This article has the professional seal of approval from Martyn Hooper, owner of Hoopers Garden Maintenance. Martyn has spent years mastering the art of lawn stripes for his UK-based landscape maintenance business – by following the advice listed here, you too can add this eye-catching skill to your repertoire.

The finishing touch on a pristine lawn: lawn stripes are the sign of premium lawn care to many. The classic striped look is a familiar sight across sports pitches, golf courses and the most meticulously maintained English-style gardens.

Lawn stripes can go a long way to making grounds look polished – they're a great way to elevate your finished product and attract new business. The service may distinguish you from competitors, giving you the edge in your local area.

The good news is that though achieving this signature look takes extra time and consideration, it's pretty straightforward to do. By following these easy steps, you'll have it mastered in no time.

How do lawn stripes work?

Before you can start learning the process of lawn striping, it's important to understand how it works.

Essentially, lawn striping relies on light reflecting off grass blades in alternating directions. By bending the grass in rows of the same direction one way and then switching to the opposite, you can create the illusion of alternating dark and light stripes.

Typically blades bent towards you will appear a darker shade of green as they are pressed down towards the earth, while the grass bent away will appear much lighter as they reflect the light of the sun.

What equipment will you need for striping?

Striping is all about cutting grass to a consistent height and being able to press the blades down in the direction you want. To achieve this, there are a few pieces of equipment you'll need in your tool kit.

What type of mower should you use?

There's no doubt about it, when dealing with precise work such as striping a lawn, the close cut and scissor-like action of a cylinder mower's blades are ideal for creating the sharp edges of professional-looking, gradient free stripes.

But that's not to say it can't be done with a rotary mower too. When it comes to lawn striping, it's the pressing action rather than the cutting itself which causes the stripe. So though the chopping motion of a rotary can make it trickier to achieve the clean finish of a cylinder mower, sharp blades paired with a sturdy roller can do the trick.

The size of your client's green space will determine whether you use a ride-on or walk-behind lawn mower, but either mower can be used to produce crisp stripes. Though you should bear in mind the heavier your machine, the more chance it has of successfully 'ironing' flat the grass you're mowing.

“I’ve used Kawasaki engines on my mowers for quite some time now and find them fantastic, reliable and very powerful. Exactly what I want with my mower.”

- Martyn Hooper, Hoopers Garden Maintenance

A person mowing the grass

Use a roller to bend the grass

Ultimately, what creates the different tones that make up the stripes on a lawn is the grass blades being pressed down in one direction or another. For this, you'll need some form of rear roller.

Aside from creating visually appealing lawn strips, having a roller attachment will help your mower deal with uneven terrain; rollers flatten out and ride straight over any bumps on the ground as you mow.

Invest in a striping kit

Many rotary and cylinder mowers already come fitted with a roller that will bend the grass as you mow, but if yours doesn't, you can invest in a lawn striping kit instead. They attach to the rear of your mower's deck or frame and perform in the same way a roller presses the grass.

Some lawn mowers, particularly ride-on mowers and zero-turn mowers, have heavier components towards the rear. This weight distribution can also naturally bend the grass in the direction of travel, creating stripes as you mow. However, the effect may not be as pronounced as mowing stripes with a dedicated striping accessory.

Preparing the lawn

As with most lawn maintenance techniques, preparing the lawn is key to getting a great result with sharp stripes that stand out. Without a healthy base, no number of attempts at intricate designs will make a lawn look good, so first off make sure you're following a good lawncare regime.

As you would for any client, prepare the lawn by removing any moss or weeds, and filling any sparse patches by overseeding well in advance of when you start mowing.

Choose the right grass

Before you start it's also important to be mindful of what kind of grass you're working with. Different types will respond to the process of striping in their own ways, and you may have to adjust your technique accordingly.

The best kind of grass to perform striping on is cool-season grass such as fescue, rye or bluegrass, because tall grass tends to bend easier, making for a crisp and long-lasting pattern.

Warm season grasses are typically much shorter and coarser meaning they're harder to bend to your will and create a classic stripe. That doesn't mean it can't be done, however!

If your client has their heart set on a striped lawn but has a warm season species such as Bermuda or Zoysia, you'll need to add more weight to your roller to get it to bend.

If it doesn't work out the way you want on the first pass, try double cutting, going over the lawn in the same pattern again to reinforce the stripes.

3 easy steps to achieving a striped lawn

A lawn mower on a long fresh cut lawn

So, you've prepared your client's lawn to be as healthy as can be, removed any debris and recognised what type of grass you're working with. What next?

Well, now it's time for the striping to commence!

Make a plan

Before starting your mower, draw up a plan of the pattern you're going for based on the layout of your client's green space and any obstacles that might get in your way.

When starting out, it's recommended to begin with a simple horizontal stripe which will give you the desired stripe effect without overcomplicating it.

If your client allows it, it can be helpful to set out some chalk marking on their lawn to give yourself a guide to work around while out on the mower.

Mow a perimeter

In a perfect world, your clients' lawns would all be perfectly square. It's rarely the case, however, which can make mowing straight lines tricky.

You can tackle this issue by first mowing a perimeter so that when it's time to stripe you can work with an easier shape. Once a perimeter is in place, you can follow a simple straight up-and-down design to create your desired striped pattern.

Mow your first stripe carefully

When it comes to the actual mowing, start by finding a fence or pavement that you can mow parallel to. If there's nothing that will work, you can instead pick out a focal point at one end of your client's lawn, such as a tree or fence, and mow a straight line towards it.

Just remember, your first stripe acts as a guide for the rest, so take your time to get it perfect.

With each pass, slightly overlap the side of your previous row to ensure even coverage all around.

Top tip: To get a straight line, look at the ground roughly ten feet ahead of you. Not only will it let you spot any remaining obstacles ahead of time, it'll help to keep you on the straight and narrow.

A person riding a lawn mower

Show us your stripes

Being able to create crisp lawn stripes can really elevate your work, and developing a signature stripe can act as a business card making your lawns immediately recognisable, catching the eye of new potential clients in the area – or slightly further afield if you post the results online.

Once you have the technique perfected you can venture into creating more complex patterns, such as a checkerboard, diamond or zig-zag design.

Having the skill is one thing, but you need to make sure you have the equipment to back it up. Efficient and reliable commercial-level machinery is key in enabling busy landscapers to do their best work, something that’s easy with machines that are Powered by Kawasaki.

If you have mastered the art of lawn striping and performed it on one of your client's lawns, tell us about it! Share your work with us via our social media, we’d love to see the results!

To see more of Martyn’s work and skill with lawn stripes, visit his Instagram page here, or follow him on Facebook.