- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 2, 2015

It’s bristly, lush and there’s tangled thatch around the roots. And it’s fantastically faux. High-end synthetic grass looks like the real thing - even enough to please discerning Californians. So why not make it mandatory? The Synthetic Grass Warehouse - the nation’s largest distributor of the stuff - is calling upon California Gov. Jerry Brown to consider a fake grass law in the drought-stricken state, where residents use 6.4 billion gallons of water per day for lawn care. The Anaheim-based company suggests Mr. Brown propose a law where synthetic grass is a “both allowed and encouraged anywhere” - front yards, backyards, businesses, doggy runs.

“If everyone in California switched to synthetic grass, eliminating just the need to water our lawns, we would no longer be in a drought. We need to welcome this idea in today’s day and age as droughts are becoming more and more severe. Besides, there is absolutely no maintenance with synthetic grass and it has the same look and feel as real grass, so why wouldn’t you make the switch if you could?” reasons company co-founder Victor Lanfranco.

Indeed, this is not your grandfather’s astroturf. The fibrous tufts are richly textured and colored , available in a dozen varieties for home use alone. The grass part - non-absorbent and anti-bacterial - is groomed with a brush rather than a mower. “Imagine a California where water was no longer wasted on grass!” the company proclaims on a public poster.

There is water to save, however. The Atlanta-based Synthetic Turf Council estimates that replacing the typical 1,800 square-foot lawn with the faux stuff could save 99,000 gallons of water per year, per lawn. And there would be no pesticide or fertilizer run-off.

Gov. Brown, meanwhile, has proposed fines as high as $10,000 for “excessive water use,”and has ordered that water use be reduced by 25 percent statewide. City and county agencies along with retail and wholesale water agencies will be able to issue the penalties and enforce the restrictions.

“People are stuck between a rock and a hard place because most home owners associations require residents to water their lawn, while the state is simultaneously reducing their water usage. On top of that, some don’t even allow homeowners to install synthetic grass, so what do they do? This is where we need our governor to step in,” Mr. LanFranco explains.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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