How do they make the grass stripes on baseball fields?

We love the alternating stripes of light green and dark green grass you see on major league ball fields.

But if you want to make your own backyard lawn look like that, how do you do it?

Daytime Safeco Field - grass stripes baseball

Agricultural art

It seems like every ballpark these days — from Yankee Stadium down to your local Little League lot — has a pattern in the grass. Whether it’s a checkerboard, spirals, diamonds, stars, or any of a myriad of shapes and designs, they’re all doing it now.

So yeah, it looks cool. And wouldn’t it look awesome in your own front yard or backyard?

Fortunately, creating basic patterns doesn’t take much in the way of fancy equipment or replanting your yard — you just need a little patience and time.

Artistic lawnmowing techniques

According to the Cornell University Department of Horticulture, who offer some detailed mowing techniques for lawns, sports and other landscapes, the best results come from using a lawnmower with a roller on the back. As you mow in one direction, the grass is pressed down to give a lighter color, and in the other to create a darker color.

Specifically, you want the grass bent away from the viewer to make it appear lighter, and bent toward the viewer to make it appear darker. When the grass is bent away from you, the light is reflecting off the long part of the blade — but when it is bent toward you, you are looking at the tips of the blades and the corresponding shadowed area around the tips, making it appear darker.

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While this can be done by going over the grass after it is cut with a separate roller, professionals note the roller has a better effect if used along with the lawnmower itself.

So, stripes are easy — just alternate directions with each stripe (north on one, south on the next). For a checkerboard pattern, you’ll want to add east/west paths after you complete your north/south ones (or vice versa). A diagonal pattern is just a checkerboard pattern cut on an angle.

It’s worth nothing that this really only works on full, lush, rich lawns — so if your lawn is looking a little down, some fertilizing and overseeding can help bring it up to the fullness you need for a truly impressive pattern cut.

So go ahead — break out the mower and the roller and dazzle your neighbors.

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