How to Stripe Your Lawn

by | Aug 17, 2021

They say looks aren’t everything. That’s especially true when we talk about well-manicured yards that benefit from a mowing technique called lawn striping.

“It makes the yard look a lot nicer than if you just cut it in a circle or if you overlap it,” said Timothy Lee, founder and president of Turf-Pro Lawn Care & Landscaping in Dayton, Ohio. “It just gives it a cleaner cut and a cleaner look.”

You may not be aware that striping does more than make your lawn look beautiful, it’s also good for the grass.

A striping pattern is created when blades of grass are bent in different directions and, when reflected in light, create a sharp visual appearance: grass that is bent toward you will appear dark green, grass bent away from you will have a light green color. When you intentionally bend the blades of grass in alternating directions – commonly done by applying pressure with rollers that are attached to the lawnmower – you effectively stripe your lawn.

Health and beauty combined

So the lawn looks cool, yes, but if you stripe your lawn often enough, you’re also promoting healthy grass growth.

Here’s why: if you were to consistently mow your grass in the same direction time after time throughout the season, grass blades would bend only one way, encouraging taller blades to block newer, smaller blades from getting sunlight. The smaller blades would eventually die, which in turn would thin the grass and even create bare spots in the lawn.

Also, cutting in the same pattern will create tire marks and ruts in the lawn. By varying the pattern and changing how the blades bend, you are encouraging the grass to grow, with every blade getting ample sunlight.

“I switch up my lines, so the grass that gets laid down by my tires is getting cut equally like the rest of the grass,” said Timothy Lee. “Absolutely beautiful how a properly maintained yard looks with a gorgeous set of stripes.”

If you’ve never done it, it will take some practice to get good at making stripes, but the technique is not too difficult to master.

Keep it simple

If you’re just starting out, go for simple pinstripes in a north/south or east/west pattern.

For best results, experts suggest mowing the border of your lawn first, then mow the length of the yard in a single direction. At the opposite end of the lawn, lift the blade deck and turn around, then mow a new stripe next to the first one. Continue the process until the entire yard is cut.

Focus on keeping your lines straight.

“If you want to run a perfect line, don’t look down, look ahead,” offers Chris Dobert, owner and operator of Dobert and Sons Landscaping of Greensboro, N.C. “Find something to line up with on the horizon, look right at it and go straight to it.”

The mistake inexperienced mowers can make, Chris says, is when they look down at the scalper wheel, a habit that tends to put an arc in the grass.

Every two weeks, change up the pattern. If, say, you went north/south this time, go north/south the next.

As you get more experience, improve your skill, and gain confidence you can experiment with more elaborate patterns and designs.

Another pro tip: avoid short cuts. Stripes standout when you use rollers on taller grass because there will be more bend in the blade.

Also keep in mind, stripes will vary in vibrancy depending on the type of grass in your yard. Cool-season grasses such as Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass are ideal for striping. Warm season grasses like Bermuda and Centipede won’t stripe as well because there’s not as much blade as there is stem.

One last thing: don’t forget to keep your lawnmower blades sharp. It will give a nice, clean cut. The cleaner the cut, the more you’re encouraging the grass to grow healthy and strong.

Chris Dobert, like other lawn care professionals, prides himself on his signature striping.

Now you can, too.

“Dropping fresh stripes never gets old.”