If you’ve ever sat down to watch a game of football or cricket and found yourself admiring the stripes on the grass more than the actual sport then, it’s official, you’re a keen gardener at heart. Don’t worry, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. We much prefer pondering the groundsman’s technique than questioning the manager’s tactics, which is partly because it’s more interesting and mainly because it’s more useful.
The reason we’re telling you this is simple: putting stripes into a lawn is one of the most amazing ways to add a little drama to your outside space. It adds that extra layer of fascination, that little bit more pizzazz and wow-factor, and it helps you win that battle of the lawns you’ve been locked in with your neighbour (even if neither of you has verbally accepted the challenge).
That said, making your lawn look like the greens at Augusta or the fairways at St Andrews isn’t just about making your grass look pretty; alternating the direction you mow is also super-duper good for your lawn’s health.
So, without further ado, here is everything you need to know about striping your lawn:
- “Tell Me, Sir, What Is This Striping Thing You Speak Of?”
If you thought putting stripes into your lawn required a) dark magic or b) rocket science, then we have some good news for you: there’s nothing more to it than you pushing the grass down one way and then the other as you mow your lawn. It’s kind of like when you’re at a dinner party and you try and brush the canape crumbs off your velvet jacket – the grain suddenly gives off a different effect, whether lighter or darker. This is exactly the same with the stripes on a football pitch, an effect that’s caused by light reflecting off the grass. Blades pushed toward you look dark and those bent away look light. It’s just science, man.
- “How Do Professional Groundsman Do It?
Okay, that’s not strictly true. We just mean they use super-specialised reel mowers that have rollers on both the front and back, and that’s what creates the really bold stripe look. But it’s not just the fact they have a dual-rolling system going on. First off, they tend to have grooves in the front roller, which means the grass blades get teed up to be chop so evenly by the reel it’s like watching a robot with OCD. And that’s not all. The reel cuts the grass in a particular way so that it pushes the grass down, while the weighted roller at the back makes sure this job is done properly.
Of course, if you want to get one of these Star Trek-inspired-super-high-tech-machines for your own garden, you can. It’s just that, well, they’re mega-expensive.
- “Can You, Well, You Know, DIY These Stripes?”
In a word: yeah. However, we would much prefer to use four words and say, “heck yeah, you can!” All you need is a striping kit that can be attached to your mower, whether that be a ride-on one or the kind you push and, depending on where you get yours from, you can have them attached for you or get instructions on how to pop it on yourself. Oh, and so you aren’t completely lost, there are two main types of striping kit: a heavy roller or a rubber flap, both of which will push the grass flat, and both of which usually attach to the back of the mower, behind the bit that cuts (or ‘the deck’ as most people call them).
Of course, we realise this isn’t technically a DIY answer. So, if you really, really, really want to get your hands dirty and make something yourself, we recommend you get some PVC and a round fence stake and see if you can create something half-decent, which could mean a bit of frustration and a lot of trial and error but, come on, it’ll be worth it just to say you did it.
- “What Are The Most Popular Patterns?”
Oooo, good question (yeah, that’s right, we just asked ourselves a question and then complimented it, which is kind of weird but still okay, possibly). Anyway, when it comes to creating a pattern, the possibilities are about as endless as the universe. That said, the most popular choices are stripes, the draught board look and diamonds. Before you get started, though, we recommend you make a rough sketch of your lawn and then see which one will a) be easiest to do and b) look best. Oh, and make sure you mow straight, otherwise, well, you know, it’ll look a bit shoddy, and no one wants a shoddy lawn
Our top tips:
- Keeping it straight: the best thing to do is start by mowing parallel to a straight edge, such as your garden path, patio, driveway, whatever. Then, to keep it straight, lift your head up. That’s right. Don’t look right in front of your mower, look 10 to 12 feet ahead.
- Lift and turn: every time you come to the end of a row, make sure you lift the mower deck as high as it will possibly go and then turn. To keep the rows straight and the pattern perfect, make sure you hug the stripe you just made, but going the opposite way (obviously).
- For the chequered-effect: first things first, mow your whole lawn using the above advice so that you have the stripe effect done and dusted. Once you’ve done this, what you have to do is mow your lawn a second time, but this time do it at 90 degrees. Voila, you have checks.
- For diamonds: this one is a little trickier but, essentially, you just need to line your mower up so that it is facing at a 45 degree angle and then put stripes into your lawn before repeating in the same way you would do the chequered pattern.
- The big finale: always finish by mowing a strip all the way around the edge of your lawn. Trust us, this will give your garden a much more polished look.