How to Mow Stripes in your Lawn

Lanc_fieldThose beautiful shades of green stripes on the fields you see at sporting events are not painted on!    (I have been asked this question by a few readers recently).

First, Its not as hard as it looks to put those stripes in your yard..even a 7 year old can do it and I was a witness too the youth event as it was my son that put them in our yard several years ago with his bubble mower.

The stripes are actually made by rolling or bending the grass in opposite directions.  In pro parks they use a vertical reel type mower.Daves_greek_photos_045_1   Its all about the equipment …NOT THE PAINT! Some big league parks have developed some very special designs over the years like Cal Ripkens #8 in the field when he retired and Dave Mellor’s beautiful "Red Sock"designs at his field in Boston.  There are even parks that mow the grass in one direction to show "no stripes".   The Skyline at Shea a few years back was nice as well.

There is a myth that the grass bending could effect the ball…again that is a myth as long as the groundskeeper changes the pattern every few weeks it will not effect the ball roll.   

For years,  in order for the homeowner to put those cool stripes in there lawn , they had to purchase a $3000 walk behind reel mower.  Your standard rotary mower can’t really perform this function because it requires a roller or some type of vertical movement to push or brush the grass in one direction.  This brushing and rolling is alternated as you travel back and forth on the grass.   That’s it! 

Recently,  I have noticed a few companies beginning to sell striping attachments that you can put on your existing mowers. Dscn1196 In fact the large commercial "Z mowers" ( the mowers you see zipping knowthe one.. the guy uses two handles to maneuver it instead of a steering wheel)  Those units now have a striping kit that can be attached to the mower. Dscn1197  If you look behind the mowing deck and in front of the wheel on the mower photo,  you can see it on this EX-mark mower that TORO distributes. 

Before going out and buying something to stripe your field or lawn you need to know what type of grass  you have because it may affect the ability to stripe the grass. 

The Northern grasses such as Bluegrass and fescues always stripe very well.  Also dormant Bermuda grass…. over seeded with rye type grass seed in the south does a great job. Where you may have some trouble is striping bermuda type turfs in the summers.  Its possible but these grasses need to be mowed in various directions or they tend to "grain" which will cause the ball to roll funny on the field.   

I actually had a small stripping mower at my yard earlier this year before the heat wave caused the county to impose water restrictions.  The photo is on my last "Yard Tips" blog.  McLean and National Mower companies actually sell striping mowers.  I would look for the attachment for your brand of mower. 

Just remember in this drought, its not healthy to mow brown turf…striping or not

1 Comment

Man, where was this advice before I moved from a house with a big lawn to NYC?! Great stuff, Murray!


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