How to Stripe a Lawn in 6 Steps

Whether it’s a sports field or your neighbor’s big-league landscaping that’s giving you lawn envy, a technique called lawn striping will give your yard that manicured look. But it’s not quite as easy as just mowing in a straight line or in different directions.

Depending on what kind of grass you have, the time of year, or even what type of lawn mower you use, there are some rules to striping. 

Here’s how to stripe a lawn, whether it’s a basic stripe or a fancier design you want.

How Striping Works

You create stripes in your lawn by bending the grass blades in opposite directions as you mow. Light reflects differently on grass bent in one direction than in the other.

Keep that basic principle in mind. Everything else you do, from choosing grass variety to mowing equipment, will be done to increase the amount of bend and cause it to hold longer.

6 Steps to Striping a Lawn

  1. Mow a border around the edge of your lawn.
  2. Choose a direction, e.g. go north-south or east-west.
  3. Mow the full length of the lawn, parallel to a border line, for the first full stripe.
  4. When you reach the border on the other side, lift the mower deck and turn the mower around before lowering the deck.
  5. Mow a new stripe next to the last one.
  6. Repeat as needed.

Regular Mowers Won’t Cut It (as Well)

You don’t have to go out and buy an expensive new lawn mower, but you do need to know what you’re up against. Major League Baseball field crews don’t use typical household mowers. MLB literally wrote the book on lawn striping, and according to the official manual, rotary push lawnmowers only work on residential lawns. At the pro baseball field, it’s most likely a reel mower. “Reel mowers are more specialized and are used on higher maintenance facilities like golf courses and athletic fields. These mowers require additional training to operate. Reel mowers are used to provide better quality cuts and allows very low cutting heights,” the manual says.

Lawn Rollers

While you don’t need to run out and buy a reel mower, you will need a lawn roller. A striping kit and sharp mower blades will also put you in the ballpark with the big league lawn stripers. These kits come complete with mounting hardware.

  • You can find them at home improvement stores or on Amazon.
  • It will cost around $100 – $150 for a decent one.
  • Make sure you buy a roller that’s compatible with your lawn mower. It should be labeled.
  • You may have to fill it with sand or water to provide the weight needed to get your grass to lay down in the direction of the lawn roller.

Grass Types, Mowing Height Matter

Not all grass is created equal when it comes to striping, and your technique must vary with the seasons. The grasses that take to striping the best are cool-season varieties such as fine fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. They have long, flexible blades that easily bend in the direction of the lawn roller. Warm-season grasses such as St. Augustine have more rigid blades that spring back from the lawn roller. If your lawn consists of the stiffer warm-season kind, it’s more likely to bed and lie flat in the spring and fall, when the temperatures are a little lower. In the peak of the summer heat, those grass blades are less likely to lay how you want them. Keep in mind that cool-season grasses thrive best in spring and early fall. You’re also likely to get the best results from those varieties when the temperatures aren’t soaring into their July and August peaks.

Mowing height is another major factor in lawn striping. Experts say never mow your lawn too closely, or you risk the health of the grass. Grass that has been scalped also tends to be less green. If you want to stripe your lawn, you have another reason to let it grow a little longer. The longer the blades of grass, the more distinct your stripes will be. That’s because there is more grass blade to lay in one direction and reflect light. Generally, you should keep your lawn between 2.5 to 4 inches long if you want that fancy design.

Bonus: For a Checkerboard Pattern

  • Using the directions above, mow your lawn into basic stripes.
  • Once you complete the stripes, mow new stripes over the first stripes, but at a 90-degree angle.

There’s even more you can do with your grass if you have the inclination. Lawn stripe patterns are limited only by your imagination, the size and shape of your lawn and your lawn mower. Consider waves, circles, even an argyle-like pattern. For inspiration (we’ll call it “lawnspiration”), there are photos and videos online for the aspiring sports turf groundskeeper to check out.

Main image credit: AdamKR, CC2.0

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Written by Bob Greenly

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

About Wikilawn

Wikilawn’s mission is to provide the best resources and information to help you enjoy your outdoor spaces the way you want. Whether you are a DIY, lawn-loving, gardening guru, or someone who wants help in picking a local lawn care professional, we can smooth your path to a beautiful backyard!

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