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THE LUSH LAWN THAT NEEDED NO WATER

Whatever happened to . . .

"His grass is always greener"; July 30, 2005; see past coverage at life.tampabay.com.

THE STORY: Greg Cooper and his father-in-law, Tod Mack, planted what had to be the greenest lawn in St. Petersburg. It required no watering or mowing, and the family dog loved it. When something seems too good to be true, it often is. The perfect lawn turned out to be plastic, a fact that troubled the city's hard-eyed code enforcement department. Another problem: Cooper and Mack wanted to sell plastic lawns to other Floridians.

FROM THE STORY: "As you read this, the city is trying to figure out what is to become of the Cooper savannah. . . . Meanwhile, as summer rains pound west-central Florida daily, real lawns gross an inch overnight. On Saturday morning the city comes alive with the roar of lawn mowers. Not at the Cooper abode.''

THE REST OF THE STORY: Cooper and his dad-in-law thought plastic lawns were going to revolutionize Florida by eliminating needless watering, mowing, pesticides, herbicides and pollution. Their faux lawn philosophy intrigued environmentalists and even media folk, including Jon Stewart of The Daily Show.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: The city said, "You crazy? No way we'll let you sell plastic grass to our residents!'' The city ordinance, you see, requires real vegetation, stuff with roots, in yards. Cooper sold his house and is now peddling faux grass, with his father-in-law, in Maryland. "We just decided you couldn't fight City Hall,'' Mack said the other day. "In Maryland, they're more forward-thinking.'' In St. Petersburg, meanwhile, the yard at 6547 Fifth Ave. N still boasts a mighty fine plastic lawn. The city, for now, is allowing it - as long as it doesn't start spreading, like crabgrass, into other yards.

Jeff Klinkenberg, Times staff writer

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