Nate Berg is a freelance reporter and a former staff writer for CityLab. He lives in Los Angeles.
The relic front-yard service borne of the housing bust is revived as a drought hits the nation.
It sort of made sense during the housing bust and foreclosure flood of the late 2000s, when cities and banks overwhelmed with vacant and poorly maintained houses tried to doll things up for potential sales by spray-painting dead front lawns a vibrant and alive-looking green.
Helping these places not look like decaying messes was arguably a way to make them more appealing to people who would buy and, presumably, actually take care of these homes. But now, things have just gotten ridiculous.
The Associated Press reports today that the widespread drought currently being experienced by more than two-thirds of the country has inspired some homeowners and businesses to employ the same type of lawn painting for no other reason than that it looks better than dead grass.
"It looks just like a spring lawn, the way it looks after a rain. It's really gorgeous," Staten Island resident Terri LoPrimo told the AP.
You can almost hear the neighbors jealously wondering, "How does she do it?"
The AP story links to three separate entrepreneurs who have been steadily gathering customers for their lawn-dying services amid the drought. As a result, the article also employs the phrase "lawn-painting business" – a concept that (hopefully) would have boggled minds just a decade ago.
As absurd as it is, the desperation of this vanity is perhaps too deeply engrained in the concept of the American Dream for lawn painting to not make sense to some people. As droughts become more common and the feasibility of a front lawn becomes less realistic, it's likely that lawn-painting businesses will be able to survive and thrive in the seemingly important service of keeping up appearances.
Photo credit: Rick Wilking / Reuters