Following are 2 ways to mow stripes in your lawn that resemble a golf course fairway or baseball outfield, using your own home lawn mower. In addition, I will let you in on a few secrets of the pros in case you really want to get crazy with your lawn love. When you’re done with this article, Read “Advanced Techniques for Mowing Stripes in Your Lawn.”
Mowing Stripes Method #1, the Manual Reel Mower
If you’re over age 50, you may remember mowing your lawn as a kid with a clunky old reel mower that would literally beat you to death! Well, with high gas prices and environmental awareness both on the rise, reel mowers are making a comeback: but they really haven’t changed much.
A reel mower has multiple blades that turn like a rolling pin. In addition, just after the cut, a roller depresses the turf. The combination of roll-spinning blades and a roller make for a nice stripe in your turf. See pictures for more detailed “how-to” on striping your lawn with a reel mower. You can price reel mower here.
Drawbacks to reel mowers:
- They are very messy and leave clippings everywhere that are NOT mulched into bits, therefore they must me raked up.
- In addition, reel mowing in thick grass is nearly impossible. When I mowed for this article, I had to hit the lawn twice in order to get a clean cut: what a workout! You still should overlap each pass only by half so you can get somewhat of a decent cut.
- It is very hard to cut a straight line with a reel mower because you have to push it so hard. Plus, whenever you hit a bump or rock in the lawn, you are thrown off course big time!
- Finally, you cannot get into corners or close to landscape boarders with them, and they are difficult to turn.
Mowing Stripes Method #2, The Traditional Rotary Mower
Your home lawn mower is more-than-likely a rotary walk behind mower, meaning the blade turns underneath the deck like a ceiling fan. While this blade setup offers little help in striping, the weight of the mower itself can be used to your advantage when striping the lawn.
The key is in the wheels. My lawn boy mower has fatter than normal wheels, but you can still get the same results with your mower too. In addition, using the mulching feature of your mower will help to slightly better define your stripes.
Keys to striping with your rotary mower
- First, you need to ensure that your first pass is straight, otherwise, all your future passes will be crooked. It’s like laying a wood floor: your first course has to be straight and true or the entire floor will be off.
- Second, the overlap is key in getting the stripes. You only want to overlap each previous pass by 6″ or less! This way you can maximize the wheels’ ability to push down the turf in 2 directions and create the illusion or a wide line in the turf.
- Finally, consistent speed is important. If your mower is rear-wheel drive self-propelled like mine, you will get very even, straight lines. If you are pushing the mower, you may have a difficult time keeping your stripes from appearing choppy.
Tips on How the Pros Stripe Lawns
Golf course fairways are striped using commercial gas-powered or tractor pulled reel mowers. These most normally have heavy steel rollers in front and behind the blades. In addition, many golf course fairways are seeded with bentgrass, which naturally takes a shorter cut and lays down more readily than your home grass.
Baseball outfields are also cut with similar-type mowers, but heavy steal rollers are also used to further press down the turf, thus creating extremely defined lines and designs.
Commercial mowers used by landscapers have oversized tires that create nice stripes (ruts too if they don’t do it right) and many of these commercial mowers have “striper” attachments that are rollers that flatten turf after cutting.
This free lawn tip brought to you by Life and Lawns. Feel free to leave comments!
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