Few gardening jobs leave you with the same satisfaction as a beautifully cut, perfectly striped lawn. If it's something you've always wanted to try, but you're not sure how it works, then you're in the right place! Here at the Green Reaper we're the experts in all things lawn related, so follow our guide to create the perfect piece of garden artwork.

Getting Your Equipment Ready

First things first - equipment. Whether you're striping a compact back garden or a larger field, you'll need a good quality mower. Sharp blades and a clean cut will mean your edges are neater, enhancing the overall effect, and it'll mean you get the job done faster too. Hover mowers are harder to use for striping, as it can be more difficult to keep them in a perfectly straight line, but with a little effort most lawn mowers will work. Creating the striped effect is all about the direction in which the grass leans - to the eye, the lawn will be a slightly different colour depending on whether the blades are pointing towards or away from you. As a result, you will need to use a roller after cutting, as this enhances the effect by making the blades lean further. Without a roller, you can usually create a faint stripe with many mowers, but it won't look as good as with one. If you're serious about striping, then rather than using a separate roller, opt for a rear roller lawn mower, or a tow-behind attachment for your ride-on. Choosing a cylinder mower rather than a rotary will also help to ensure that you get a really consistent lean direction.

On the subject of grass direction, when setting up your mower, be aware that cutting the grass too short will lessen the amount it can bend, reducing the effect. Generally you'll get the most dramatic effects above 3 inches in height.

Keep a Steady Hand

Once you've got your mower and roller ready, then the actual process is fairly simple. Follow one of the patterns below, mowing in nice, straight lines, and lifting the cutting deck when you reach the end of a row. It's often easiest to make your first pass line up against something you know to be perfectly straight such as a fence or wall. This way you can continually follow a straight line - it can be harder to stay on the straight and narrow than you'd think. It can help to look towards the other side of the lawn as you walk (or ride) rather than just in front of you.

If you have a separate roller, then you simply use this to go over the lines you've already made with the mower.

Pattern 1: The Classic Stripe

The most common pattern you'll find gracing the very best kept lawns is of course the classic stripe effect, which will look great in most people's' gardens. It's also fairly straightforward - if you can keep your mower in a straight line, then you can get this one looking great! The first thing to do is mow around the perimeter against the very edge of the grass. This way you'll be giving yourself a channel to walk around in. Then, get started by moving up and down or across in opposite directions. Take care when turning round at the end to avoid churning up the grass, but don't worry about going over into the channel you created, because the final step is to go over this channel again, creating a nice clean edge to the stripes.

Pattern 2: The Checkerboard

The checkerboard is for those who want to go one step further in demonstrating the quality of their lawn. With additional passes, you'll create a grid of squares with several different shades of green. This pattern requires you to be a little more accurate, as the eye will spot uneven squares quickly, but with a little practice you'll be getting it right in no time at all. Once you've created stripes in one direction, as with the classic stripe, do exactly the same but in the other direction. Again, once you've finished, go round the perimeter again to tidy up the edges.

 

Pattern 3: Diagonal Stripes & Checks

Diagonal striping is essentially the same as the classic stripe, but you're moving across at about 45 degrees from the perimeter rather than parallel or at 90 degrees. There are no special techniques to this one, but it can be harder to get a perfect diagonal going as you won't necessarily have anything to line up against. Take some time getting the very first stripe right, and the rest should follow suit.

You can also follow the same strategy as with the checkerboard to create diagonally oriented squares as seen in the pattern below.

Pattern 4: Obstacles

If you've got a tree, a planter or another obstacle in your lawn then you may be wondering how you incorporate it into your pattern. It's actually much easier than you'd think. As you reach the obstacle, mow up against and around it. Then on the next stripe when you're coming back the other way, mow as you normally would, but as you reach the pre-cut area where you went round the obstacle, carry on straight through it. This will create the illusion that the stripe has gone straight through the obstacle. You might need to go round the object more than once (as shown below) depending on the size and orientation, but as long as you carry on with straight stripes once you're past it, you'll achieve the desired effect.Take a look at the patterns to see how it's done.

Getting the Professional Look

Practice makes perfect when it comes to lawn striping, but if you want to get the very best look, then keeping your grass in healthy condition is essential. Making sure it's well fertilised, dethatched and aerated will go a long way to making your lawn look like it's being looked after by a pro. Fortunately, you can find out more about the importance of fertilising, dethatching and aerating right here in our Gardening Tips section.

Once you've mastered the patterns above, you may wish to move on to more complex designs such as diamonds and bullseyes. These require a steady hand and careful planning, but will be the envy of the neighbourhood!