As any astute gardener will know, there are a few pro tips and tricks you can use that will elevate your yard from just mediocre and acceptable to giving it a highly professional look. It’s the small details that make a big difference, things like using a lawn edger to keep the borders of your lawn sharp and tidy or preventing small weeds from taking root in the gaps in your patio.
However, one of the easiest things you can do to give your yard a striking touch of class is to cut stripes when you mow the lawn. We’ve all seen how great pro sports stadiums look when the ground staff prepare them for a big match, and the good news is, it’s easy to obtain the same effect at home too. Here’s how it’s done.
A bit of theory
Have you ever wondered how the ground staff manage to get those pitches looking the way they do when you see them on tv or at the stadium? Well, the truth is, there’s no real magic to how it’s done – in fact, it’s actually quite simple.
The reason grass appears to be striped is that when it is mown, the blades are flattened in different directions and so reflect the light differently, giving the impression of stripes.
This means that to achieve the desired effect, all you need to do is flatten the blades of grass in opposite directions and you will have a stunning lawn that will be the envy of your friends and neighbors.
To achieve a perfect striped lawn, there are several ways to do it, and you don’t necessarily need too much specialist equipment – all you need is something that will flatten the blades of grass in the direction you mow.
The best tool for creating a striped lawn is a dedicated rear roller mower. With one of these, the blades cut the grass and then the roller flattens the blades as it passes over, giving you the striped effect.
If you don’t have a roller mower, you can also use a separate roller to flatten your lawn after mowing (these can be rented if you don’t want to buy one).
This is more time-consuming, especially if you have a larger lawn, since you will have to cover the lawn twice. However, it will highlight the stripes and achieve the same effect.
Alternatively, some people opt for a DIY solution, rigging up a homemade flattener to their regular mower. All you need is something you can attach to the back of your mower that you drag behind and flatten the blades of grass.
If you are the kind of creative gardener who can manage this, it can be a quick and cheap solution.
As long as you have the right mower and something to flatten the grass in the same direction, creating those well-defined stripes is easy.
Start by mowing the first straight line. The easiest way to do this is to follow something that can give you a guideline for the first pass – something like a drive, a patio or anything else that gives you a straight line to follow is perfect.
When you reach the end of the first line, lift the blades of the mower to spin it round and move it into position for the next pass.
As you mow, the trick is to look about 10ft ahead instead of just in front of you – this will help you follow the most perfectly straight lines. If you don’t cut the lines perfectly straight, the overall effect when you have finished will not be nearly as impressive.
Check out this video to see the technique in action.
Once you have mastered basic stripes, you might like to try other more ambitious patterns.
One popular variation is to give your lawn a “checkerboard” effect. This looks even more impressive than simple stripes but is just as easy to do.
All you need to do for this pattern is start by mowing stripes into your lawn as described above. Once you have finished, simply repeat the process at right angles to the stripes you have already cut. Very easy to do – but it looks great when it’s finished.
Beyond this, feel free to attempt any patterns and shapes you like. When you know how it’s done, you can be as creative as you like!
Tips for Striping a Lawn
Here are a few extra tips that will help you achieve even better results when striping your lawn.
1. Don’t cut the grass too short
Since striping relies on the blades of grass lying flat, if you cut the grass too short, your stripes won’t be as conspicuous. For this reason, it’s better to set your mower to one of the higher grass length settings when you mow.
2. Keep your lawn healthy
For the best results, you need a lush and healthy lawn. You should cut little and often rather than cutting back too much in one go and then leaving it to grow long. Never cut more than ⅓ of the length of your grass in one go.
3. Consider buying a split roller mower
For the most perfectly-defined stripes, a split roller mower is the best option. These give you more maneuverability when turning.
4. Choose a good mower
Whether you use a mower with a built-in roller or just a regular one, make sure you always choose a high-quality one – this will help you achieve the most outstanding results.
Maintaining a striped lawn means you will have to mow more often than if you don’t have stripes, so choosing a good self-propelled lawn mower might also be a wise investment, especially if you have a large lawn.
5. Always use a sharp blade
Always make sure the blade is sharp when you mow the lawn – this will ensure a clean cut. If not, you will tear the blades of grass, which will make them weaker and less healthy.
6. Clear grass clippings from your lawn
Don’t leave grass clippings on your lawn. They will dry out and turn yellow – and this will detract from the overall effect of the stripes.
Easy to do – but looks fantastic
Although a striped lawn looks highly professional, it is actually an effect that is very easy to create. This is another technique that can be added to the list of tips and tricks that will give your yard a professional look without requiring lots of time or effort.