As a young kid, I remember seeing those really cool stripes across the major ballparks or football fields when I watched games with my family, always curious as to how they managed to achieve that look.
Now much older I love to see those stripes that stretch across my local golf course, and whilst it might feel like those pristine lines are expertly placed there by the SUPER talented groundskeeper, they are actually achievable for your lawn too!
But how, you might ask?
The technique of placing flawless stripes, checkerboards and diamonds – as well as many other fantastical designs – onto your lawn is called “lawn striping” and can be done with surprisingly very little effort!
If you want to learn how to get this look of a clean and neatly patterned lawn, then read on!
- What is Lawn Striping?
- How to DIY Lawn Stripes In the Comfort of Your Own Home
- Step-By-Step on How to Stripe Your Lawn and Achieve Other Eye-Catching Designs!
- Which Mower is Best for Lawn Striping?
- 7 Tips and Tricks to Get Your Lawn Stripes Ballpark Worthy!
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What is Lawn Striping?
The art of lawn striping is achieved by creating contrasting colors on your grass through precisely placed lines caused by pressure on the grass blades in opposing directions. Whilst this might sound oddly strategic, the science behind it is actually quite simple!
The effect of lawn striping is actually the result of an optical illusion, would you believe?
The grass blades are methodically pressed down to achieve a flattened appearance that catches the sun in various directions – resulting in different patterns.
How to DIY Lawn Stripes In the Comfort of Your Own Home
So how exactly is this magic illusion achieved?
Lawn striping uses the science of reflectivity to create the contrasts we see along large stretches of grass at golf courses and football fields.
The technique requires that the lines be placed in an orderly fashion and that they are laid down with precision. The sun reflects off the flattened grass and depending on what direction you stand is how you’ll see which rows are lighter versus darker.
Lawn striping increases the contrasting colors that we see in these lines by making one row lighter whilst the next row darker. This contrast is what allows this pattern to stand out so sharply!
Using the direct sunlight to alternately reflect on the grass is the essence of this optical illusion!
In order to achieve this aesthetically pleasing art-on-grass look, you’ll need to skip mowing your lawn for a week (if you can!) as this technique requires slightly more growth on the blades.
Think of your lawn to be just like hair, in order for it to be styled, it needs some length to manipulate the direction that it’s flattened towards, we’ve all had that super short haircut that just cannot be styled, so the same way that short hair can’t be styled is the same way super short grass can’t be striped.
So, to perform this grass-bending approach you need to allow the grass-blades to be cut at 1.5” to 2” in the warmer seasons, whilst can be left at 1” to 1.5” in cooler seasons, as the general rule of ‘green’-thumb.
Grass-type can also have an impact on how effectively these patterns can be created.
It has been found that colder season grasses such as Fescue, Bluegrass and Ryegrass create the most contrasting effect whilst summer season grasses like Couch-grass, Kikuyu and Zoysia have a fainter effect as they are hardier and can be mowed lower.
So, based on the level of contrast that you would like, make sure to choose the right grass for your garden!
Prior to attempting the patterns, you want to make sure there are no foreign objects on your lawn that can have an impact on the final outcome of your lawn-striping and your safety.
As well as this, you’ll want to mow a perimeter around your lawn which creates a zone in which you can turn your mower, moreover, using a three-part y-turn will help you in a seamless maneuver to each stripe.
Step-By-Step on How to Stripe Your Lawn and Achieve Other Eye-Catching Designs!
As stated above, for all of these methods you need to start by mowing a perimeter around your lawn, this will give you some space to perform a tight three-point y-turn between each row you make.
How to Perform a Three-point Y-turn
- At the end of each row, enter the perimeter that you mowed beforehand and veer toward the next row.
- Drive forward into the next mowing row
Now let’s get started on your striping! Below are some super helpful step-by-step methods that you can use to stripe your lawn, but for a more visual explanation, you can watch a YouTube video below!
Basic Pattern: Stripes
Stripes are the easiest of the many designs that you can attempt and they can be done in as little as three steps! With this concept, you can adjust it so that you can develop more complex designs such as mowing circular lawn stripes!
- Mow your perimeter.
- Mow parallel lines as close to each other as you can manage, being sure to attempt a tight y-turn before you start the next row.
- Re-mow over your perimeter to hide your turns.
It’s THAT simple!
Checkerboard lines are also simple and follow the same concept as just plain stripes, just overlapping.
- Mow your perimeter.
- Follow the same steps as mowing stripes, except leave out re-mowing the perimeter.
- After you have mowed your last stripe, staying within the perimeter travel to the corner of your perimeter so that you are 90º with your current stripes.
- Mow another striped pattern all the way across.
- Re-mow your perimeter to hide your turn marks.
Criss-cross or Diagonal Checkerboards
This design is achieved by following the checkerboard method but at a diagonal degree.
- Create a mowed perimeter.
- Mow diagonal parallel rows across your lawn using the same method as the striping technique above.
- After your last row, move to the corner of your perimeter and start mowing more diagonal rows that are 90º to your previous lines.
- Mow over your turn marks in the perimeter.
How to Lawn Stripe Around Obstacles
Many gardens have trees or plant beds that are just a chore to mow around but you shouldn’t let this put you off of your lawn striping adventures! Lawn striping around obstacles may be a challenge but following the same principles as above it is super manageable!
You want to start by mowing a border around the obstacle, this may be the hard and inconvenient part, but it will help you having to slow right down when approaching the obstacle.
The best way that you can achieve the most seamless rows is by getting a maneuverable lawnmower, this added movement will mean you can slowly but surely get that tight turn and close rows.
Which Mower is Best for Lawn Striping?
So, now that you know how to create those infamous lawn stripes, which mower is actually best for the job?
If you want to get the best result, you’ll want the best equipment, as the better-quality mower that you have will not only make the task easier for you but also give you the best finish possible!
You can use any variation of mower for this technique, but it is really down to efficiency, as well as the user’s preference, you don’t want to use all your time doing this when you can get the job done in half the time with half the effort, too.
For the purpose of this article, I will talk about three main types of mowers that I believe will give you the best finish available as well as make the job as smooth as possible: zero-turn mowers, riding mowers and push mowers, all of which you can use to achieve lawn stripes in your own garden!
Before we get started, just be aware that whilst it is achievable without a striping kit, it is recommended that a striping attachment is used as they are beneficial and will give a better finish. You can also DIY a striping kit at home, something I elaborate on later in this article!
Using a zero-turn mower to create lawn stripes is fairly easy and straight forward, I believe it is of the more simple and effective ways to get those perfect lines across your lawn.
With a zero-turn mower, you can add a striping attachment that will apply pressure to the grass as you mow! With this method, you will still need to mow a perimeter around your garden for some leeway and then mow over your perimeter to reduce turn marks.
Using a zero-turn mower is great for landscaping acreage to get that ballpark finish and adding a striping attachment to your mower is great for achieving a consistent color contrast.
When using this type of lawnmower, you’ll want to raise your deck so that your grass length is cut a tad longer so that the striping kit can perfectly manipulate the grass blades.
Using a riding mower without a striping kit is simple but requires more work than a zero-turn mower.
Riding mowers are good for striping lawn without an attachment as you can lower the deck as much as possible to the ground so that the grass can be pressed down well.
Doing it this way, however, will require you to mow your entire lawn at the height you desire, preferably at 2” for easy blade-bending, and then with the blades unengaged and the deck lowered, go over your lawn in parallel lines, doing a sharp turn at the perimeter.
Once, again after you have striped your lawn to your satisfaction, you’ll need to go over the perimeter to hide any turn marks.
Don’t forget to check out the article Best Riding Lawnmowers for Rough Terrain.
Using a push mower is great for smaller yards with less lawn coverage and can help get the job done equally as well as when using a zero-turn mower or a riding mower.
Using a push mower is very similar to using a riding mower in that you mow over your entire lawn with the deck height set high enough to achieve a 2” height on your grass.
And then with the deck at its lowest and the motor off you can go over the grass in parallel lines. Still, with the motor off, you can go over your perimeter to hide your turns.
If you don’t want to use a mower to create the stripes, you can use a manual method using a handheld roller.
This method requires you to mow your lawn at a 2” height and then go over your lawn and apply pressure with a weighted roller.
You can use the same strategy as each of the other mowers, like mowing a perimeter and using a tight three-point y-turn, as this method can also provide you with super high contrast between rows.
You want to make sure that the roller you choose has a high weight content because the heavier the roller the more force will be applied and will ensure that the grass is flattened properly.
7 Tips and Tricks to Get Your Lawn Stripes Ballpark Worthy!
Now that you know how to stripe your lawn like a pro – below are some extra tips and tricks that you can do to make your stripes look even better!
- To make your stripes stand out even more, you can pass over each row multiple times. By doing this, you’re essentially flattening down the grass as much as possible, allowing for greater reflectivity from the sun – making your lines vibrant and a higher color contrast!
- Don’t cut your grass too short! Imagine your grass to be like a haircut, you need a bit more length to make the grass stay in a flattened position. Winter lawns are easier to manipulate as they hold more moisture in the blades making them less brittle, so they stay in shape.
- Keep your lawn super healthy! For that amazing green contrast, your lawn needs to be kept super lush, so make sure that you water and feed your grass to promote healthy growth.
- Consider purchasing a split-roller mower. The best lines are created when using the best machinery. Split-roller mowers let you get the best maneuverability so that your lines are super close and seamless!
- Always make sure that your blades are sharp when attempting lawn striping. We all hate when we mow our lawn, only to see jagged edges and patches – this is the last thing you want when you’re trying to get that impressive striped-lawn finish! Sharp blades ensure that your grass is cut evenly and smoothly, leaving no room for errors.
- Clear any leftover grass clippings. When you have clumps of grass clippings on your rows, this will reduce the reflectivity as well as turn dry and yellow, therefore, ruining all of your hard work!
- If you have many obstacles in your garden like trees or garden beds, the best approach is to divide up your garden and conquer each piece separately. If you have, for example, a large planter or stump in the middle of your yard, use that as a divider to mow those sections around it.
Is lawn striping bad for the health of your grass?
Lawn striping actually PROMOTES healthy lawn growth, how great!
When we mow our lawn in a single direction, we make grooves, truck marks and even some patches.
These deformities when only flattened in one direction can create a canopy over the grass that needs the most attention, meaning that eventually, you’ll get dryness and maybe even some dead grass, the last thing we want when we stripe our lawn!
Creating these stripes in your lawn means that your grass can get even exposure to the sun and watering, which obviously then promotes really great growth.
That being said, it is recommended that you alternate the direction that you flatten the rows each time you do this design so both sides get some TLC!
How long does lawn striping last?
Lawn stripes last as long as the grass grows and disappear through the growing process, so during the growing season will only last a few days.
Which grass is best for lawn striping?
Cooler season grass types are considered the best for striping as they retain water and can bend better. Fescue is the best cooler season grass to choose from out of the many variations as it is finer and can also maintain its health at the longer lengths needed for lawn striping.
If you want to attempt lawn striping with warmer season grasses, Zoysia is the better option as it is finer so can create the striping effect pretty well. But be aware that due to the stiffness of these grass types, the stripped appearance won’t stay as long as they do for cooler season grasses.
Don’t be afraid to attempt your lawn striping on either grass-type, cooler and warmer grasses can both achieve a flatter appearance, you might just need to tailor your method slightly for each.
To find out which grass type you would prefer, and which is mostly considered best, watch this YouTube video!
Can you stripe lawn without an attachment?
Striping lawn without a special flattening attachment is doable but may require more effort from you.
In order to do this, you have to mow your whole lawn at the 2” length and then with the blades disengaged and your deck as low as it can get, you can flatten the grass.
Whilst it still makes that striped look that you’re after, the stripes won’t be as defined on your first round, so you might want to go over it a few times to get a higher contrast.
How do I make a DIY lawn striper?
At-home lawn stripers are definitely a thing and aren’t actually hard at all! For a good striper to work, it’s all about weight as the heavier the striper, the flatter the grass will get.
For this task you’ll need:
- PVC pipes around 3” thick
- A sandbag
- PVC end caps
- Several plastic ties
- 3” hole saw (optional)
- Cut the PVC pipe to the length between your back tires.
- Measure the distance between the 2 places you will be tying the striper to on the mower and drill 2 holes that distance apart on the PVC pipe.
- Put an end cap on one end of the PVC pipe and fill it with sand and then close the end off with the other end cap.
- To attach this weighted roller to your mower you can use plastic cable ties. You want to keep the roller about 1” above the ground and to avoid it hitting the wheels of your lawnmower, you can also use the cable ties to pull them away.
- Now you’re ready to mow!!
For an in-depth tutorial on how to construct your own lawn striper, watch this great informative video on YouTube!
There you have it!
A super comprehensive guide on how to achieve those perfectly seamless stripes on your lawn, just like a professional ballpark! These tips and tricks will help you to not only create simple designs but also teach you how to develop more complex designs over-time.
Use this guide for yourself, and don’t be afraid to share it with your fellow happy gardeners – lawn striping is for everyone!
Do you know any tips I could learn about lawn striping? Let me know in the comments, I love to read your contributions!