are unlikely to see a rate cut until late 2024 or early 2025. This means mortgage holders need to survive until 2025, paying far more on their home loans than they did two years ago.”

Buyers in coastal areas currently have a window of opportunity to take advantage of softer prices, Ms Conisbee said. “Look out for beach house bargains over summer but you need to move quick. In many beachside holiday destinations, we saw a sharp rise in properties for sale and a corresponding fall in prices. This was driven by many pandemic driven holiday home purchases coming back on to the market.”

3 key housing market trends for 2024

Here are three of Ms Conisbee’s predictions for the key housing market trends of 2024.

Luxury apartment market to soar

Ms Conisbee said the types of apartments being built have changed dramatically amid more people choosing to live in apartments longer-term and Australia’s ageing population downsizing. “Demand is increasing for much larger, higher quality, more expensive developments. This has resulted in the most expensive apartments in Australia seeing price increases more than double those of an average priced apartment. This year, fewer apartments being built, growing population and a desire to live in some of Australia’s most sought-after inner urban areas will lead to a boom in luxury apartment demand.”

Homes to become even greener

The rising costs of energy and the health impacts of heat are two new factors driving interest in green homes, Ms Conisbee said. “Having a greener home utilising solar and batteries makes it cheaper to run air conditioning, heaters and pool pumps. We are heading into a particularly hot summer and having homes that are difficult to cool down makes them far more dangerous for the elderly and very young.”

More people living alone

For some time now, long-term social changes such as delayed marriage and an ageing population have led to more people living alone. However, Ms Conisbee points out that the pandemic also showed that many people prefer to live alone for lifestyle reasons. “Shorter term, the pandemic has shown that given the chance, many people prefer to live alone with a record increase in single-person households during the time. This trend may influence housing preferences, with a potential rise in demand for smaller dwellings and properties catering to individuals rather than traditional family units.”


Consumers are going to gravitate toward applications powered by the buzzy new technology, analyst Michael Wolf predicts

Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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