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How To Stripe A Lawn Like A Pro – The Simple Secrets For Perfect Stripes!

I must admit, I never thought we would be writing a “How To Stripe Your Lawn With Your Mower” article, but after posting a new Old World Garden Facebook cover photo last week of the lawn, we received an abundance of emails wanting to know exactly how we get those stripes to appear.

Some came in the form of equipment questions such as:

  • What type of mower do you need to create those stripes in you lawn?
  • Do you use or need a special blade?”
  • Do you have to fertilize heavy to make the green come out like that?

But perhaps our two favorites were folks who wondered if we were painting the lines on, or wanted to know what filter we were using on our cell phone camera to make the lines appear.

how stripe a lawn
After posting this photo to our OWG Facebook page, we received a lot of emails about striping a lawn. The simple fact is, you don’t have to have fancy rollers or equipment to stripe your lawn. It’s all about direction, lawn height, and sharp blades too!

The real truth is that we don’t use any of the above mentioned products to stripe our farm’s lawn. Nor do we fertilize our grass with anything special. In fact, we’re proud to say it is actually 100% fertilizer-free, and always will be.

Creating Natural Striping In Your Lawn

As for full disclosure, it is true there are special mower attachments and even mowers available that can stripe your lawn in all types of interesting and incredibly complex ways.

But the simple fact is, you don’t need them. In fact, armed with just a few simple tips and secrets, anyone can create great looking stripes in their lawn. No matter what kind of mower or attachments you might use. And here’s how to do it with ease!

How To Stripe A Lawn Like A Pro – The Secrets To Success

How & Why Stripes Appear

There are several factors that go into making stripes in your lawn. But first, it’s important to know why and how stripes appear in the first place.

The white and dark stripes you see above are a direct result of which way the sun is reflecting off of the blades. If you were at the top of the hill looking down, the lighter stripes would appear dark, and the dark would appear lighter.

The stripes you see in any lawn are a direct result of the sunlight reflecting off of the direction of the blades of the grass.

Even when the sun is behind the clouds, there are enough rays of light getting through to reflect off of grass. But the sunnier it is, the more the stripes will come out.

So why are one set of stripes dark and the other lighter? It’s all about which way the mower passes over them. And, which direction it bends the blades of grass to reflect the sun.

Light and Dark Stripes In A Lawn

When you look at a lawn’s striping, the lines coming toward you will always appear darker, and the lines going away from you will appear light. This is because as the mower’s blades cut the grass, it pushes or bends the blades in a forward direction.

A push or riding mower will stripe on its own, but some serious lawn-striping folks use add-on rollers for the back of their mower that bends the grass over as they mow to create even more of a deep striping effect. No worries though, you can still make some great stripes without the expense!

As you mow back and forth, the blades are then bent in opposite ways as you go in each direction. And depending on which way the sun hits them, you then get the dark or light stripes from the reflection.

How You Mow Matters

So if you are looking to create beautiful stripes in your yard, how should you mow?

Well, for starters, you need to always mow back and forth in the same two directions during a single mowing. And that means no mowing in squares or sections, but long back and forth passes.

When you mow in squares, or section off parcels of your lawn to mow, the multiple directions your mower passes makes striping impossible.

mowing lines in a field
Always mow back and forth, from either right to left, or vice versa. This allows the blades of grass to be bent in alternating patterns, which creates the striping effect. If you mow in squares or circles always in the same direction, no lines will appear at all.

Instead, start on one end or side your lawn, and work all the way across. Always going in the same two directions as you do, back and forth. This allows the mower to bend the blades of grass in only two directions, resulting in stripes.

It Takes A While…

You must understand that the first time you do this, it will show a bit of striping, but not deep stripes. But as long as you mow starting in the same line, and in the same direction each time, the stripes will get deeper and deeper with each mowing.

We have mowed our lawn so many times, we always know where we start and which direction we need to begin. But it can get confusing for sure in the beginning to always make sure you are starting off in the right direction.

Luckily, there is a secret to always knowing you are going the right way. Just always remember that the line you are mowing as you go forward should always be the lighter stripe. Even when you get to the end of a stripe and turn around, it should still be the lighter stripe coming back because the bend will be with you as you look forward.

 mowing the grass
Mow into the same stripe, in the same direction each time you mow. This will allow the stripes to get darker and darker with each mowing. You should always be mowing in the direction of a light stripe.

And remember, the straighter you keep that mower, the straighter your lines!

Making Patterns

And for those that want to make criss-cross stripes in your lawn, simply mow north-south one time, and east-west the next. Again, always making sure to start in the same line and in the same direction each time you start mowing. If you want an angled lawn, then simple mow left and right, back and forth on an angle.

Beyond the back and forth, there are two other major aspects to getting deeper striping. The first is using a higher mowing height, and the second is the sharpness of your blades.

#1 Lawn Height

The number one key to having deep, beautiful stripes in your lawn also happens to be the number one key to a healthy lawn – mowing your lawn higher!

The higher you mow your lawn, the more length there is for the blades of grass to bend. And the more they bend, the more they reflect. But mowing your yard higher has so many more advantages than just striping.

stripe a lawn like a pro
For a criss-cross pattern, alternate your mowing patters each time you mow. One East-West, one North-South.

For one, it allows the lawn to retain moisture, which keeps it greener. And all of those thick, tall blades also help to keep weed seeds from finding a home in the surface below. For the healthiest lawn, and the best striping effect, mow your lawn at least 3 1/2″ high.

#3 Sharpen Those Blades

Finally, the sharper the blades on your mower, the crisper and cleaner the cut and bend. It’s simple, dull blades tear the grass instead of cutting it clean.

In the process, the tips of the grass actually bruise and turn brown. Instead of bright, healthy green grass, you end up with a brown lawn that looks like it needs watered – when the real issue is simply dull blades.

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Sharpen blades at least every month to keep a clean edge and a sharp cut. And while you are at it, keep the underside of your mowing deck free and clear of clumped grass too.

All of that extra build-up underneath keeps your blades from operating efficiently. And the better they operate, the more they will bend that grass for perfect stripes!

Here is to striping you lawn like a pro – without any special equipment at all! Happy mowing -Jim and Mary.

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