Contrary to popular belief, those fancy lawn stripes or patterns you see on professional ballpark or football fields aren't painted on, nor are they achieved by mowing at different heights. Rolling, brushing or bending the grass affects how the light reflects off of the grass blade, thus creating stripes or even specially designed patterns such as checkerboards and diamonds. Here's how to do it.
Lawn Stripes Made Easy
It's a lot easier than you think to put professional looking stripes in your sports fields. At pro fields, sports turf managers use a vertical reel type mower to achieve the effect of lighter and darker green stripes. But you don't need to buy fancy mowers to create stripes like the pros.
In fact, you've probably inadvertently created stripes with your home mower if you use a walk-behind reel mower. Standard rotary mowers can't automatically achieve this because it requires a roller or some sort of vertical movement to push or brush the grass in one direction to create the stripes. But by changing direction as you mow, the brushing and rolling on the grass is alternated and stripes appear. It's that simple.
Anyone can do it and no expensive equipment is needed. However, there are some recently developed equipment accessories that make it even easier.
Know Your Turf
Recently, companies have begun to offer grass striping kits that you can attach to your existing mowers. But before you rush out and buy one, you need to know what type of grass you have because it may affect how well these attachments will work.
Northern grasses such as Bluegrass and fescues stripe well. Dormant Bermuda grass over-seeded with rye grass seed, a combo typical in the South, also does well with striping. You may have trouble striping Bermuda-type turf in the summer. It's possible to do but you still may need to mow or stripe the grass in different directions because Bermuda turf grasses tend to "grain" and that may interrupt ball roll on a sports field.
A Few Words About Ball Roll
There's some who believe grass bending could affect the roll of the ball. That's not true. As long as the sports turf manager changes the mowing pattern every few weeks, ball roll will not be affected. As mentioned earlier, Bermuda grass tends to cause more “snaking” of the ball when it rolls across the field after being batted. To eliminate the “snaking” effect many turf managers will mow the grass in the direction the ball would roll towards the outfielder’s position.
There you have it. Now that you know the secret of striping like the pros, you're one step closer to creating winning sports fields.