by Dan Gibson
From the New York Times, since there's apparently nothing else important happening in the state:
There used to be two kinds of homeowners in this scorching city, those with dazzling green lawns irrigated by sprinklers and those with more natural backyard expanses of rocks, cactuses and desert flora, which required no watering at all.
Many homeowners' associations in Arizona require either desert landscaping or green grass, which requires extensive watering.
Now, though, the grass may be greener next door simply because of a fresh coat of paint.
Homeowners’ associations in this arid region typically have rules requiring residents to maintain either desert landscaping or green grass, with brown lawns not an option.
This is the time of year, with summer approaching and the winter grass dying out, when letters typically go out to homeowners reminding them of the rules and making it clear that violators could face fines or even legal action should their lawns take on an unsatisfactory hue.
The pressure to keep grass green has prompted some residents to try money-saving shortcuts, the most innovative of which is to dye the grass green.
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.
Doug McGraw, who lives in the Dreaming Summit subdivision in western Phoenix, has been cited for neglecting his lawn. Like many homeowners here, Mr. McGraw saw his finances in turmoil of couple of years back and had no extra money to spend on the lawn. “I just let it go one year, and it went to brown,” he said.
A citation letter arrived from the homeowners’ association.
That is when his wife, tongue in cheek, remarked that if food could be dyed, why not lawns? Mr. McGraw began researching the issue and discovered that those who operate athletic fields and golf courses do indeed use lawn dye to keep their grass green year-round.
Unsure whether this would be allowed by his association, and somewhat embarrassed to be taking the easy way out, he dyed his lawn one night in the spring of 2009 without telling a soul in the neighborhood.
By the end of 2009, when the grass needed a touchup, he painted it by day and even offered to do the same for his neighbors, for a fee. Only one person took him up on the offer, but nobody objected to his quick fix either.