There’s something about a striped lawn that says ‘well manicured and pristine’ about your garden. But for a lot of people, they think that achieving that bowling green finish is only the stuff of dreams when in reality, anyone can create a striped lawn.
If you’re looking to boost the aesthetic of your lawn and try out some new mowing techniques then stripes are a brilliant place to start. Some lawn mowers come with a rear roller already attached which allows you to create lawn stripes without the need to buy an additional lawn mower striping kit.
But if your mower doesn’t have this feature then there’s really no need to worry as there are so many lawn striping kits out there to put you on the path to perfection. But are they worth it and is lawn striping suitable for your garden? Let’s find out.
Lawn striping refers to the art of creating visible stripes on the lawn using a weighted tool; often a rear roller installed on the lawn mower. But what’s fascinating is that this isn’t to do with how the grass is cut but how the plant bends and reflects light.
There’s a bit of science behind the process of lawn striping so if you’re considering doing it then I’d recommend learning a bit more about this so you know what is happening to your grass.
All plants, including grass, have a cuticle which is a waxy side that it used to direct water to their roots. This is the case with every single blade of grass on your lawn; that’s a lot of waxy cuticles and each of these shines in the light, making the grass appear lighter in color than the reverse of the blade. This is incredibly important when we think about how and why lawn is able to stripe.
When you use a striping kit for your lawn, this will bend the grass over to reveal that waxy side. When this reflects the light, it looks lighter and this is what creates that striped pattern.
While you can, in theory, try striping any type of grass, it’s worth noting that the striping process tends to work better on cool season grasses. This is because they hold onto more moisture which helps them to bend better. Moreover, it’s better to stripe your lawn when it’s slightly longer as this will give a better bend to each blade. But we will look at both of these factors in a little more detail later on.
Using A Striping Kit For Your Mower
A lawn striping kit is typically attached to the back of the mower at the bottom where it can make contact with the grass. The kit consists of a heavy bar which, when attached to the lawn mower, is dragged along and puts weight onto the grass to bend it and press it down. When this happens, the light is able to reflect more intensely off the waxy cuticle.
But is it worth buying a striping kit or could you get the same results from the safety strip at the back of most standard lawn mowers? Well in truth, that safety strip will bend the grass to a degree but it isn’t going to do anywhere near as good a job as a lawn striping kit would. If you want the best results then these kits are well worth the investment.
But you have to consider the cost of the kit and the good news is that the typical starting price is very reasonable. If you head to any good hardware store then you’ll be able to find a lawn striping kit and they start at as little as around $10. These kits are very simple and usually consist of a heavy rubber mat which is dragged along the lawn as you mow.
Of course, as with anything, there are higher end kits which can go well into triple figures so it’s all about figuring out what you need and how much you’re willing to spend. These more expensive kits don’t use mats but instead have a weighted cylinder that attaches to the back of the mower.
If you don’t really want to part with any cash then there is the option to make a DIY lawn striping kit using things like PVC piping filled with sand and capped at either end.
What’s The Best Type Of Kit For Your Mower
The type of lawn striping kit that you choose will depend on several things and it’s important to take these into consideration before making a purchase. Of course, the main thing to think about is the size of the striping kit. There’s no point in buying a kit designed for an 18 inch push mower when you’ve got a large riding tractor.
In this case, you’re going to need to go big or go home and this means that you’ll end up spending more money. For zero turn mowers and riding tractors you’ll be looking at spending around four times more on a kit than you would when buying one for a standard push mower. Typically, these kits are around $400 and while there are cheaper versions on the market, they’re not usually ideal for bigger scale jobs.
They may be OK for domestic use but if you’re considering a lawn striping kit for a business or commercial use then it’s always better to go for a higher end option. This will deliver the best results and will keep your customers satisfied. Plus, you’ll get a lot of use out of it as it’s something you’ll use every day.
On top of price, you must consider the width of the lawn striping kit. This is imperative as choosing just anything means it may not be compatible with your lawn mower. If you aren’t sure of the size you need, check the user manual for your mower which will give you details on its cutting width. You then simply need to choose something that is the same size.
DIY Lawn Striping Kits
While you can go out and buy a lawn mower striping kit, it’s just as viable to make your own at home. This is a brilliant option if you’re shopping on a budget and also means that you can customize the striping kit to your own liking and so it fits in best with your lawn mower.
You can really let your creative side come to life here as the main goal is finding something that’ll weigh the lawn down and bend those blades. Some people use PVC while others make use of old rubber mats and even sandbags that are no longer in use.
One of the great things about having a lawn striping kit is the ability to make patterns. A lot of people think that it’s all about making those bowling green stripes but there’s so much more you can do with these kits. This is one of the reasons that I think they’re such a good investment; they really give you versatility when it comes to changing the entire appearance of your lawn.
For example, you can make a criss-cross pattern by mowing stripes in one direction and then crossing over those and mowing in the other direction. When doing this, it’s really important to make sure that you start in the same direction and along the same lines when you begin mowing to keep the pattern consistent.
You can also choose to create angles but mowing diagonally across the lawn. Again, there is the option to create a crossed pattern here if you prefer by mowing in opposite directions at an angle.
But if you want your lawn stripes to be as intense and noticeable as possible then it’s essential that you approach the task correctly. There are a few things you’ll need to make sure of such as mowing height and the sharpness of your blade, so let’s cover them in some more detail.
Height Of The Lawn
Potentially the most important aspect of getting deep stripes on your lawn is not to cut it too short. Raise that cutting height as much as possible for the best results and you’ll also notice that your lawn stays a lot healthier when it’s that little bit longer.
When the lawn is mowed at a higher height, there’s far more scope for the blades to bend properly. Short grass blades just won’t have the length to bend over so you won’t get the same results. Longer grass will reflect the light really well and will retain moisture a lot better. This ensures that it won’t lose its green color.
Moreover, when the grass is longer, it’ll be more dense which means that there’s less chance of weeds invading because there simply won’t be as much room for them to grow. I’d recommend cutting the lawn to about three and a half inches for the best results.
Keeping The Mower Blades Sharp
Dull lawn mower blades do nothing for your grass. All they’ll achieve is hacking away at the blades and tearing them as opposed to delivering a nice neat cut. This affects the health of your grass and puts it under tremendous stress which is never a good thing.
When this happens, the ends of the grass have a tendency to turn brown and bruise which makes the overall appearance of the lawn more dull and certainly not lush and green as you’d hope. This will naturally affect how well the stripes appear in your lawn and you may end up hardly being able to see them at all.
So, make sure that you regularly sharpen your mower blades and it doesn’t hurt to routinely check them for cracks, dents, chips, or other damage every time before you use it.
Important Things To Know About Lawn Striping
Striping your lawn is a wonderful way to improve its appearance and make it look really well manicured. However, before you get started, there are a few important points that you’ll need to keep in mind. Some are great news while others are not but they’re worth knowing.
Lawn Striping Promotes Health Grass Growth
When you mow your lawn normally, you’re only mowing in one direction. While this might make the job easier, it’s not that great for the health of the lawn. This is because mowing in one direction will leave behind track marks and indentations which can result in spots of low growth. This then causes the lawn to look uneven.
If you’re mowing at a higher cutting height in one direction then this will cause the blades of grass to bend over and shade those beneath them. The result is that any shaded blades die off due to lack of sunlight.
But when you mow stripes into the lawn, it’s much less likely that you’ll get areas of low growth and there won’t be any indentations so you’ll end up with a much healthier lawn. Since the blades will be bent in different directions, there’s also far less chance of any areas not receiving the light that they need.
Lawn Striping Loses Intensity If You Cut The Grass Too Short
As I talked about earlier on, if you want the best results from your lawn striping kit then you need to raise the cutting height on your mower. This can feel strange for some people and there’s a tendency to believe that a shorter lawn is a neater lawn but this isn’t the case.
If you want the blades to properly reflect the sunlight then they need to be longer to provide a larger reflective surface. You’ll find that you get the best intensity when you keep the cutting height between two and a half and four inches. Any shorter, and the grass blades will have a hard time bending and you won’t get the striped look you wanted.
Lawn Striping Isn’t Suitable For All Types Of Grass Species
Depending on where you live, you may have a warm season or a cool season grass. The problem is that not all types of grass are suitable for striping and this is largely due to their length.
Warm season grasses like zoysia, St Augustine and Bermuda won’t bend as easily as the blades tend to be more rigid and a lot shorter. It might be possible to use a lawn striping kit and get immediate results but you will notice that the blades spring back to their original position very quickly.
However, if you have a cool season grass such as a fescue or Kentucky bluegrass then you’ll find it much easier to achieve perfect stripes. These grasses do well in the early spring and at the beginning of fall and have much longer blades. What’s more, those blades are much more flexible than warm season grasses and will hold stripes far more easily.
If you want to create a beautiful striped lawn then you need special equipment to achieve this. Some lawn mowers come with a rear roller already installed but this isn’t the case with a lot of machines. However, you can purchase a lawn striping kit or even make your own; but is it worth it?
For an aesthetically pleasing lawn, using one of these kits is a no brainer. But there are rules you need to follow if you want to achieve the best results. Keep the grass longer and remember that cool season grasses work better for striping than warm season varieties. Moreover, for the most intense stripes, you’ll need to keep those mower blades sharp and well maintained.