Pitch-Perfect Lawn:
Make Your Grass Big-League Ready

Does your heart stir when you watch a baseball game and see a neatly striped playing field? Those clean and crisp patterns – checkerboards, diamonds, stripes – do not happen by accident. On time and every time, sporting field groundskeepers produce flawless lines before games with a technique called lawn striping.

If you would love this look for your lawn, you don’t have to apply for a job on the Wrigley Field ground crew to learn how to do it. With an understanding of how lawn striping works and a well-functioning and maintained lawn tractor, you, too, can have a neatly patterned lawn each time you mow – with surprisingly little effort.http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2012/03/how-baseball-groundskeepers-achieve-checkerboard-patterns-in-the-ballpark-grass/

The Science of Lawn Striping

Without realizing it, you may have already created a basic striped lawn as a result of mowing with a regular push or tractor mower. You produce the effect when you push the mower in one direction and then double back on an adjacent, parallel path.

Pitch Perfect Lawn: The Science of Lawn Striping

A Matter of Optics

Lawn striping turns happenstance into predictability. It ensures that the lines are orderly and precise and that they are laid down in prescribed patterns.

Most importantly, lawn striping increases the color contrast between adjoining lines by making one row lighter colored and its neighboring row darker. This sharp contrast is what makes your pattern stand out. You’ll achieve this look by pressing down one row of grass so that it is facing one direction and is as flat as possible. You’ll give the next row the same treatment but in the opposite direction.

Alternately intensifying and minimizing light reflection on the grass is at the heart of this illusion. You see this effect at the ocean: When you’re facing the water and the sun is in front of you, the light reflects at a certain angle and turns the water shimmering silver or gold. When you’re facing the water and the sun is behind you, the water looks dark.

Striped grass works the same way. Grass that is bent away from you is brighter than grass that is bent in your direction. Simply walk to the opposite side of a striped lawn to see the light and dark rows change positions.

Grass Length

If you’ve ever had a haircut that was too short, you know that short strands of hair refuse to lie down. Often, not even gels and sprays can convince short hair to bend and remain down.

Lawn striping relies on grass bending, so those grass blades need to be long enough to stay down without help.

Two groundskeepers for major league ballparks report that they cut their grass to lengths ranging from 1 1/8 inches to 2 inches with rotary mowers, followed by rolling over the same areas with the mower blades disengaged. With some cold-season grasses, they can go as short as 1 inch and still create prominent stripes.http://grounds-mag.com/mag/grounds_maintenance_establish_mowing_patterns/

Grass Types

Cold-season grasses are better than warm-season grasses for striping because the grass blades contain more water, making them more pliable and receptive to bending.

Recommended cold-season grass types for striping include fescue, bluegrass, and rye grass. Warm-season grasses such as Bermuda and zoysia will produce only a faint striping appearance.http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/lawns/pump-up-your-grass-with-pinstripes

Lawn Striping Patterns and How to Create Them

Ballpark ground crews are so adept at their job that they can create team logos, symbols, and icons like stars and crowns. And yes, they do it all by bending grass – no paint involved.https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2015/08/12/mlb-outfield-design-grass-logo# You may want to stick with three equally stunning patterns that are simple to create.


Pros recommend thoroughly surveying the lawn to remove foreign objects that may catch in the mower blades or in the striping kit.

With each pattern, begin by completely mowing around the perimeter of the lawn once. The perimeter gives you a safe zone that allows you to turn around.

With all patterns, use a three-part Y turn:

  1. At the end of a row, enter the perimeter and veer toward the next row.
  2. Reverse.
  3. Drive forward into the next mowing row.http://www.scag.com/faq2.html#opturn


  1. Create a mowed perimeter.
  2. Mow parallel rows all the way across the lawn, making certain that each row goes in the opposite direction of its adjacent row—be sure to make a tight Y turn.
  3. Mow another complete perimeter to cover up turn marks.


  1. Create a mowed perimeter.
  2. Mow lawn in stripes (see above).
  3. At the end of your last row, stay in the perimeter, drive around the corner of the perimeter, and turn so that the tractor is facing 90 degrees to the stripes.
  4. Mow another striped pattern all the way across the lawn.
  5. Mow another complete perimeter to cover up turn marks.

Criss-Cross (Diagonal)

  1. Create a mowed perimeter.
  2. Mow diagonal parallel rows all the way across the lawn. As with the right-angle striping above, be sure that each row goes in the opposite direction of the one adjacent.
  3. At the end of your last row, stay in the perimeter and drive around the corner of the perimeter and turn so that the tractor is facing 90 degrees to the stripes.
  4. Mow another set of diagonal parallel rows.
  5. Mow once more over the perimeter to cover up turn marks.http://www.scag.com/lawnstriping.html

Tractors and Maintenance

Brushes and paint are the tools of fine artists. For you – artist of the lawn – the tools are a garden tractor equipped with rear power take off (PTO) and some special implements. In addition, you will need to improvise or purchase a striping kit that will press the grass down.

Lawn Tractor

Professional groundskeepers use both roller style and rotary blade mowers.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roller_mower Installing a supplementary dragger or roller called a striping kit will further help bend the grass. You may need to purchase a mower deck that can be powered by your tractor’s PTO.

Striping Kits

Striping kits attach to the back of your tractor and, either by rolling or dragging, press down the blades of grass. You can make your own or purchase kits made for this purpose.

DIY Lawn Striping Equipment - article title


For decades, groundskeepers have used any number of items that qualify as smooth, heavy, flat, and mower width to stripe grass. These include:


Some well-known manufactured kits include:

  • Scag Tiger Striper
  • Checkmate for Lawns
  • Toro Lawn Striping System

Lawn Tractor Maintenance

Keeping your lawn tractor humming and in tip-top condition is essential to achieving a perfectly striped lawn. Just like ballpark ground crews, you should keep a maintenance schedule chart. Organizing maintenance by specific parts and supplies will give you a clear picture of what needs to be changed and when.

A chart like the one below reminds you to check parts, note fill levels, and repair or replace certain parts at prescribed times:

Tractor Maintenance Schedule - Pitch Perfect Lawn


Lawn striping like the pros takes just a basic understanding of the optics – how grass can appear either light or dark – along with a PTO-equipped lawn tractor and simple implements such as a striping kit. With a little practice, you’ll be hosting the neighborhood ballgame in style.

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