MODESTO, Calif.  — The grass is always greener—at least until there’s a severe drought that prompts water restrictions and causes landscaping to turn brown. A few companies in the Central Valley are looking to fix that by offering lawn painting as a solution.

Ronnie Blackburn, Green Again Lawn Solutions, Modesto, has been painting lawns since June, but he’d been considering the idea for a couple of years. It took him a while to find the right equipment and secure the proper permits.

“I took this up a couple years ago because of the amount of empty homes we have here in Modesto and Stanislaus County as a whole,” said Blackburn. “Curbside is everything. I went out looking for a house, and all the lawns are dead and just look horrible. I was thinking there was something we could do to make the lawns look nice since the water has already been turned off. The drought just came into play.”

California is in the fourth year of a record drought. Last spring Gov. Jerry Brown instituted mandatory water cutbacks of 25 percent, cities have imposed restrictions on watering lawns and many homeowners and businesses are replacing grass with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Advanced Landscaping Company in Modesto and RX Lawn Care Solutions, which covers San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties as well as part of the Bay Area, also recently started offering lawn painting services.

While the pricing and services provided by the three companies are similar, there are some differences. Both Green Again Lawn Solutions and Advanced Landscaping apply the paint themselves at a cost of 20 cents per square foot or about $200 for a 1,000-square-foot lawn. RX Lawn Care Solutions has partnered with TurfWorks, which provides the paint.

The paint from TurfWorks is nontoxic and biodegradable. The product Green Again Lawn Solutions uses is called Greener Fairways, which is also non-toxic and biodegradable and made from plant matter. Advanced Landscaping applies Natural Green Grass Patch, which is nontoxic and labeled safe for the environment, children and pets.

RX Lawn Care Solutions, Advanced Landscaping and Green Gain Lawn Solutions said the final product looks pretty authentic. “As long as you maintain it, it looks pretty good,” said Advanced Landscaping ‘s Mario Rameno. “It is real grass. It’s just got the paint.”

Romeno said once a lawn has been painted, homeowners should reduce watering to once a week. That is just enough to keep it from dying. He said once it rains, the grass will come back and turn green again.

Blackburn said the service is attracting a lot of interest. “It’s starting to really fire up well,” Blackburn said. “It seems to be right now I can’t keep up. I’m having a hard time keeping [the paint] in stock.