Green, lush-looking lawns can be achieved without water even during the heat of summer.
Richard Scowden of GoGreenGrass uses a nontoxic, child- and pet-safe product to paint lawns. He says the treatment is popular in Arizona, Florida and other areas of the country, but admits business has been slow so far in the Rogue Valley.
"One of the big things I wanted was to make sure it was biodegradable," said Scowden. He investigated the possibility for his own property and then decided to make it available to others.
Lawn painting could appeal to people who are going on vacation for a couple months, and it might also be attractive to real-estate agents and banks that own vacant property, said Scowden. Companies or people hosting events or weddings also might use the service.
At his home in the hills outside Talent, Scowden and his wife, Sandy, maintain a small yard but are reluctant to use well water on it. Painting the lawn helps the couple preserve their supply for household and other uses.
One of the Scowdens' dogs ended up with green spots for a couple weeks when the couple painted test patches last year but suffered no ill effects. The paint takes a couple hours to dry. Deer can perceive a difference in the treated grass, Scowden said.
The paint's estimated life is three to four months, although Scowden says some he applied on tree roots poking through the ground last year is still visible. The painted grass can be mowed and watered. "It's not going to grow much this time of year," said Scowden.
Mike Pitts, who lives on West Nevada Street in Ashland, had his 1,000-square-foot front lawn and parts of his backyard painted last summer.
He estimated he saved about 60 percent on his summer water bill.
"When you see it going on and you see the extreme change, it's like 'wow,' " Pitts said.
When Scowden had some paint left over from another job earlier this year, he painted half of Pitts' front lawn and put up a sign to show the difference between a painted and unpainted lawn.
Pitts sprayed some water on the painted section on a recent morning.
"When you get it wet, it does look better," he said.
Scowden, who has a dirt driveway, says he sometimes sprays his painted lawn to remove the dust and restore color.
Pitts also keeps a small spray bottle of the paint to cover lawn spots. He did that the other day after accidentally spilling mower gas on his backyard lawn. The paint can also be applied to pet spots.
At one job near Ashland, Scowden arrived to find a gorgeous, lush setting. The owner wanted to cover some brown circles that had appeared on her lawn to give it a uniform appearance. Hand- or electric-powered sprayers can be used to apply the paint, which is ammonia based and may help fertilize the lawn as it wears.
A two-year study at Clemson University on lawn paints determined a once or twice per year application had no negative effect on summer turf performance, according to a summary at www.naturalgreengrasspatch.com.
Scowden retired as a captain after 32 years with Jackson County Fire District No. 5. He is now on the district's board of directors. His wife does the firm's marketing and had worked in merchandising and marketing for Bear Creek Corporation. She does similar work for a local, wholesale flower-bulb company.
The painting usually costs 12 cents per square foot, with a 500-square-foot minimum. Lawns can be prepared for the application at an hourly charge or owners can do their own preparation, which consists of removing debris and dead material and perhaps mowing.
More information can be found at GoGreen-Grass.com.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.