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Calif.'s New Rage: Fake Grass

As drought rages on, it begins to make more sense
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2015 1:30 PM CDT
Calif.'s New Rage: Fake Grass
Cookie Smith lays on her artificial lawn, Friday, Oct. 10, 2008, in Garden Grove, Calif. Smith won a home-beautification award last year for her lush fake lawn from a city that bans artificial grass.   (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(Newser) – From the same drought that brought the nation lawn-painting comes yet another fad in faux greenery: Fake lawns, nicknamed "frass," are gaining popularity in parched California, which is cracking down on water use. With live grass requiring 55 gallons of water a year per square foot, and with rebates of up to $3.75 a square foot, the so-called "frass" begins to make sense financially, environmentally, and, some say, even aesthetically. "It feels totally different," Christopher Knight, who you might better know as the actor who played Peter Brady, tells the Washington Post. "Frankly, I’m not really sure why more people haven’t started doing it."

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Not everyone is a fan. The environmentally minded wonder about its effect in the waste stream, while others call it tacky. "You can’t be assured people won’t buy the cheapest Home Depot special," gripes the president of one homeowners' association that's banned fake grass. "Are you going to allow red, white, and blue turf?" And the product, though much improved over what the Post calls "the preternaturally green stuff that used to carpet the local miniature golf course," isn't perfect and it can get hot. "I leaped off onto the concrete," says a former horticulturist of a recent hot day. "I literally would rather walk on concrete." (Click for more on that lawn-painting fad.)

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