AP Photo/Michael Conroy
Ronnie Sharp, left, and Brandy Birdwell of Imperial Painting, spray turf paint on a drought-ravaged lawn outside a auto repair shop in Indianapolis. Without cutting the color will last four to six months.
INDIANAPOLIS -- When this summer's drought turned her prized lawn brown, Terri LoPrimo fought back, but not with sprinklers: She had it painted green, making her suddenly lush-appearing yard the envy of her neighborhood.
The Staten Island, N.Y., resident and her husband, Ronnie, hired a local entrepreneur to spruce up their yard by spraying it with a deep-green organic dye. By Monday, the couple's property was aglow with newly green blades of grass and no watering needed to sustain it.
"It looks just like a spring lawn, the way it looks after a rain. It's really gorgeous," said LoPrimo, a 62-year-old retiree.
With two-thirds of the nation covered by a drought that stretches from coast to coast, residents and businesses in normally well-watered areas are catching on to the lawn-painting practice employed for years in the West and Southwest to give luster to faded turf.
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LoPrimo paid $125 to green up her roughly 830-square-foot lawn. She said it was worth every penny to keep her home of 33 years graced by an attractive yard.
Neighbors and friends have complimented the LoPrimos on their lawn's appearance, and she said one envious friend asked for the number of their contractor, Joe Perazzo.
Perazzo, who teaches physical education at Brooklyn's High School of Sports Management, began painting lawns during his summer break three years ago. His Staten Island company, Grass Is Greener Lawn Painting, has touched up close to 20 lawns this summer, making it his best year to date.
"I'm booked solid for next week. If you look around, most of the lawns need some TLC," Perazzo said.
He charges 15 cents per square foot to spray on a non-toxic, environmentally friendly turf dye that he said is commonly used on golf courses and athletic fields to give them a lusher appearance.
Perazzo said the dyed lawns will hold their verdant look for a few months, in some cases up to five months.
"It's a night-and-day difference," he said. "People are amazed by how natural it looks."
Kansas City, Mo.-based Missouri Turf Paint Inc. has been selling latex turf paints for more than 40 years. Company president Jon Graves said his primary customers are golf courses looking to keep their greens attractive and athletic fields "getting ready for show time."
But he said he's seen a slight increase this year in calls from people interested in either greening up residential lawns or wanting to get into the lawn-painting business.