How does your Austin lawn look in the 100+ degree drought?

We just had 12 16 days of 100+ degree heat in June 2009 in Austin, and we’re in the middle of a severe drought. As I drive around, showing and previewing homes in Austin, I see a lot of brown lawns. Even well watered lawns are suffering with brown spots, fungus, sun burn, thatching, grub worms, etc. This is just how it goes in a hot Austin summer. Most people know and understand this.

So imagine the shock and surprise that Sylvia and I recently experienced when the lawn shown in the slide show below, from one of our recent listings, was declared to be “dead” in numerous spots by an ultra picky buyer who, along with assistance from their Realtor, successfully extracted $650 from me and Sylvia under the threat that our seller would be sued otherwise. The amount demanded was purportedly so they could replace a pallet and a half of what they claimed was “dead” grass. The slideshow below was taken the morning of closing. You be the judge as to the condition of the yard being delivered to the buyers on closing day. If you just bought this home and drove up to move in on a 100 degree day, would you be upset and would you threaten to sue the seller for neglecting the yard?

(Original Slideshow removed upon request. Remaining photos show only the worst areas of the lawn but not the actual home

A pallet of grass covers 400 square feet of lawn, so a pallet and a half is 600 square feet of dead grass that you’d need to observe in these photos in order to agree with the amount of grass in question. That would be roughly ten 6ftx10ft areas of “dead grass”, or six 10ftx10ft areas ( 6 bedroom size areas). Do you see 600 sqft of grass that’s even brown in color, much less dead?

Yes there are some brown areas, but they are not dead. No competent landscaper would claim that this yard suffers from 600 square feet of dead grass. Yet the buyer’s and their agent were able to obtain two bids from landscapers for about $650 each for the replacement of 600 square feet of dead grass. I’m wondering if either of the landscapers actually visited the property. I showed my landscaper these photos and he laughed out loud and said “I wish half my yards looked that good”. Unequivocally he said he would not recommend replacement of any of this yard, that it was all normal for what he is seeing all over Austin and that they are fighting this battle on most of the yards they service.

Why didn’t we just say “no thanks, the grass looks fine and normal. It looks in fact exactly like the other yards in the neighborhood, if not better”.

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