The spray-paint nozzle was aimed carefully at the edge as the painter stood back a few inches from the flat metal shovel meant to protect other surfaces. After laying down a couple of thin coats, he stepped back to admire his work.
The patch of grass had gone from a flat, yellowing green to a Wizard of Oz shade of emerald.
There are few people who see an upside to the record-setting drought in California, but Drew McClellan sees a path to business. Earlier this summer, when a friend began complaining about his browning front lawn, Mr. McClellan thought back to his childhood in Florida, where he often spotted golf courses using sprays to dye their greens. When a brief Internet search failed to show any local business offering a similar service, Mr. McClellan decided it was a prime opportunity.
And since he opened up shop in July, Mr. McClellan has been taking requests faster than he can keep up.
“No matter how weird people might think it is, everyone is getting to the point of considering something drastic,” Mr. McClellan said, taking a break from his other job working as a hair stylist at a retro-style barbershop.
As he and his wife sprayed down the lawn of Tony Felipe, who has lived in Long Beach for nearly 20 years, Mr. Felipe looked on with nods of approval.
For less than $400 — not much more than a regular water bill these days — he could see his lawn instantly turn green.
But even as browning grass or drought-resistant plants are popping up in front of ever more houses, few things are as alluring as a California green lawn, long a symbol of wealth and vitality.