How to Pattern Mow Your Lawn

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How to mow a striped pattern into your lawn to add to your home's landscaping and curb appeal.

If you have watched a baseball game recently you might have noticed the striping pattern on the infield and outfield. Pattern mowing or grass striping is not as complicated as it seems and with a little planning the average homeowner can recreate a pattern in his own lawn. You will be the talk of your neighborhood and once you get the hang of it you can develop more interesting patterns.

Baseball Field

Striping pattern in a lawn


The patterns created in the lawn are down by bending the blades in opposing directions after they have been cut. Grass bent away from your point of view appears lighter because the light is reflected off the length of the grass blade, while grass bent towards you appears darker because you see the tips of the grass. Patterns are more visible if you keep your lawn high, between 2 ½ and 4 inches depending on the type of grass; leaving the grass higher will also require less water. Warm season grasses such as zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda are shorter and have a rigid blade that is difficult to bend. Cool season grasses are typically taller, such as bluegrass, rye, and fescue bend more easily to show the patterns. Any striping should only be done when the lawn healthy and watered, lawns that are dormant or under stress due to drought conditions should not be striped.

Reel mowers bend the grass blades more effectively due to the roller behind the reel blades. If you have a standard lawn mower or riding mower, you can purchase or rent a weighted striping attachment. There are a few types of striping attachments from rollers and flexible rubber skirts to brushes.

Rubber Skirt


Turf Brush

For a simple striped lawn use the following steps:

1. Decide on what pattern you want to mow into your lawn; it is best to start off with a simple striping pattern. You may want to mow so it looks good from the street for better curb appeal or pattern it for your enjoyment. Talk a walk around your property and look at the sight lines to see where you should make your stripes.

2. Mow around the perimeter of your lawn two widths of the mower deck. This will allow you to make turns without altering your pattern.

3. Mow in opposing directions. Keep your line of sight straight by focusing on a point in the distance. Keep your eyes ahead and use your peripheral vision to check where the mower deck is.

4. If you have a riding mower, slowly make “Y” turns at the end of each row. This will prevent turf damage and put you in position for the next pass.

1. At end of mowing path, turn toward next mowing path.

2. Reverse while turning slightly in opposite direction to align mower with next mowing row.

3. Proceed into next mowing path.

6. Mow around a tree or other permanent obstacle by mowing in a curve around the tree on the first stripe, then mowing a regular stripe the second pass. The second stripe will cover up the deviation in the first stripe.

7. Mow the perimeter again to align the grass blades and clean up any uneven areas.

Tip: Try not to mow the same pattern more than two times in a row. Grass develops a memory and it will lay down in that pattern and make it harder to cut.

To make a checkerboard pattern in the grass by following these steps:

1. Mow the perimeter of your lawn

2. Decide on the starting striping direction such as North to South. Mow in a North to South direction and then come back with a parallel cut South to North.

3. Continue until the whole lawn is mowed.

4. Mow around the perimeter to one corner and begin mowing East to West. Continue mowing in this perpendicular orientation until the lawn is mowed again.

5. Mow around the perimeter of your lawn again to cover any turning patterns.


Kathleen Murphy
Posted on Jul 16, 2011
Roberta Baxter
Posted on Jul 13, 2011