A town in the south of France has come up with a novel solution to keeping its amenities looking pristine during the dry summer months - painting dried-out grass green.
More than aesthetic pleasure, however, the ‘paint’ – an algae-based dye – protects against the heat and offers natural nutrients to help the plant regrow despite the intense heat.
“Without harming people or the environment, we are helping our green spaces to regain their beauty,” said Sébastien Leroy, mayor of Mandelieu-la-Napoule, a town near Cannes on France’s Mediterranean coast. He called it a “virtuous” example of innovation run by a local start-up.
The paint also “provides the grass with protection from the heat and precious natural nutrients to help them regain their vigour after the summer”, he added.
Mandelieu-la-Napoule, in the Alpes-Maritimes, is the first town in France to try such a solution, although golf courses in the US have been using a similar dye for around a decade.
Although the aesthetic side of the painting the grass keeps the town looking pleasant, the real benefits are to be found in how the dye will treat the grass.
The dye, which is made primarily of algae, provides the grass with essential nutrients to keep it from drying out further and giving it a chance to grow again once rain returns.
It is “100% organic” according to the mayor, and an alternative to pesticides.
Around 2000 m² of grass in the town has already been treated, and the procedure is set to repeat every three months.
#innovation— Sebastien LEROY (@SebastienLeroy_) July 26, 2023
Je vous présente une innovation assez insolite et vertueuse que nous sommes la première ville à déployer sur la Méditerranée grâce à une start-up de #Mandelieu ! Nous « peignons » le gazon desséché par la sécheresse grâce à une technologie 100% bio à base d'algues. pic.twitter.com/vwai3Yk46U
The dye also protects against the heat, something those in the region are increasingly concerned about.
Earlier this week, a wildfire started on the banks of the A8 road in Cagnes-sur-Mer, close to Mandelieu-la-Napoule, causing delays for drivers and a complete shutdown of train services in the south-east.
The Alpes-Maritimes department is one of those heavily affected by drought measures in France.
The official Vigie Eau website for tracking water restrictions currently has the Mandelieu-La-Napoule commune listed on a level two Alerte for drought conditions which includes such restrictions as a ban on watering gardens between 08:00 and 20:00.
The ‘painting’ of the grass also allows the town to conserve its precious water resources during the summer.
“We're treating all green spaces that don't have a natural watering point or automatic watering system, particularly in hot weather and to save water,” said the mayor.