How many of you have attended the stadium of your favorite baseball team and wondered about those stripes cut into the field? Have you ever
wondered how the stadium grounds crew achieved such an effect? Would you like to stripe your own lawn?
The stripes you see on the field are actually the result of light reflecting off the blades of grass. No, the grass has not been cut at a different height and no; it’s not due to the use of a different species of grass. The stripes appear because the blades of grass have been bent in different directions.
The blades of grass bent away from you appear lighter in color because the light is reflecting off of the wide, lengthy part of the blade. The blades of grass bent toward you appear darker because you are looking at the tips of the blades and the shadows under the grass.
Do you want this effect on your lawn? You can achieve it with the lawn mower you use to cut your grass.
A basic lawn stripe pattern can be achieved when you simply mow the perimeter around the property and then mow in opposing directions through the remaining property. Taking a “Y” type turn at the end of each roll will reduce the possibility of turf damage as you set the mower up to cut the next row. Go over the perimeter again to remove any stripe pattern irregularities left when you turned at the end of each row. The final pass assures a cleaner, more finished appearance.
You can also create a checkerboard or a diagonal or crisscross stripe patterns and also mow in stripes around trees and other obstacles.
To create a checkerboard appearance start mowing like you did to create the stripe effect. When you have completed that pass the lawn mower over your lawn again going in the opposite direction than you traveled the first time. That is, if you did the first pass mowing north and south, then mow the next pass east and west. Mow the perimeter again to remove any stripe irregularities.
To come out with a diagonal or crisscross effect, start off mowing in the same manner you did to create the checkerboard effect and then form the stripes in a diagonal direction.
To create stripes around trees or other obstacles, mow around the tree into the uncut path. When mowing through your next pass you will be mowing and striping over the turn marks and still retain the even stripe pattern. With a little experience, the stripes will look like they are going directly through the tree and an even stripe pattern will appear throughout the lawn.
To intensify the stripe you simply bend the grass farther. The best way to achieve this is to physically press the grass blades down using a roller. Believe it or not, there is a lawn mower called the Scag Tiger Striper™ that does that. In addition, the length of cut can determine the intensity of the stripe. If you cut the grass too short, the stripe will be less intense because the shorter grass blades don’t bend over as far and reflect less light. A longer cut will help to enhance the stripe.
Other things that can affect the intensity of the stripe include the species of grass and the position of the sun. Some breeds of grass bends easier and thus produce a better stripe. Warm season grass, which is typically found in the southern region of the country, are said to be more difficult in producing stripes because the species is more rigid and harder to bend.
Finally, the crispness of the stripe pattern may appear more intense at different times of the day and at different levels of light. A more intense stripe is visible when the sun is behind you.