OAKHURST – The world famous Talking Bear at the corner of Highway 41 and 426 is staying right where he is, while the ground around the iconic statue will soon be transformed.
Owners of the property where the bear stands plan to remove the existing fading, water-guzzling grass with synthetic turf, in a move that will save precious water during the ongoing drought.
Century 21 Ditton Realty has hired a well-known specialty firm to do the work and it’s currently scheduled for the end of March.
“We have signed a contract with SYNLawn to replace the grass on the corner with artificial turf,” Billie Ditton explains. “The stuff is really amazing and will look great once it’s complete.”
SYNLawn is an innovator in the field of artificial turf. The company’s faux grass is commonly used for home putting greens and around pools, and myriad public locations, as they offer product in a range of palettes depending on the look a customer is trying to achieve and for what cost.
Billie says the new product they’ve chosen typically runs about $8 per square foot. “This includes all of the prep, materials and clean-up. We’ll also be dressing up the landscaping with some water-wise drought tolerant plants,” including lantana.
Why the change? Brad Ditton has made calculations based on the water use shown by Hillview Water Company meter readings, and he reports that the live grass they have now requires as much as 265 gallons per day to maintain a good color for the lawn.
“This is clearly a poor use of fresh water, especially during the present drought,” says Brad. “We want to be good neighbors and be part of reducing wasteful water use.”
The Dittons want to let the community know that sign posts will no longer be allowed on the corner, a new edict that may leave some people frustrated and others happy to see the Talking Bear won’t be blocked by signs anymore.
The reason for the no-signs-posted rule has to do with the new turf.
“The artificial grass has a solid backing much like carpet,” note the Dittons. “Sign posts of any size driven through the material will cause severe damage.” The couple reminds people that signs can still be posted across the street on the corner outside Rite Aid.
When it’s all said and done, the new landscaping at Ditton’s Talking Bear corner is expected to require approximately three to five gallons of water per day.