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Landscape Artist

In the suburbs of Los Angeles, that green thumb might be spray paint

Author James Bartlett Illustration Luci Gutiérrez


CALIFORNIA – Kerri McCoy stands before a front yard in suburban Los Angeles, shaking her head in an exaggerated gesture of concern. Mostly, it’s lovely—palm trees swaying, a hummingbird flitting around a desert willow. The lawn, though, is another matter.

The lawn is an absolute nightmare.

California is in the midst of a long and terrible drought, which has ruined crops and scorched lawns up and down the state. Which is where McCoy comes in. Her company, Lawn Paint Pros, promises to restore the “curb appeal” of people’s frazzled yards by way of a spray gun, a tank of green dye and a knack for optical illusion.

A spiky-haired Harley-Davidson enthusiast, McCoy has been painting people’s lawns for about four years and generally averages about two jobs a day, though this number is climbing as the weather continues to be uncooperative. “In California, we’re used to green grass,” she says. “People obsess over their lawns.”

Even in normal conditions, the homeowners of LA and Ventura County go through about 50 gallons of her vegetable-based dye a month; for some people, the green that nature provides isn’t quite green enough. “They say the grass doesn’t look right,” McCoy says.

Today, watched by a few neighbors, she applies her “special sauce” in a sweeping motion, transforming her client’s fuzzy brown lawn into a fuzzy green one. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes from creating such a revival, says McCoy, but that’s not the only reason she loves her job. “Being outside in this weather every day,” she says. “What could be better?”

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