Stripes not only look smart, they can also create an illusion of a longer, greener lawn – it’s no wonder that many of us desire the ‘formal’ look for our gardens. The effect is not difficult to attain but does require a little planning and some specific equipment.
What creates the stripes on a lawn?
Stripes are simply created by the two-tone contrasting colours of grass laid flat in one direction and again in the opposite direction. When the grass is bent away from you, it appears lighter in colour as light reflects off the fatter part of the grass plant. Pushed towards you, the grass looks darker.
What equipment do I need?
Firstly, you need to consider which type of lawnmower to use. The mower you choose should have a fixed roller mounted to the body machine that flattens the grass.
Walk-behind mowers – Cylinder or ‘reel’ mowers fitted with a roller can produce an excellent striped finish. These mowers work by using a spinning cylindrical blade at the front of the mower to slice the grass which is then flattened by a trailing roller. Cylinder mowers will produce a high-quality cut but they tend to be expensive and may require regular blade sharpening and maintenance. Hover mowers, which do not make contact with the ground, and mulching rotary mowers will not, by themselves, create the desired effect.
Ride-on mowers – Most ride-on mowers are poor at striping and either require a second pass with a heavy roller or an aftermarket ‘striping kit’ to achieve the effect. However, there are exceptions. Westwood garden tractors use collectors with a powered ‘sweeping’ system. These collectors have integrated rollers and will stripe as they cut.
How do I use my mower to achieve stripes?
A little bit of planning goes a long way when it comes to lawn striping. The illustration opposite shows a simple pattern that can be used, even by ride-on mower owners, to stripe the lawn and leave a neat and tidy border. Not only does this system produce uniform stripes, it is also an efficient way to mow a rectangular shaped lawn.
What about obstacles such as trees?
It is possible to continue the stripe through trees and ornaments. On your first pass approaching the obstacle, mow around the object into the path of the uncut grass. On your second pass, stripe over the marks you have just left. This manoeuvre takes some practice, but once mastered, it can give the impression that your lawn stripes go straight through any garden obstacle.