Amid drought, grass isn't greener for California sod farmers

OXNARD, Calif. -- In drought-stricken California, the grass is no longer always greener -- especially for those in the sod business.

Acres and acres of sod stretch across a field in Oxnard. The lush grass has been Jurgen Gramckow's livelihood for 45 years.

"People like their lawns, and all of a sudden, they have now become the focus of all evil," Gramckow said. "It makes me nuts."

After years of severe drought, lawns have become the subject of ridicule. So-called "drought shaming" is all over social media. Even California Gov. Jerry Brown has weighed in.

"The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that's gonna be a thing of the past," Brown said in April, when he announced historic -- and mandatory -- water restrictions.

California's Water Board is now threatening stiff penalties for those who don't cut back on their water use. Even so, homeowner Steve Trentacosta plans to keep his lawn green.

"Drought-shamers, maybe they have nothing better to do. They really don't bother me," Trentacosta said.

In many parts of Southern California, homeowners are getting rebates to rip out their lawns and replace them with drought-tolerant landscaping.

"I mean, you take lawns out and you put bark and bushes in, where are your kids and dogs going to play?" Gramckow said. "Lawns didn't cause the drought, and lawns aren't going to solve the drought."

"It makes me angry because that is just putting a target right on my back," he said. "Everybody is about, 'Get rid of the lawn.' Well, just wait a minute."

Gramckow said he's losing a lot of business right now but doesn't think the trend will last.

"People will go back to green lawns," he said. "I think the lawn is part of the American dream. I just don't think you change that."