If you've admired the elaborately striped and patterned grass on your favorite ball team's field, you might be surprised to know that you can achieve the same effect on your own lawn. Striping kits are available commercially, but they are not necessary. Stripers are easy to make at home. Striping is accomplished not by painting it, but by bending the grass in different directions, as former Yankee's general manager Murray Cook points out on his website dedicated to ballparks.
Homemade Lawn Striper
Cut 2-inch PVC to a length that is a half inch shorter than the blades on your mower. Spread adhesive on one end of the pipe and attach an end cap. The pipe doesn't need to be water-tight, so most adhesives will work. Fill the pipe with sand, and glue an end cap on the other end of the pipe. Attach zip ties to the pipe, next to the end cap, and then attach the zip ties to the back of your mower. All mowers are a little different, so you might have to try a few different attachment methods before you get it right.
Once the pipe is attached to the lawnmower, mow your lawn. As you mow, the sand-filled PVC will flatten the grass behind the mower. Try simple vertical stripes at first. Go up and down. The grass in one row will be bent one way, and the grass in the other row will be bent the other way.
Cut your grass weekly, advises David R. Mellor, head groundskeeper at Fenway Park. And don't bag those clippings. They provide your lawn with nutrients. Never cut more than a third of the grass blades at a time, and always keep your mower blades sharp. As for striping the grass, Mellor recommends changing the pattern every three weeks to keep the grass from weakening. If you want to make straight lines, don't look down, he advises. Pick a point in front of you, and mow toward it. To make your lines stand out, go over them twice, but leave the blades on your mower up the second time around.
Some varieties of grass stripe better than others. Bermuda grass works only if you consistently mow it in different directions. Mowing Bermuda grass the same way every time will keep it from laying properly. Consider overseeding your Bermuda grass with rye to improve its striping capability. Bluegrass and fescue are ideal for striping.
If you are willing to put the time and preparation in, there is no limit to the patterns you can create. During the 2004 and 2005 playoffs, Mellor created the image of a pair of socks in the infield with nothing but his mower and striping equipment. Simple stripes are the easiest to accomplish, but checkerboards and plaids are easy too. Get creative with wavy lines, sunburst patterns or even a mix of patterns. Stripe one half of your lawn and make the other one a plaid.
- Murray Cook's Field and Ballpark Blog: How to Make Those Fancy Stripes in the Grass
- CBS News: Stripe Your Lawn Like a Pro
- All About Lawn: Change Your Lawn's Stripes with a Homemade Striping Attachment
- SCAG Power Equipment: Lawn Striping and Lawn Patterns - How Do They Work?
- The Colorado Springs Gazette: Grass a Big Deal for Groundskeepers
- Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images