The importance of faux green.

Image by tico_24 | flickr.com

Image by tico_24 | flickr.com

I have recently read in The Wall Street Journal an article about the precedence of painting lawns in the drought cursed California. As ridiculous as it might sound, it is true. The author of the article wrote that grass lawns of many Californians are drying off, causing their regular green colour to turn into a brownish one. Because the state of California has imposed a water saving policy that negatively influenced the use of water for lawn irrigations, many homeowners in the state decided to paint their lawns with a non-toxic (as they claim, but who knows?) grass paint concentrate. All to keep pre-drought appearances and their lawns green.

But California’s prolonged drought didn’t introduce just one grass-painting business avenue. There are other options for green lawn lovers of the Sunny state. Some landscaping companies suggest the re-planting of California’s indigenous plants (cacti and such) as part of a total makeover of classic California front and backyards that were traditionally way too green for the climatic conditions of a semi-dessert. Others suggest that the best way to go is to install fake lawns that apparently come in many different varieties such as “spring rye” or “vista natural”. And I wouldn't be surprised if the tag on such a fake lawn read “Made in China”.

So it looks like California's residents are not left without lawn maintenance options even during this devastating drought. But there is something absolutely disturbing in this picture. And to me that is the absolute unawareness of the gravity of this drought problem. These home owners that spray their lawns to keep them green or buy fake grass are so absolutely obsessed with appearances that they likely ignore the root causes that put them in this situation in the first place. They seem not to understand that their way of living may totally change and if the rain doesn't come, brownish lawns in the front of their houses will be the least of their worries. I guess they think that if they cover their lawns with a layer of tint or plastic, the drought will disappear. Well, here is the news for you, faux green-obsessed Californians, it won't!

Unfortunately, frequently Canadians from the West Coast follow in the steps of folks living South of the border. The love for tinted lawns or fake grass is probably not that far from us Vancouverites (I even saw some fake grass being installed rather than real grass on 8th Avenue, near the Whole Foods on Cambie Street). It might be the beginning of a trend or just one street's whimsy. This has yet to be established. But let's not be surprised if soon enough we see our neighbours spraying green tint on their lawns or installing “spring rye” in their backyards. After all, we are beginning to have drier springs and summers.

This article was originally published by Sustainable Collective, which has since merged with The Starfish Canada.