9 Best Mowers to Get Perfect Stripes


Picture of a Sports Field being mowed

Whether on purpose or not, lawns stand out as a symbol of a property’s standard. They are unmistakable signs of the property owner’s priorities. Whether it’s lush grass or a low-input lawn, striped or plain, each says something about the owner.

The striped effect is because of differences in light reflection – a product of mowing techniques, grass angle and type, and the light source position. This is achieved by bending the grass blades in alternate directions.

You can get great stripes on your lawn if you have the right tools and the right grass. This article will explore all the factors contributing to more distinct lawn stripes and the mowers used to do it. We’ll take a look at grass type, lawn length, mowers, and striping kits in detail. If you’d like the best-looking lawn, read on.

Lawn Type Categories

There are two types of lawn grasses in the United States: cool-season grasses and warm-season grasses. Its location will determine the grass types you choose for your property. We review both warm-season and cool-season grasses in this article.

In each category, we also present a brief overview of the most prevalent grass types. We provide links to certified research publications at the bottom of the post to help you make an informed conclusion.

U.S. Climate Regions and Grasses

The most commonly used grasses in each location are listed below. As specified by the Turfgrass Water Conservation Alliance (TWCA), low-input choices are included where applicable.

Deep South and Gulf Coast Region

Warm-Season

Common Regional GrassesBahia, Centipede
Alternative Regional GrassesZoysia, Seashore Paspalum, Buffalo, St. Augustine, Dichondra
Low Maintenance AlternativesTall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermuda Grass
Key Choice FactorsHigh Heat and Humidity, Coastal, Warm-Season

Midwest Region

Cool-Season

Common Regional GrassesKentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass
Alternative Regional GrassesBermudagrass, Fine Fescues
Low Maintenance AlternativesNo additional low-maintenance alternatives
Key Choice FactorsVarying Humidity, Ideal for Cool Season Grass Types

Northeast Region

Cool-Season

Common Regional GrassesKentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass
Low Maintenance AlternativesTall Fescue, Fine Fescues
Key Choice FactorsCold Winters, Cool Summers, High Humidity

Pacific Northwest Region

Cool-Season

Common Regional GrassesKentucky Bluegrass, Tall Fescue
Low Maintenance AlternativesBermudagrass, Fine Fescues,
Key Choice FactorsCool, Arid Conditions

Southeast Region

Warm-Season

Common Regional GrassesBahia Grass, Centipede Grass, Zoysia Grass, Buffalo Grass, St Augustine Grass, Dichondra Repens
Low Maintenance AlternativesTall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermudagrass
Key Choice FactorsHigh Heat and Humidity, Coastal, Warm-Season

Southwest Region

Warm-Season           

Common Regional GrassesBermuda Grass, Perennial Ryegrass
Low Maintenance AlternativesIn cooler areas – Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermudagrass
Key Choice FactorsHot and Arid

Transition Region

Cool-Season

Common Regional GrassesTall Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Kentucky Bluegrass
Low Maintenance AlternativesBermudagrass, Fine Fescues
Key Choice FactorsSome Heat Tolerance Required, Fluctuating temperatures

Grass Characteristics

Cool-season grasses stripe much better than warm-season lawns. However, many pitches in the south have Bermuda grass lawns, and regular care helps embed stripes.

Always mowing lanes in the same direction and over-rolling them with lawn rollers, again in the same direction, strengthens the direction the blades lean.

We’ve drawn up a table for the different seasonal grasses, their suggested mow heights, and how well (or easy) they stripe. Many homeowners, when thinking of reel mowers, think of sports parks or golf courses.

These facilities use reel mowers because they provide the healthiest cut method, and the stripes were initially just a by-product. The rollers commonly used to drive reel mowers cause the grass blades to lean in the cut direction. Alternating grass blade directions vary the reflected light, creating a striped look.  

GrassMow HeightStripe QualityMower Preference
Common Warm Season Grasses
Bermuda Grass¾ to 1½GoodReel or Rotary
Centipede Grass1½ to 2FairReel or Rotary
 St Augustine Grass2½ to 4GoodReel or Rotary
 Zoysia Grass¾ to 2Good if LongerReel or Rotary
Bahia Grass3 to 4FairRotary
Buffalo Grass1.5 to 4FairRotary
Seashore Paspalum1 to 1½Very GoodReel or Rotary
Bent Grass½ to 1PoorReel or Rotary
Dichondra Repens½ to 1PoorReel or Rotary
Common Cool Season Grasses
Kentucky Bluegrass2 – 2½Very GoodReel or Rotary
Perennial Ryegrass½ to 2½Very GoodReel or Rotary
Fine Fescue1½ to 4GoodReel
Tall Fescue2 to 3½Very GoodReel or Rotary

Warm Season Grasses

Warm-season grasses have no tolerance for cold. Some, such as the St Augustine grass, succumb to frost. Warm-season grass loves heat, full sun and is tolerant of salt and drought. There are numerous variants of each cultivar, and research continues to find strains that provide specific profiles.

Common Warm Season Grasses

Bermuda Grass

Bermuda grass stipes well. It is the most commonly occurring turf on sporting fields, golf course tee areas, and golf fairways in the southern United States.

Characteristics:

  • Warm-season grass
  • Requires full sun and good drainage
  • Suitable for southern lawns from coast to coast
  • Tolerant of heat, drought, traffic and salt
  • Intolerant of cold
  • Requires high maintenance and nutrient input

Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is well-known for its heat tolerance and ease of maintenance. Centipede grass is a popular choice among lawn owners searching for low-maintenance choices because it requires far less attention and input than other grasses. In comparison to other warm-season grasses, Centipede has a shallow root system. There is little contrast in color between the front and rear of the leaf, so Centipede does not stripe well. Centipede recovers fast after being stressed.

Characteristics

  • Warm-season grass
  • Heat-tolerant grass
  • Low maintenance and nutrient requirements
  • Moderate shade tolerance
  • Alkaline soil sensitivity
  • Shallow root system
  • Sensitive to iron deficiency
  • It does not permit Perennial Ryegrass overseeding.

St. Augustine Grass

The turf produced by St Augustine grass is a wonderful light to dark green color – and as a result, stripes well. It develops into a dense turf that thrives in most southern soils, even under the shade of the south’s famous live oak trees. St Augustine grass has a low wear tolerance.

Characteristics

  • Warm-season grass
  • Heat-tolerant grass
  • Dormant in winter
  • They are planted by vegetative means, including sod, sprigs or plugs.
  • Alkaline soil sensitivity
  • Most shade-tolerant warm-season grass
  • Fair saline tolerance
  • High maintenance
  • Requires an occasional short trim to manage thatch

Zoysia Grass

The active growth of zoysia grass begins in late spring and peaks in the summer heat. Zoysia is a perennial plant that will come back year after year if planted in the appropriate conditions. It is a good striping lawn if not cut too short, yet cut regularly.

Zoysia’s deep root system makes it extremely efficient at conserving moisture and surviving drought. Late spring marks the start of active zoysia grass growth, which peaks in the summer heat.

Characteristics

  • Warm-season grass that is more resistant to cold 
  • Prefers sun
  • Tolerates some light shade
  • Suitable for southern and transition zones
  • Heat and drought tolerant
  • Low water and maintenance requirements
  • Dense, heavy foot traffic tolerant growth

Bahia Grass

Bahiagrass is noted for its drought and heat tolerance and its capacity to grow in areas where other lawn grasses have failed. Bahiagrass creates a lawn that is often long-lasting, low-growing, and low-maintenance in this area. This warm-season, drought-resistant lawn flourishes in the sandy soils in the Southeast but does not stripe well.

Characteristics

  • Warm-season grass
  • Prefers full sun
  • Suitable for Deep South and Gulf Coast lawns
  • Heat and drought tolerant
  • Low water and nutrient requirements

Buffalo Grass

Buffalo grass thrives in full sun, although it can be grown with as little as 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight per day and still be a good turf. It’s one of the turfgrass species that can tolerate drought and harsh heat.

Characteristics

  • Warm-season grass
  • Prefers full sun
  • Tolerant of some shade
  • Extreme heat and drought tolerant
  • Low water and nutrient requirements
  • Low foot traffic

Seashore Paspalum

Seashore Paspalum is a salt-tolerant warm-season grass with appealing turfgrass characteristics. This particular grass can resist high salt levels in the soil or irrigation water in warm-season areas. It has a high tolerance for heat and salt and the capacity to tolerate some shade. The coastal paspalum can sustain some traffic during the spring and summer and recover quickly from moderate erosion.

Paspalum’s particular striping advantages provide a distinct advantage for sports fields and golf courses. One mower pass exhibits distinct striping patterns because of the wax load on shoots (giving paspalum its lustrous dark green color). In contrast, Bermuda grasses or Zoysia grasses require two or more mower passes.

Characteristics

  • Exception salt processing
  • Quick root development
  • Excellent striping properties
  • Low light tolerance
  • Low water and nutrient requirements
  • Can handle heavy foot traffic tolerant
  • Is the 2022 World Cup Qatar choice of turfgrass

Bentgrass

This grass is the most common grass in many environments, yet it is not by choice. Bentgrass is considered an “invasive species” in most cases. Bentgrass thrives at mowing heights of less than 1-1/2 inches and requires weekly mowing to stay green.

Creeping Bentgrass is a high-maintenance turf grass that necessitates professional lawn care. Because of its capacity to endure a shallow cut and recover quickly from high traffic and other traumas, it is normally only recommended for golf courses – think divots.

Characteristics

  • Considered an invasive “weed.”
  • Some states have outlawed it
  • It is both a warm- and cool-season grass
  • High maintenance
  • Putting green usage in some states (prohibited in others)

Dichondra (Repens)

Dichondra repens is a perennial that forms a low, dense mat in the right conditions. Except in central and southern California, Dichondra is endemic to the Coastal Plain States from Virginia to Texas.

It has kidney-shaped pale green leaves. Thick soil is ideal for it. The plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer, but it does need a lot of water. As it is more of a ground cover, it stripes poorly.

Characteristic

  • Grows well in shade
  • Is invasive
  • Requires a lot of water

Cool Season Grasses

Lawn grasses have various challenges due to cold winters, cool summers, and variable humidity levels. These areas require grasses that appreciate cool temperatures and are disease resistant.

Plants need to recover quickly from dry seasons in these places, which have low precipitation levels. Cool-season grasses generally stripe very well.

Common Cool Season Grasses

Kentucky Bluegrass

For many lawn owners in the United States, Kentucky bluegrass is the ideal lawn. When given the proper growing conditions and care, this grass matures into a dense, lush, and long-lasting lawn worthy of its name.

KBG presents and stripes well but requires a lot of upkeep. The advantages are well worth the effort if you want a perfect lawn. It grows well in northern climates with mild summers and cold winters.

Characteristics

  • Cool-season grass
  • Suitable for northern lawns from coast to coast
  • Excellent cold resistance
  • Some cultivars susceptible to heat and drought
  • Limited shade tolerance
  • Self-repair capability is exceptional
  • Some hybrids are sensitive to traffic stress

Perennial Ryegrass

The utilization of perennial ryegrass varies by region in the United States. Gardeners love this hardworking, fine-bladed grass because of its high germination rate and quick establishment.

It’s a must-have for both permanent northern lawns and temporary southern lawns in need of color in the winter. Perennial ryegrass flourishes in areas with mild summers and cold winters.

OreGro Research developed Pinstripe II perennial ryegrass for overseeding in the southern half of the United States. Pinstripe II is an exceptional choice for overseeding golf courses, sports fields, and home lawns in pursuit of the best-striped lawns.

Characteristics

  • Cool-season grass
  • Fast germination and seedling growth
  • It’s suitable for both permanent and temporary lawns as a filler
  • Good cold tolerance
  • Heat and drought tolerance variety dependent
  • Light shade tolerant

Fine Fescue

Chewings fescue, creeping red fescue, and hard fescue are the three fescue grass species that make up fine fescue. All three of these grasses can endure cold temperatures and fit in well with other cool-season grasses. Fine fescues aren’t hardy, but they do have a remarkable ability to thrive in dry shade.

Characteristics

  • Cool Season 
  • Excellent shade tolerance  
  • Minimal maintenance 
  • Not available as sod, only limited seed availability 
  • Mixed with Kentucky Bluegrass and Perennial Ryegrass for sun/shade 
  • Spread seed at 3-5 pounds per square foot 
  • Standard mowing height: 1.5 to 2.5 inches
Picture of striped grass

Tall Fescues

Tall fescue is a perennial bunch-grass that blooms in the spring and fall. Tall fescue is a popular turf choice for high-traffic residential lawns and shady areas. It can resist drought better than bluegrass, but dry weather necessitates more watering. Tall fescue grows well in both partial shade and direct sunlight and stripes excellently.

Characteristics

  • Cool-season
  • From fall until spring, you’ll be able to enjoy superb color and quality
  • Deep root system 
  • Start with seed or sod 
  • Average shade tolerance 
  • Best adapted cool-season variety
  • It needs a sharp mower blade for the healthiest maintenance 
  • A 90/10 combination of Tall Fescue / Kentucky Bluegrass tends to look good, resist disease and gives great striping ability
  • Standard mowing height: 2 to 3 inches

Reel mowers are quiet, clean, and effective if you get a good one. With hundreds to choose from, we have selected the nine best ones for you to consider. This article will explain why we chose these specific ones and give you our opinion on the TOP three reel mowers.

Best Mowers for Mowing Stripes

Reel Mowers

For the best striping, nothing beats a reel mower. If you get a good one, as reviewed here, and put the effort in, your lawn stripes will exceed your expectations.

With hundreds to choose from, we have selected the best ones for you to consider.

Rotary Mowers with Striping Kits

For good striping results using a rotary mower, make sure your blades are super sharp. You will also need to add some form of striping kit, commercial or improvised.

 The action of a rotary blade, usually clockwise, means that grass leaves on the right-half of the mower are predominantly being pushed backward, and the left is being pushed forwards. This is not a good way to get a striped effect.

To get a striped effect with a rotary mower, you will need to add a mechanism behind the mower to flatten (comb) the grass in the direction of motion. You may opt for a commercial kit that is a weighted roller the width of the mower (including wheels)

You may, if you’re handy, make one yourself with a PVC pipe filled with sand. Numerous YouTube videos will guide you through the process.  While on YouTube, please give our YouTube channel a like and follow.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Stripe Mower

When selecting a reel mower for yourself, there are six important factors to consider – and none of them is price.

Grass Type

As seen from the section above, there is a direct correlation between stripe quality and grass type.

Blade Quality and Count

Reel mowers make use of a rotating reel (or cylinder) fitted with multiple blades. The number of cutter blades required depends on the grass type (again), and the number of reel rotations per inch traveled forward.

Cutting Width and Height

The limits for a healthy lawn inform the suggested mowing height; regularly cutting lawns shorter than suggested is not advised.

The wider you can cut with a single pass, the less energy you need to cover the yard.

Roller Design

Reel mowers are fitted with rollers. The combination of mass and push-force helps flatten the grass, creating a better stripe effect.

Weight

The heavier a mower is, the better the stripe effect. How far and how long a grass blade leans into a direction is the product of time and force. How long (or often) it is pressed in that direction, and how much force (weight or mass).

Our Choice of the 9 Best Lawn Stripe Mowers

MowerBladesCut HeightCut-WidthRoller/sWeight lbs.
Allett Buckingham50.2 to 1.4203227
Swardsman Edwin 2.150.16 to 1.7518Front and Rear99
Allett Kensington 17B6 – 100.25 to 1.2518Front and Rear210
Swardsman Electra 5550.16 to 1.7521Front and Rear152
Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-Inch 7-Blade70.5 to 2.5161021.83
American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14 51 to 1.75148.522.5
American Lawn Mower Company 1204-1440.5 to 1.75148.520
Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade50.5 to 2.75181027
Honda 663020 21 in. GCV170Rotary1 to 321None92

1.     Allett Buckingham

This conventional mower series is built for the dedicated home gardener or semi-professional who maintains formal lawns, parks and gardens, cemeteries, and decorative grass.

Better stripe marking machines are used for Wimbledon Tennis Courts – see INFINICUT Brochure for interest’s sake. But for the serious gardeners, the Allett Buckingham is at the top end.

2.     Swardsman Edwin 2.1

Reel mowers with motors move on rollers rather than wheels. Because of the even weight distribution, the rollers are kinder on the lawn, do not leave wheel traces, and are responsible for the striped effect on the lawn.

The front roller flattens the grass blades, and the reel smoothly trims them against the bedknife, allowing them to rise anew. The rear differential roller constantly evens off small surface imperfections, eliminates scalping, and allows easy manipulation and turning in one area.

3.     Allett Kensington 17B

The Kensington 17B has a cutting width of 17″ (43cm) and is ideal for medium-large gardens. A 127cc Briggs and Stratton engine powers it, and it has micro-cutting height adjustment. This variant also has a geared differential and a two-section roller.

4.     Swardsman Electra 55

Electra 55 cm Standard. Battery-powered reel mower with a drive. This pre-configured model has an operating range of 22-inches. Extremely low operational costs compared to traditional petrol-powered mowers. Extremely quiet too.

The LiFePO4 battery mows 15 000 square feet with a single charge.

  • Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-Inch 7-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

The Earthwise 1715-16EW 16-inch 7-blade reel mower is ideal for denser lawns. This mower is ideal for Bentgrass, Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Seashore Paspalum. We suggest using a 4 or 5-blade reel mower for grasses like Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Crabgrass.

6.     American Lawn Mower Company 1304-14

Before using a reel mower, take the time to fully rake the yard and remove sticks and debris that may have accumulated. This will make the actual mowing easier. This mower is light, very easy to push, maneuvers well, and easy to put away – but still does a fine job on the lawn. Assembly is a breeze too.

7.     American Lawn Mower Company 1204-14 14-Inch 4-Blade Push Reel Lawn Mower

This 4-blade unit differs from the 1304 in blade count, weight and pricing. It can also cut down to half an inch, where the 1305 can only go down to 1-inch.

If your lawn is Tall Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, or Crabgrass, and smaller than 10 000 square feet, then this is a good buy.

For many reviewers mowing the lawn has changed from a dreaded task to a pleasure. They put their headphones on and treat the time as a workout – good for the body, good for health, good for the environment.

8.     Great States 815-18 18-Inch 5-Blade

As mentioned earlier, the blade count is relevant to the grass types. The Great States 815-18 is a lovely middle-of-the-road option.

The 18-inch width means that you cover more ground than any of the previous machines reviewed. It is also, according to reviews, the best 18-inch unit. Amazon recommends the product (Amazon’s Choice), something they do not do lightly.

The double rollers at the back will contribute to some striping effect. The rollers contribute to bending the blades, as does the 27-pounds this unit weighs in at.

9.     Honda 663020 21 in. GCV170

This lawnmower allows users to tailor the mower’s speed to their walking speed. The powerful engine is commercial-grade, which means it will last a long time. The user’s duty is made easier by the generous 22-inch blades.

For rotary lawnmowers, triping is done by attaching a striking kit.

Summary

Don’t be intimidated by stripes. It is a simple process of leaning grass leaves in alternate directions. Below is an easy-to-follow guide on getting the best lawn stripes.

Step 1: Get the right tools. A reel mower works best. Adding additional rolling to your mowing will improve the grass blade directional bias.

Step 2: Plan your pattern ­­– Begin with a simple grid design and progress to more sophisticated patterns such as checkerboards and diagonal effects later.

Step 3: Mow the lawn’s borders first, creating the frame for your design.

Step 4: Create your stripes – Begin creating your stripes with merely the mower. Turn the mower 180 degrees at the end of each strip, then mow the opposite way, being sure to overlap the previous strip just a little.

Step 5: Use a lawn roller to flatten the grass and emphasize the striped effect. Attach the lawn striper to your mower and go over your pattern in the same direction you mowed.

Step 6: Re-mow the border area – Finish by re-mowing the perimeter to give your lawn a polished appearance.

We trust this article will help you get better stripes on your lawn. We’re quite sure it will. If this article was beneficial and you want more ways to simplify gardening, there’s a sign-up form for our newsletter below. Please make use of it. Also, you may want to follow our helpful media channels. The links are at the bottom of the page.

Tony O'Neill

I am Tony O'Neill, A full-time firefighter, and professional gardener. I have spent most of my life gardening. From the age of 7 until the present day at 46. My goal is to use my love and knowledge of gardening to support you and to simplify the gardening process so you are more productive

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