How to Stripe a Lawn with a Riding Mower, this is how to do it

At some point, you must have wondered how those striking stripes ended up on the lawn of your local football or soccer ground. They are usually not crafted with lawn paint or a fascinating grass species but by lawn striping. The easiest way to create grass patterns on your lawn is to use a grass roller attached to your riding mower to bend the grass in a certain direction. You can use a PVC pipe or thick rubber floor mats to perform the rolling job too.

A healthy lawn is a must-have if you want to get perfect stripes. If you have small grass, wait for 10 to 15 days for the grass to longer. Creating the striping might seem complicated, but it is not. Start with simple patterns, and with time, you’ll become a pro. In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to create basic grass patterns on your lawn.

How to stripe your lawnmower with a riding mower, this is how to do it:

  • Basic Column Stripes: You can achieve alternative light and dark columns by mowing/rolling the adjacent columns in the opposite direction.
  • Checkerboard Pattern: First, create the basic lengthwise column stripes. Then mow perpendicular to the basic stripes to create a checkerboard pattern.
  • Crisscross:  Define the parameter and start mowing diagonally. It’s all about direction, so make sure you are mowing adjacent columns in the opposite direction.
  • Zigzag: To create a zigzag pattern, start by making a crisscross or a checkerboard pattern. They can act as a template. Make 90 degree turns after three consecutive blocks crossing dark or light columns depending on your starting point.
How to Stripe a Lawn with a Riding Mower, this is how to do it 1
(CC BY 2.0) by Jo Naylor

Use a Riding Lawn Mower:

Striping are the magic of optics. The reflection of sunlight on the grass’s edges highlights the patterns when the grass is pressed in a certain direction. A well-cut and evenly trimmed lawn with stripes are very nice to the eye, but it can be a very tedious task with a push mower. We recommend using a riding mower for this job. If you are serious with your striping and want to tackle more complex patterns, using a zero-turn lawn mower can make your job easier.

Striping Kits:

The easiest way to create stipes is to purchase a striping kit. They can be attached to your electric or gasoline-based riding lawnmower. As we explained earlier, that roller is the main part of the stripping kits. Its job is to press down the grass. You can buy them online or at your dealer. But if you don’t have one, or do not want to spend the money on one, you can make one yourself. We have two DYI lawnmower striping rollers for you:

● PVC Pipe:

If you do not want to spend money on industrial-grade rollers, a PVC pipe can be an effective and cheap stripping kit for you. Cut a piece of a PVC pipe equal to the width of your riding lawnmower, fill it with sand or wet clay, and cap it with PVC caps of the same diameter as the pipe. Attach this pipe with the metal shaft at the back of your mower, and there you have a cheap and DIY-style stripping kit.

● Boat Trailer Rollers:

Take a crankshaft whose length is equal to or comparable with your riding mower’s width and mount dense rubber boat rollers on the shaft and attach the shaft to your mower with rigid metal brackets or chains.  These rollers are heavy enough to press the grass; you do not have to add extra weight to the rollers.

The Way Striping Works:

Beautiful lawn patterns are produced when the sunlight reflects from differently cut and maintained grass areas. The portion of the grass edges bending toward you will look dark green, while the one bowing away will look light green. Close to each other, they produce an enhanced visualization of light and dark stripes that can be very sharp. Increasing and limiting light reflection on the grass is at the core of this deception. You can observe this effect at sea too: When you are looking at seawater, and the sun is before you, the light reflects a way that gives the shining water silver or golden color. Whereas, when you are looking at seawater with the sun behind you, the water seems dim.

Lawn striping can increase color contrast between bordering lines by making one column lighter and its adjoining line darker. You can accomplish this simple yet elegant look by pushing down one column of grass, bowing it in one direction, and keeping it as level as possible. You will give the following column a similar treatment but in the other direction.

Creating Lawn Patterns with a Riding Mower:

All the logos, crowns, and stars made on the playing fields are made by bending the grass in a certain direction by people who are pros at this game. They know what to do and how to do it. It is all about the direction you bend the grass in and how much you press it against the ground. Creating patterns is not too difficult, especially the simpler ones. We’ll teach you how to create some basic patterns that are easy but will make your lawn look great.

● Basic Column Pattern:

To create a pattern of lighter and darker columns, define your lawn’s perimeter and outline the area. This helps to have a good idea of where to start and where to end. For a basic pattern, you only need to mow adjacent columns in opposite directions so that light reflects differently from the edges bent in opposite directions, creating a contrast.  

Take care when you are turning your riding mower because it can ruin your strips at the edges. You can lift the roller from the ground so that it will not press against the grass. You will get a clear definition and contrast. The second thing you can do is make a U-turn from the outline you defined earlier so that if something goes wrong, you can do a second round on the perimeter or outline after finishing your main stripes on the lawn.

● Checkerboard Pattern:

You can achieve a checkerboard pattern by doing an extra layer on the basic column stripes perpendicularly. To create this pattern, you’ll have to mow the outline around the lawn first. Once the outline is done, start doing the basic stripes on the lawn lengthwise. When you are done with the stripes lengthwise, repeat the same widthwise to get a beautiful and fascinating checkerboard design. Take extra care while turning your riding mover. Finish your pattern by mowing on the parameter once again. This will remove any irregularity on the outline due to turning on the edges.

● Crisscross Pattern:

The crisscross pattern is achieved simply by moving diagonally. Define the parameter and mow the lawn the same as the checkerboard pattern but in the two diagonal directions instead of lengthwise and widthwise.

● Zigzag Stripe Pattern:

The zigzag pattern is a lengthy process, but crisscross or diagonal stripes can help you. These patterns can act as a template for your zigzag pattern.

First of all, either select a light color stripe or a dark stripe; it does not matter what you choose as the starting point. You should mow in alternative directions on adjacent rows. For example, once you are done with the crisscross pattern, choose a light color stripe as your starting point for the zigzag pattern. Mow on the light column, then cross the dark column to the next light column and turn your riding mower very carefully, precisely at a 90-degree angle to the right. Now mow towards the next light column by crossing the dark column, then turn at an angle of 90 degrees to the left. Repeat this process until you have mowed the entire area.

Remember the direction of mowing; you should do the adjacent stripes in the opposite direction for a perfect pattern.  

Finish your job by mowing the outline to have a clean zigzag pattern on your lawn. The zigzag pattern is a bit more complicated as compared to the other patterns mentioned above. You should consult a video tutorial if the written description confuses you.

Maintenance of Riding Lawnmower:

As a lawn artist, you need to take your equipment’s best care after finishing your artwork. Maintenance involves both cleaning and servicing. The best practice would be to clean your mower after every mowing session. Clean the mower deck with a brush, clean cloth, and water. Or use the water hose connection that many more recent riding lawnmowers have. Keep the blades and the cutting area clean. Check the blades regularly, and sharpen when needed. If the blades are damaged, they need to be replaced.

You should check fuel and oil levels before each mowing. Gasoline should never be stored in the tank for more than 30 days. If stored longer, gas can go bad and harm the fuel line and the carburetor. The drive belts and pulleys and air and fuel filters should be regularly checked and maintained too.

Do you need a particular riding lawnmower for striping?

No, you do not need a particular type of riding lawnmower to create stripping on your lawn. You do need a special attachment roller that moves the grass in a certain direction. But you can attach those to almost all riding mowers. When you want to mow more complex striping, quickly turning the lawnmower is important. For this reason, a zero-turn lawnmower could be an excellent option.

When should I use a riding lawnmower?

You should use a riding lawnmower if you have land bigger than a half-acre or so. A push or self-driving lawnmower will cut with a similar result, but it can be tedious and time-consuming for larger areas. A typical riding mover consists of a riding wheel, various controls, a steering wheel, and a cutting deck. Furthermore, it would be best to choose a more extended cutting deck for larger yards since the sharp edge will likewise be longer and cut more grass in one go.

When shopping for a riding mower, you’ll have several gas and electric riding lawnmower options to choose. An electric riding mower is easy to operate and requires considerably less maintenance than a gas one. But for some bigger lawnmowers, the electric mower is less powerful. The area you can cut depends on the size of the batteries. When they are empty, you need to wait sometime before they are recharged. In a gas mower, you fill the tank with fresh gas, and you are good to go. Some more expensive mowers have additional features like cup holders, cruise control, and even CD players. Your choice of a riding mower should primarily depend on the demands of your lawn, and extra features should be of secondary importance.

Final Remarks:

This blog post is a detailed guide on achieving incredible grass patterns with a riding mower’s help. There are several riding lawnmower attachments you can choose to get the desired striping result. We have explained how to get the different grass striping patterns. With time, you’ll gain experience and won’t need guidelines anymore. Ensure that you take good care of your riding mower, as proper maintenance can increase life and efficiency.

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