A Detailed Guide To Lawn Striping
Have you ever seen the amazing striped effect on the grass of baseball stadiums, or in the gardens of exquisite hotels? The effect doesn't come from different types of grass, or from cutting the lawn to varying lengths, but actually comes from bending the grass in different directions.
You can do this at home too, using a tool called a lawn striper, to create an impressive pattern on your own lawn.
How Does Lawn Striping Work?
Lawn striping works by bending the grass in different directions. This is accomplished using a striping kit, which can be bought or homemade. The grass is bent down under the weight of the roller, which is usually attached to the back of a lawn mower. Find out what type of lawn mower is right for you, and then attach the appropriate striper.
When grass is bent away from you, the grass appears lighter. This is because light is reflected off the exposed wide blade. When the grass is bent towards you, the grass appears darker, because you are looking at the tip, which has less of a reflective. This gives the grass its striped two-tone effect.
What you will notice, if you do decide to stripe your lawn, is that the effect is reversed if you look at it from the other side of your yard. The dark will appear lighter from the opposite perspective, and vice versa.
How To Stripe A Lawn
Don't be fooled by all of those flamboyant million pound striped lawns. The process is actually really easy. If you can mow a lawn, then you can stripe a lawn too.
- Get a lawn striper or roller attachment for your mower, or make one using the instructions further below.
- Plan your pattern. At first you might want to take a basic design. With practice you may begin to develop your lawn striping into something of an art form! (reference here with link to great lawn striping) It might help to sketch your pattern to get a visual representation.
- Mow the perimeter of your lawn. This will function as the area where you make turns, and will also give a nice border.
- At the end of the strip, turn the mower 180 degrees in a 'Y' motion. Mow back the opposite way, taking care to overlap the previous strip just a touch, so as not to leave rough patches in between.
- Even by just mowing the pattern you will likely see the striped effect emerging, but the next step is to intensify the stripes with the roller. Attach the lawn striper to your mower, and go over your pattern in the same directions that you mowed, in order to flatten the grass and create beautiful stripes.
- Finish off by mowing the perimeter once again, to give a pleasing result that is free from irregularities.
Should I Buy Or Make A Lawn Striper?
In order for you to be able to stripe your grass, you will need a lawn striper. This is basically a roller type device that attaches to your lawn mower, usually at the back. Many lawn mowers have compatible lawn stripers that can be easily hooked on, and do a great job of creating stunning patterns. You can also make a lawn striper, if you fancy yourself as a bit of a handyman.
The choice of whether to buy a lawn striper or whether to make one, is entirely yours to make. Lawn stripers are actually available pretty cheap. The Toro Lawn Striping System is just over $100 at the time of writing and is sure to do a good job. There is no real risk in making this purchase, if you can afford it, and if you really want a striped lawn.
If you just want to give lawn striping a go, and don't really want to commit to the cost, then it is possible to make a system yourself out of PVC pipe, at a cost of around $20. Whether this system will be flawless, is up to you!
How To Make A Lawn Striping System
There are a few different ways to make a homemade lawn striping system. The basic idea is to attach a roller to the mower using a rope or chain. Here is one method that you can follow:
You Will Need:
- PVC pipe
- 2 PVC end caps
- PVC primer, glue, and handsaw
- Drill and drill bit
- Two lengths of rope, around 4 foot each
- Two eye hooks, ¼ inch by 3 inch
- 2 x ¼ inch washers, and 2 x ¼ inch nuts
- A wrench
What To Do:
- Measure the width of the back of your mower, and then cut your PVC pipe to measure the same.
- Take the end pipes, and drill 3/8 inch holes in center of end caps.
- Slide a washer onto an eye bolt, and thread the bolt through the hole that you have just created in one of the end caps. Slide another wash onto the eye bolt from the inside of the pipe to secure it.
- Repeat this for the other end caps.
- Prime the PVC pipe, and both of the end caps. Glue one end cap to the PVC pipe, so that it has a lid on one end.
- Pour the sand into the pipe until it is around ¾ full. This will add the necessary weight for the PVC pipe to function as a lawn striper, and bend your grass well.
- Glue the other end cap to the pipe so that you have a sealed contraption.
- The next job is to attach the pipe to the lawn mower. Take your rope and tie a loop in one end of both pieces. Attach one piece of rope to the eyebolt on one end cap, and then do the same for the other piece.
- Loop the loose end of the rope and tie it to the hitch of the lawnmower, so that the PVC pipe is successfully attached.
Here is another method explained by The Lawn Care Nut:
Striping Your Lawn: What Else Do You Need To Know?
Knowing how to stripe your lawn is relatively easy, but getting the pattern looking perfect and striping your lawn like a pro is another issue. Planning is crucial for the end result. Mowing first, and then rolling over the pattern afterwards will help you to make sure everything is good and proper before you add definition. These top tips for striping your lawn will also help.
How well your lawn will show its stripes depends on the type of grass. Unfortunately, those who live in warm season grass regions simply won't be able to get as good a result as those with a cool season lawn. The striped effect occurs because light reflects off leaves of grass when it is bent, but warm grass such as Bermuda is mostly stem, and lacks the lead width to give the desired result. Cool grass, such as fescue, is better.
Improved Lawn Health
Did you know that if you always mow your lawn in one direction it can actually cause damage? Longer grass tends to bed over the shorter stuff, and shades it from the sun, which eventually deprives and kills it.
Mowing in different directions stops this from occurring, and so you should aim to vary the direction you stripe the lawn. Simply mow the pattern the opposite way every few times that you stripe.
There are a few different ways that you can vary the stripe intensity of your lawn, so you can choose a subtle striping, or a really bold and dashing one.
You can intensify the stripe by bending the grass further. This can be accomplished by rolling over it several times, or using heavy weighted rollers. If you want really pronounced stripes, you should also cut the grass taller.
Shorter grass won't reflect as much light, whereas taller grass will bend further. Even half an inch can make all of the difference. The position of the sun will also change the effect, and the stripes tend to look most bold when the sun is behind you.
Mowing Around An Obstacle
If you have an obstacle such as a tree, flower bed, or some other feature in the middle of your lawn, then it is possible to mow and stripe around it, and achieve a perfectly integrated look.
When you encounter the obstacle as you are striping your lawn, simply mow around it so that you bulge out into the stripe next door. As you mow back in the opposite direction you will then flatten this bulge, leaving an effect that almost looks like the stripes pass through the object.
The other alternative is to create an interesting pattern around the obstacle, in order to highlight the features. For example, you might create a circular pattern around a tree.
There are many ways in which you can apply your knowledge of how to stripe your grass, and create patterns other than the classic up-down effect. Actually, you are only limited by your imagination, and can be as wild and imaginative as you want! For example, a groundskeeper of English soccer team Southampton recently impressed all with his grass stripe art work.
The step by step guide above covers the basic striped pattern. You could also try out some of the patterns below if you are feeling adventurous.
For the checkerboard pattern, all you need to do is follow the same steps as for the basic striped pattern. Mow the perimeter, and then make your initial stripes, either east and west, or north and south. Then, go the other way along your lawn and do the same again. If your stripes are vertical, go across them horizontally. Finish by mowing the perimeter.
A diagonal design is achieved in the same way as the checkerboard, but you do all of the stripes diagonally across your lawn.
This is where we step away from straight lines, and enter a more arty world of lawn striping. Wavy patterns actually work much like the basic pattern, apart from you mow in 'waves' rather than totally straight lines. You can make the design very subtly curvy, or meander your wavy lines like a river.
This will take a bit of practice, but you can create a circular effect on your lawn. Mow the inner most circle, and then work out from there, each time mowing the circles in the opposite direction. You can also apply this pattern around obstacles such as trees.