Admit it. You want them. Those beautiful stripes on your lawn that'll make your grass look like ballpark grass. Clean and professional. Like the fields you see in college and professional sports stadiums. You're in luck, because it's really not too hard to make stripes in your lawn if you have cool-season grass. Here's how.
The effect of stripes you see on a lawn or playing field is simply light reflecting off the grass blades. Blades bent towards you look dark, while those bent the opposite way look lighter. You can see some of the same effect with normal mowing, and creating patterns just takes it a step further. To get the blades to bend, you'll need a striping kit for your mower or a roller. You can buy a striping kit online or find instructions on how to build one yourself.
Before you start mowing, decide on the pattern you want to create. It may help - especially when doing this the first time - to make a sketch of how the pattern will fit the layout of your lawn. The possibilities are practically endless, but stripes, checkerboards, and diamonds are the most common patterns.
Unless you're purposely creating a wavy pattern, take care to mow in a straight line. Start by mowing parallel to a straight sidewalk or driveway. To keep mowing straight, look at least 10 feet in front of you while you mow, rather than at the ground right in front of the mower. When you come to the end of a row, lift the mower deck as you turn, then mow in the opposite direction next to your previous pass. To create a checkerboard, mow the lawn a second time at 90 degrees to your first mowing. Finish by mowing a strip around the edges of the lawn.
Your mowing will create the basic pattern, but the next step is what the professionals do to make their patterns more pronounced. The secret is to bend the grass blades further, and you can do that with a lawn roller. If you don't own a roller, you can rent one. Go back over your mowing stripes, rolling the grass in the same direction you mowed. You'll see a dramatic difference.
To create a vivid pattern, mow high. Mowing at the highest setting creates softer grass that bends over easily. A shorter grass blade will not bend over as far, and the pattern will not be as noticeable. Raising the mowing height even a half-inch can make a difference. Don't forget to feed your lawn every 6-8 weeks with Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food. A lawn fed 2-4 times per year, will grow thick and lush helping make the stripes even more dramatic. Finally, always mow with a sharp blade for a nice, healthy cut.