Paul Cox, HGTV Gardens Contributor

Paul Cox

mowing stripes
Striping your lawn looks cool, and is healthy for your grass, too.

I’ve said before how beautiful I think baseball fields look at night. There’s just nothing like the contrast of the bright, white chalk lines against the dark infield dirt…and those extremely cool lawn stripes.

It might take some practice — and lots of time — before you’re skilled enough to create mowing masterpieces like these at some major league parks. But outfitting your lawn with a set of simple stripes isn’t that hard, and it’s good for your lawn, too.

Light reflecting off of blades of grass bent in different directions create the dark and light patterns. That’s the same light effect you’ll notice after you walk across thick carpet or run your hand back and forth across a suede jacket. The grass most often is bent down by the pressure applied by rollers attached to the back of a lawn mower. The pros use reel mowers with multiple rollers. You can buy striping kits for your mower, or if you’re handy and want to save some bucks, you may want to check out these instructions, then try to make one yourself with a little bit of PVC.

Atlanta Braves Field Director Ed Mangan and his staff are responsible for the beauty and health of Turner Field, which sports some very snappy stripes. The real value in striping, says Mangan, is that it encourages healthy grass growth. Mowing in one direction too often can actually cause the taller grass to bend over and shield the grass below from the sun, which over time could kill it. Plus, you’ll get those ugly tire marks that eventually will become embedded in your lawn.

So, vary your striping direction often, suggests Mangan, who adds that you also can get good striping results by using brooms, squeegees or even throwing down buckets of water.

Grass Types: Not all grass types stripe equally. Warm-season grasses like Bermuda don’t hold stripes as well because there’s more stem and less blade. Cool-season grasses, such as fescue, are the best lawn palette, which Mangan says is why some of the more elaborate striping designs can be seen at ballparks in the North.

Patterns: With skill and patience you can work wonders with your mower. Need some inspiration? Check out these patterns with tips on how to make them.

But, whether you’re into pinstriping your lawn or not, a good cut begins with a sharp mower blade, says Mangan.

“You must, at least a few times a year, sharpen the blade on the mower,” he says. “So many people will go years without sharpening that blade. The cleaner the cut, the more healthy the grass is going to be.”

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