For lawn aficionados and artists, a well-striped lawn is a sign of skill, and often status. For years people thought only golf courses and baseball fields had the know-how to create beautifully striped grass, but with a striping kit for lawn mower models that range from riding to walk-behind, you can create stunning stripes in your lawn.
That idea that only professionals can create epic lawn patterns in grass turned out be a big misconception when, in 2001, David Mellor, the Director of Grounds at Fenway Park, published a book of his professional knowledge in the topic.
The secret turned out to be far simpler and easier to attain than most people knew. With a simple trick and some practice, anyone can create lawn a beautifully manicured lawn, and if you’re a lawn care service, this is a major selling point.
The Basic Science Behind Lawn Striping
There’s some simple science behind lawn striping. Plants, like leaves and grass, have a waxy side called a cuticle that they use to help retain and direct water to their roots.
Every blade of grass in your lawn has this, and it’s the key component to lawn striping. The waxy cuticle reflects light differently than its paler opposite side. The striping effect is caused by bending the grass in opposite directions.
This works best on colder temperature grasses, which retain more liquid and bend better, and it shows up best when grass is tall enough to bend with at least a 2-inch height. At a lower height, the effect would be muted.
Striping Your Lawn: The Basics
Striping your lawn requires mowing around the perimeter of the lawn to make a working zone, which you use to make turns using a Y-turn to make consistent parallel lines.
A simple stripe pattern is done by turning around and cutting a straight line in an opposite direction from the adjacent line.
To make a grid pattern, go over the lawn again from the opposite side, perpendicular to the existing stripes.
It’s also possible to make a diagonal-pattern striping by using the same principle as the grid pattern but angled to the edges of the lawn.
Using a Striping Kit for Your Mower
For best results, attach a striping kit to the back of your mower. A striping kit is a weighted bar that drags behind the mower to further press down the grass, bending it further to reflect light most starkly. You don’t need a striping kit necessarily and will get some effects just from the safety strip at the rear of a standard mower but investing in one will makes your lines crisper and clearer.
Any hardware store will sell a kit, and depending on what you want, they’ll range from $10-$15, upwards of $100 and beyond. The simplest kits are typically heavy rubber mats that drag along the ground. Some lawnmowers’ safety strips are pre-equipped with these as a standard feature, making striping simply a perk.
The most expensive kits look like a line of wheels or a cylindrical bar that trails behind the mower. There are many DIY options available. It’s easy to attach your own rubber mat to the back of a mower, or to drag a PVC pipe capped at both ends and filled with either sand or water.
The Best Kit Depends On Your Mower
You’ll have to make some considerations depending on the type of lawn mower you have.
Obviously a zero-turn or tractor mower will have more expensive striping kits by upwards of a factor of 4, just due to their increased size.
The zero-turn equivalent of a $100 striping kit for a walk-behind mower costs almost $400 in its larger equivalent.
More budget options are available, and depending on your usage, may be the better choice.
It makes more sense for a lawn care company to buy a premium striping kit. As a professional, you’ll use it constantly as part of your business. For homeowners, I recommend choosing a less expensive model to get started. They work just fine for most smaller yards.
I own this kit I picked up from Home Depot.
In all cases, you want to make sure the width of the kit is compatible with your mower. Be certain you can line up your striping kit while cutting your grass.
The most important thing to consider when buying a striping kit for lawn mowers is the width of your mower and buying a lawn mower striping kit that’s the same width.
DIY Lawn Striping Kits?
A DIY lawn striping kit is easy to assemble for almost any model lawn mower. You just need to build it to match your mower’s size.
Be as creative as you’d like by crafting one out of PVC, some old rubber mats, or even sandbags.
As long as its heft drags behind the mower as you cut your grass.
Ryan Knorr has a great video about striping kits you can check out:
Final Thoughts About Lawn Mower Striping Kits
Whichever you decide, your technique is the most important element when creating stripes in your lawn.
It doesn’t matter how fancy or premium your striping kit is if you don’t use it to its full extent.
That simple change will already make a difference in the look of your lawn. That’s because lawn striping increases your overall lawn health. Low spots form in your grass when taller blades block sun access to shorter blades. By alternating the direction of your mowing, you increase the sun absorption for your lawn, leading to more pristine uniformity.
My one word of advice is to change it up with each mow. Don’t always mow or stripe your lawn in the same direction. It’s much healthier for your lawn to take different routes across your lawn each time you mow. It can help prevent soil compaction, and allows your grass to thrive.
But you’ll need a healthy lawn before you achieve the results you want. Once you have that down, you’ll find a striping kit will make all the difference.