How to Stripe Your Lawn

lawn striping from mowing in opposite direction

A perfectly striped lawn is the goal of every lawn aficionado. Whether you want your lawn to look like a professional sports field or only want to alter your mowing patterns once in a while, lawn striping is within your reach. Batter up, and let’s get striping.

What is lawn striping?

Even if you’re not a sports fan, you’ve probably seen striped patterns on golf courses, outfields, or even on the lawn next door. So, what is lawn striping? Lawn striping is simply bending the blades of grass in one direction as you mow. The grass blades that are bent toward you appear darker; the grass blades that are bent away from you appear lighter.  

Why should I stripe my lawn?

Lawn care is a necessary part of home ownership. Why not use the time you already spend mowing to make your lawn that much more beautiful? In short, there is no reason you should stripe your lawn other than for aesthetics, with one exception. Even if you don’t care about mowing stripes into your lawn, it is a good idea to vary your mowing pattern every few weeks. If you stripe your lawn, you should be doing this anyway.

How to stripe a lawn in 4 easy steps

OK, sports fans. Are you ready for the big leagues? Let’s get striping!

Step 1: Get your gear

If you have cool-season grass, you’ve got it easy. The rear skirt on your mower is sufficient to stripe cool-season lawns.

If you have warm-season grass, plan to up your game. Warm-season grasses bend better with a lawn striper (also called a striping kit). The rear skirt on your mower isn’t sufficient. Buy a kit online or in-store, fill it with sand, and attach it to your mower. 

Step 2: Choose a pattern

What pattern do you want to mow into your lawn? If you’re new to this skill, start with simple stripes the first week. The following week, try mowing perpendicular to last week’s stripes to make a checkerboard pattern. In the third week, try a diagonal, and so on.  

Don’t expect to mow a pristine lawn on your first try. It will take practice to gain this skill.

Step 3: Know your line of sight

Where will you most often view your lawn? Plan your design to run parallel to this vantage point for the eye-catching results you want. A design that runs perpendicular to your most common line of sight won’t be as noticeable.

Step 4: Start mowing

Once you’ve chosen your pattern and line of sight, you’re ready to mow. 

  • Mow around the perimeter (striper attachment optional).
  • Start mowing along a straight surface if you’re a novice. Following a curb, driveway, or walkway will help make your first stripe a straight one.
  • Turn the mower around and mow in the opposite direction. Tip: Make your turns in the perimeter area to avoid bending your striped grass in the wrong direction.
  • Repeat until the entire lawn is complete.
  • Once you’ve finished mowing, mow along the perimeter again (optional) to get rid of any turn marks.

Final Tips: 

  • Alternate your pattern weekly or every other week, as we’ve discussed. You don’t want the blades to be permanently trained in one direction only. Even if you don’t stripe your lawn, alternate your mowing patterns to prevent ruts and soil compaction.
  • Got a riding mower? Not a problem. If it doesn’t come with a striping kit, you can build or purchase one.
  • A sharp mower blade will give your lawn a clean, sharp-looking cut without any tears.

Which grass types are best for lawn stripes?

If you live in the northern part of the country, you probably have cool-season grass. Many lawns in the northern Transition Zone also have cool-season grass. These grass blades bend more easily and produce a better striping effect. Since the blades are more malleable than most warm-season grasses, you can get good striping results with the rear skirt of a regular push mower.

Warm-season grasses have stiffer blades and require more heft to get that professional look you’re after. You’ll want to buy a professional striping kit (or build your own) and attach it to the back of your mower to get a good result. 

If you’re not sure which type of grass you have, check out this handy map. Below is also a list of common grass types in each region. Note: Both cool- and warm-season grasses grow in the Transition Zone.

illustration showing the cool and warm season grasses on the US map, along with the transitional zone

Cool-season grasses: 

  • Fine fescues
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue

Warm-season grasses:

  • Bahiagrass
  • Bermudagrass
  • Centipedegrass
  • St. Augustinegrass
  • Zoysiagrass

A healthy lawn stripes best

We’ll be honest: Not all lawns will achieve that optimal, professionally done look. Why not? Here are a few reasons:

Height: A shorter lawn won’t stripe as well as a longer one. A taller mowing height (the high side of your lawn’s recommended range) means the blades won’t be as stiff and will have more surface area to bend. 

Grass NameGrass TypeSuggested Height
Fine fescues*Cool Season2.5-3 inches
Kentucky bluegrassCool Season2.5-3.5 inches
Perennial ryegrassCool Season1.5-2.5 inches
Tall FescueCool Season3-4 inches
BahiaWarm Season3-4 inches
Common bermudaWarm Season1-2 inches
CentipedeWarm Season1-2 inches
Hybrid bermudaWarm Season1-1 ½ inches
St. AugustineWarm Season2-3 inches
ZoysiaWarm Season1-2 inches

*Fine fescues that grow in shaded lawns can be mowed up to 1 inch taller than the recommended range. Greater surface area helps shaded grasses make more food.

Finally, don’t forget about seasonal differences. Consider raising the height of your grass one-half inch during the hot, summer months. 

Density: A thicker lawn yields better stripes than a thinner one. A thick, carpet-like lawn is key if you want your lawn stripes to look professional.

Type of grass: As we’ve mentioned already, cool-season grasses stripe better (and with fewer tools) than warm-season ones. 

If your lawn isn’t quite on par, we’re here to help. Browse through these articles to help get your lawn fuller and more lush.

If you want to stripe your lawn, your imagination is your only limit. Pros advise starting small. For your first mow, master mowing in a straight line. Once you’ve got that down, try a checkerboard pattern, and so on. Here are a few popular patterns to get your creative juices flowing.

Straight patterns are the easiest to master, so start there. Once you graduate to bulls-eyes, waves, and zig-zags, you’re officially in the major leagues.

FAQ about striping your lawn

1. How can I fix a mistake?

If you go off-course while you’re mowing, don’t sweat it. Let’s say you veer right into the lane you’ve just completed while you’re trying to swat a mosquito. Re-cut the previous row and your current row to fix the mistake. 

2. Will my lawn look like a professional sports turf when I’m done?

Your lawn will look a little different from a baseball field or other professional turf for one simple reason: It will be taller. Professional groundskeepers mow sports turf very short — as short as one-eighth of an inch on putting greens. As we mentioned earlier, a taller mow will leave you with a more noticeable striping effect in your home lawn.

3. How do I stripe my lawn around an obstacle? 

Let’s say you want your stripes to remain in a straight line across the driveway or on both sides of a swing set. Keep your eye straight ahead as you mow, about 10 feet in front of you. This will help you to maintain a straight line as you go across the obstacle and resume mowing on the other side. 

If you suffer from a serious case of ballpark envy, contact one of our local lawn care pros. They know just how to fertilize, mow, and stripe the lawn to make it ready for the big leagues.

Main Photo Credit: AdamKR | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Sarah Bahr

Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, raise chickens, and mow the grass with her battery-powered lawn mower.