How to stripe a lawn with a riding mower

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Many of us long for the “stripes” that we see when driving by a golf club or sports field. 

Below we teach you how to stripe a lawn with a riding mower and make your yard catch every passing eye this summer.

How does lawn striping work with riding mowers?

Some of us don’t understand what causes the stunning “stripes” on grass.

There are folks who think that establishing a perfect striped yard involves painting the grass. Wrong.

Giving your backyard that big league look has nothing to do with planting an exotic grass species either.

It’s a rather uncomplicated ‘phenomena’: Those neat stripes you admire are the result of light reflecting (at a given angle) off bent grass blades.

Now, creating such a breathtaking piece of art boils down to trimming grass methodically to increase the color variation between adjoining rows.

That way, one line will appear lighter colored and its adjacent row darker.

Here is the best news: you can do this with your riding mower (and nearly all other types of mowers).

And all you have to do is tweak your mowing technique a bit.

We are looking at the exact procedure next.

How to stripe a lawn with a riding mower

Adding a professional look to your yard is surprisingly easy.

In fact, the biggest change you make to your traditional mowing approach is alternating the direction you cut grass.

Yes, you heard me right…all it takes to bring about the elegant alternating light-dark effect across your lawn is mow in different directions with your riding mower (nothing more!).

Simply follow these steps:

Step 1

To start on this light trick, you want to first mow around the entire perimeter of your grass.

Identify a starting point and drive there.

Set the desired cutting height and mow a border all the way around the yard. 

Step 2

Working from any selected side, now cut the full length of your lawn in one direction and (this is important), in a perfectly straight line.

This line should be parallel to the lawn’s edge.

You may not notice it immediately but this will have created the first stripe. 

Tip: We recommend that you start parallel to any fixed, straight marker. For example, mowing parallel to the sidewalk will help keep your line straighter.

Step 3

Lift the deck and turn the riding mower around. You’re now facing the opposite direction.

Start to mow your next stripe – be sure to leave an overlap of a few inches over your previously mowed lane- while using the first row to guide the line (you want it straight).

Continue cutting all the way to the end.

Congratulations! You’ve just made your next stripe.

Step 4

Once again, raise the deck and turn in the other direction.

Mow the next stripe while still maintaining a straight line (this is now aligned to the very first stripe you made across the yard).

Once you’ve mastered striping, keep alternating the mowing directions until the full lawn is striped. 

Step 5

Once you’ve finished striping the lawn, make one final round around the perimeter eliminating any small irregularities or lines you left behind when turning at the various end points.

That’s it!

It is this simplistic mowing strategy that makes lawns appear extremely charming.

How to make stripes around obstacles

When you occasionally encounter obstacles like trees in the yard, simply go around it as you do during usual mowing sessions (on the uncut section).

The curved movements are not going to be a problem since your next pass will erase them.

How to stripe a lawn with a riding mower- useful tips

Sure, there’s no need to hire a miracle-worker to mow the flawless lines that have everybody talking about your yard.

However, there are a few tips that could make your life easier as you’ll learn here.

·         Be careful when turning

Turns – you have to turn every time you arrive at the end of a row- can be an issue especially when you’re new to striping and it’s important you take care to avoid damaging the turf.

Making a tight Y-type turn will greatly reduce the likelihood of harming the grass when setting the riding mower up to mow the next row.

·         Cut the right height

Logically, short grass won’t bend much and subsequently won’t reflect light contrast sufficiently to create bold looking stripes.

Indeed, lawn stripes seem most impeccable when the grass is between 2.5 to 4 inches tall and it’s advisable not to cut grass shorter than this height.

·         Focus on the bigger picture

As you mow, we suggest that you look ten feet (or thereabouts) ahead of you.

This helps you concentrate on the task at hand and keep the lines consistent.

What to do if your grass type won’t bend well

Cool season grass varieties – those that thrive in cooler, northern climates- bend easily and you’ll come up with more pronounced stripes without much trouble if you have such grass.

On the other hand, you may not have an easy time striping grasses that flourish in warmer climates- Bermuda, St. Augustine, and the like- because they’re typically more brittle and don’t bend without a fight.

The good news is that you can still make beautiful stripes on these grasses with the right equipment.

What you’ll require for some riding mowers is a quality lawn striping kit.

These mostly attach to the back of your mower and press down the stubborn blades of grass – it’s either rolled or dragged- in the direction you’re striping giving your yard a major-league ballpark look.

Keep in mind that taller blades of grass will always bend over more effortlessly and tend to have a more enchanting contrast.

You paid big bucks for your riding mower so you have the right to demand more from your ride on machine. 

You have just learned how to stripe a lawn with a riding mower, one of the priceless tricks for any riding mower owner.

Now it’s your time to go out and practice this wonderful skill!

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