Lawn painters see green in Calgary's dry weather

An exceptionally warm and relatively dry winter has many lawns in Calgary looking particularly brown — and that has Chris Kipfer seeing green. The Edmonton-based entrepreneur plans to bring his lawn-painting service south this season to offer Calgary homeowners a different way of dealing with turf that's tough to get growing.

'It has no benefits to the lawn. It’s 100 per cent simply esthetically appealing,' company owner says

The grass dye can last between two and three months, depending on conditions, according to companies that provide lawn-painting services. (CBC)

An exceptionally warm and relatively dry winter has many lawns in Calgary looking brown — and that has Chris Kipfer seeing green.

The Edmonton-based entrepreneur plans to bring his lawn-painting service south this season to offer Calgary homeowners a different way of dealing with turf that's tough to get growing.

"The lawns are not going from brown to green and a lot of customers want that esthetically appealing look on their lawn," he said.

Kipfer's company, Bugs Lawn Care, uses a type of non-toxic, long-lasting lawn dye that has become increasingly popular in North America.

"It has no benefits to the lawn," he said. "It's 100 per cent simply esthetically appealing. But it doesn't detriment the lawn."

The trend began in earnest in California, in response to persistent drought and frequent bans on lawn watering, before spreading to Vancouver and, later, Alberta.

Bugs Lawn Care employees apply green dye to an Edmonton woman's lawn last summer. (CBC)

Bugs Lawn Care began offering lawn painting in Edmonton last summer, and he's now gearing up to bring it to Calgary in the coming weeks.

He already has some competition in the city, however.

Philip Setter owns GreenSetter, a construction and landscaping company, and began dying lawns in Calgary last summer after seeing how the trend was "blowing up" in Vancouver.

He told the Calgary Eyeopener last August that he found particular interest in the service from real estate agents and home-staging companies looking to make over a property for a quick sale.

"It's instant curb appeal, right? Because that's the first thing you see when you walk up to the house."

D-I-Y lawn dye

But if you're the type that prefers to get your hands dirty, Setter said it's not necessary to hire a professional.

"Anybody can do this, it doesn't have to be me," he said, noting the dye product, called LawnLift, is readily available for purchase online.

"You put it in any home sprayer, mix it with water, shake it up and just spray it," he said. "It's pretty simple. It's just like a paint."

Kipfer said a single dye job can last as long as three months if the conditions are right, and the product doesn't hurt the grass or living creatures who venture onto a freshly dyed lawn.

"Your kids can still play on it, your pets can still run on it," he said. "It's totally eco-friendly and it doesn't run off in the rain."

'Green' with envy?

Kipfer admitted the product isn't for everybody and is even the butt of jokes, sometimes.

"We do get people mocking it," he said. "When we first looked at bringing in the product, we had people laughing at us."

But, he added, some people who start off being derisive of the idea end up being drawn to the look of the final product.

"When your neighbour has a nicer lawn than you ... it drives people nuts," he said.

"They want to have that nice lawn, just like their neighbours."

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