Last updated on March 19th, 2023 at 12:35 am
Having a lawn is one thing. Making it neat, beautiful and attractive though is where the job lies. Lawn striping is one of those tasks that helps you achieve the latter, which involves cutting patterns into your lawn using a mower and a roller attachment.
You might have seen this before when you visit your favorite golf course or any other sports pitch, and might have wondered how the people who maintain these lawns managed to create those beautiful patterns you see.
Just to keep your mind at ease, no special type of grass or turf was planted to create these patterns, nor where the grasses painted to achieve this. No fancy equipment is needed to create these patterns. All they did to create them is simply employ a mowing technique known as lawn striping.
The process of striping your lawn involves mowing it in a straight line in one direction followed by mowing adjacent to the first line mowed in the opposite direction.
In this article, I’m going to show you a few things or tips you should know before striping your lawn, so that you can achieve the desired look and effect. Then I’m going to show you how the striping is done and how to achieve different kinds of stripe patterns.
How lawn striping works
As already mentioned above, you don’t need any fancy equipment to stripe your lawn. All you need is your lawn mower, and maybe a simple roller attachment. Then, you just have to mow it in straight alternating directions, which bends the blades of the grass in opposite directions.
As light rays shine on the grass, blades of grass that are bent towards you reflect the light away from you because they’re bent towards you. You also see the shadows cast by the blades of the grass under the grass. This makes the grass look dark green to you.
The blades of grass that are bent away from you reflect light towards you, making them look light green in color.
This alternating green and dark look of the grass create the stripes and patterns that makes everything about lawn striping possible.
What you need to stripe your lawn
To stripe your lawn, you obviously need a lawn mower or lawn tractor with the ability to bend the grass in one direction as it mows towards that direction.
If your mower isn’t effective enough in bending the grass as you mow it, you can always buy a lawn striping kit or attachment to add to your mower.
This usually consist of a heavy roller or set of smaller rollers attached to the mower, which rolls and presses the grass flat on the ground as you mow through the lawn, bending them towards the direction you’re mowing towards.
Lawn striping patterns – how to create them
There are different types of patterns you can create, when you bend grass with your mower in alternating directions. Let’s start with the basic pattern.
Basic lawn stripes
To achieve the basic lawn stripe shown in the image above, first you have to mow round the perimeter of the lawn.
Then, starting from one side of the lawn in the direction you want the strips to follow, mow a straight line through the full length of the lawn.
When you reach the end of that line, turn the deck of the mower and mow the adjacent stripe in the opposite direction.
Keep mowing in alternating adjacent stripes until you finish the whole lawn. Once you cover the whole lawn, you can look back at everything and see the beautiful lawn stripes you’ve created.
Related: Lawn Dethatching – Everything You Need To Know
Checkerboard lawn stripes
Once again, you need to begin by mowing the perimeter around the lawn. Next, you need to mow a basic lawn stripe as described above on the lawn.
Conclude by mowing the basic lawn stripe again, but perpendicular to the first stripes you’ve created.
This will create a checkerboard pattern on your lawn.
Related: The Best Robotic Lawn Mowers for Busy Homeowners
Crisscross or diagonal lawn stripe pattern
You can have a diagonal basic pattern or a diagonal checkerboard pattern on your lawn depending on which one looks more appealing to you.
To create this pattern, just use the same technique to create a basic or checkerboard pattern, but simply start applying the stripes diagonally from the lawns edge.
Zigzag stripe pattern
To create a zigzag, you need to first create a diagonal or checkerboard pattern. The checkerboard is the template you need to start the zigzag pattern.
Once the checkerboard is created, find a light or dark stripe towards the center of the checkboard pattern. Mow across one of the interesting dark stripes to the left and onto the next light stripe.
While you’re on the light stripe, carefully turn the mower at 90 degrees to the right and mow across through a dark stripe onto the next light stripe.
Repeat until you get to the edge of the lawn. Once you get to the edge, move the mower to the next light colored stripe close to the first zigzag pattern you just created and repeat the same steps again across the whole lawn to create the zigzap lawn stripes pattern.
Benefits of lawn striping
Without striping your lawn, you tend to mow your lawn in a single direction all the time, which is detrimental to the healthy growing of the lawn.
When you mow across a single direction all the time, it creates grooves, mower track marks, low spots and low-growth areas in your lawn, ultimately making your lawn uneven.
A lawn becomes uneven when lower grass blades bend over shorter grass blades, creating a canopy over the short grass blades and obstructing their access to sunlight.
Short grass blades with limited access to sunlight will eventually die off, causing your lawn to have dead grass spots all over it. This is what leads to an uneven and unhealthy lawn.
On the other hand, when you stripe your lawn and always change the stripe pattern of the lawn from time to time, you ensure all the grass blades are equal, getting equal amount of sunlight, which results in a uniform, lush and healthy looking lawn.
Lawn striping tips you should know
1. Don’t cut the grass too short
When you stripe your lawn, the shorter you cut the grass, the harder it is for them to bend under the roller and thus the lower the intensity of the lawn stripes created.
Taller grass blades however can bend and retain their bent shape more easily than short ones. This ensures there’s more surface of the grasses reflecting light, and a darker deeper shadow is created for the dark stripes to be more pronounced.
So, when striping your lawn, ensure you don’t cut the grasses too short. The ideal grass height should be between 2.5 inches and 4 inches.
Anything shorter than that, and your stripes will not look as intense as you want them to be.
2. Change stripe patterns every mowing section
Using the same lawn pattern every time can make the grass lie flat permanently, making it difficult to change the pattern when you finally decide to change it, or worse create uneven and dead spots on your lawn.
So, you need to always change the stripe pattern for your lawn, maybe ones every two weeks, so that the lawn can grow easily, and so it can be easy to change the pattern whenever you want it changed.
If you mow a basic pattern that goes from east to west this week, next week or next 2 weeks you can mow a basic pattern that goes from north-south, or you can even mow a checkerboard pattern.
Just try to always change the pattern so your lawn can continue to grow lush and green.
3. Grass species best for striping
Not every grass will produce good and distinct stripe patterns. Cold season grasses are the best for lawn striping, because they contain more water, have longer grass blades and thus are easier to bend and retain their shape after striping.
Warm season grasses on the other hand have blades that are shorter, contains less water, are more rigid and resistant to bending.
Even if you manage to stripe them, they don’t hold their shape and the stripes won’t stay for long. Ideal cold season grasses for striping include fescues, rye grass and bluegrass.
Warm season grasses like Bermuda grass and Zoysia can be striped but the appearance will not be sharp and intense like their cold season counterparts.
Lawn Striping Kit
Like I mentioned earlier lawn striping involves bending of the grass blades in alternate directions as you mow through them. Your mower alone can achieve that effect to some extent but may not be able to produce very visible and distinct stripe patterns. That is why you need a striping kit installed on it.
A lawn striping kit is usually made up of a heavy roller attachment that rolls behind your mower as you push it through your lawn.
One good option I can recommend is the one from LAWN STRYPER from SBLawnSystems which is designed for use with 20 inch to 22 inch gas powered walk-behind mowers.
This is specifically designed for gas powered mowers. So if you’re using a battery or corded unit, this will not be compatible with it.
The kit comprises the roller, hardware to attach it to your walk-behind mower, roller cover, and instruction manual to help you mount it on your mower.
The roller is mostly empty, so you have to fill it with sand to make it heavy before attaching it to your mower.
Once it’s attached, it can be removed easily as well when you’re done using it.