Our brown grass signs hit the TV screens

My lawn is dead, and now it’s been on TV. I mentioned a few weeks ago how I have been helping my kids make and sell signs to promote water conservation (we have a very severe drought in California). Anyway, Good Day Sacramento showed up to our brown parcel to do a story last week, and Fox 40 and CBS also did a piece recently too. Someone in Texas reached out to me to let me know the CBS story aired there too. Pretty wild, right? This was fun, so I definitely wanted to share. You can watch below and smile with me about our little signs making it to the tube.

Good Day Sacramento story (watch below or here):

The Foreclosure Look or The Conservation Look? I know brown grass isn’t really sexy, and my lawn looks like I’m going through a foreclosure. But the clincher for me to stop watering was driving by Lake Shasta two months ago. My jaw literally dropped after seeing how profoundly low the lake was. Yes, my ego does take a hit because my lawn isn’t perfect, but in this case conservation trumps image for me. In light of the severity of the drought I’ve simply had to redefine what brown grass represents. Instead of thinking of it as ugly “foreclosure lawn”, it’s instead the look of conservation and civic pride as a Californian. I don’t know about you, but when I see images like the one below, I’m alarmed and motivated to act.

lake-shasta-drought-03Feb2014

CBS Story (watch below or here):

Fox 40 Story (watch below or here):

brown-grass-is-sexy-sign

The Big Point: Whether you like the sign or not, or agree with my decision to “go brown”, I hope you’re encouraged to do all you can to save water inside and outside your home. Please know I’m not judging how others use water either.

Thanks for watching today. This project has been a blast for my family.

Question: What do you think are the best ways to save water for a household?

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The drought, fake turf, and a sign project with my kids

How is the drought impacting real estate? What are you seeing neighbors do with their lawn in light of the drought? I’m seeing a combination of some brown lawns by choice, definitely more xeriscaping, fake turf on occasion, as well as some lawns that are as green as ever. Overall it seems locals are slowly beginning to scale back how much they water their lawns, which can potentially change the way a neighborhood looks if done on a large scale. This begs the question, is the drought beginning to shape what buyers want in a front yard? Are we to the point yet where buyers will pay a premium for landscaping that saves water? What do you think?

Let me share a couple photos today and then tell the story of what we did for our front yard (which ended up taking an unexpected turn).

Fake Turf: Here is an example of fake turf I saw recently in Roseville. This may be commonplace in other parts of the country, but it has definitely not been common here. I have seen fake turf also in Folsom. The owner said the “lawn” was well received by mostly every buyer beyond one prospective buyer who wondered if the turf would get too hot and burn her feet. What do you think?

fake turf - photo by sacramento appraisal blog

Xeriscaping: This is an example of xeriscaping I came across in Rancho Cordova. Xeriscaping is a “landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques” (Merriam-Webster). This is becoming more ordinary, and if the drought persists beyond this year, I suspect we will see many more lawns go this direction.

xeriscaping example in rancho cordova

My Lawn Status & Our Sign Story: I decided to completely stop watering my lawn to conserve water. Yeah, I’m that guy. On a serious note though, after seeing how low Lake Shasta was a few weeks ago, it really made an impression on me. This is no judgment against anyone if your lawn is green, but for my household we decided it was time to let the grass die (we’ll still water our trees though). Since not everyone has a brown lawn in my neighborhood, I wanted to make a sign for the yard to help explain why our lawn is brown. This is what I came up with because I thought it would be both funny and provocative.

brown grass is sexy sign

As soon as I posted a photo of the sign on Instagram, people began telling me I should sell these signs. That definitely wasn’t anything I was thinking about, but I asked my two sons (8 and 10) if they wanted to do a little sign business for the summer. I talked to them about water conservation, and then risk, capital, hard work, potential profit, customer service, etc… and they were game. The deal was for me to be the investor, we would make the signs together, and they would keep any profit once I was paid back. We’ve been selling the signs for $15 each.

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My garage has been chaos these past two weeks, but it has been so much fun watching my boys go to work, and to have some amazing conversations about business. Granted, this sign is not for everyone because of the word “sexy”. In fact, some people have complained a bit about the word, but it’s only meant to get conversation going. My hope is people will be more inspired to action rather than stuck on one word. We may do a different slogan at some point though.

brown grass in land park

Marketing a Dead Lawn: An investor friend bought one of our signs to put in the front yard of a current flip in South Land Park, and another real estate friend bought one yesterday to do the same for one of his listings. I did not expect for our sign to collide with my world in real estate, but then again, how to market a dead lawn is something on the radar in today’s real estate landscape.

Questions: How is the drought impacting neighborhoods and real estate? What do you think about fake turf? I’d love to hear your take.

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