Outdoor Services Crew

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Stripe it up!

Everyone has seen the stripes on golf courses, baseball fields and other locations. Believe it or not I have been asked many times, "How do they do that?" Some believe that it is something extremely unique; however, the true trick is the large mowers used in the Turfgrass industry that have rollers on the back of each deck. As you mow the lawn it is first cut by the blades and then it is rolled. This rolling is actually what makes the stripes you see. If you think of a blade of grass there is a slight reflective ability of the grass blade itself and the mower lays the turf slightly to the side which allows sunlight to reflect off of it.

In the picture above you can see what appears to be light and dark stripes. The light stripes are actually the turf being layed slighty in a direction directly away from you in this view. Therefore the sun is able to refect off the blades of grass themselves. As you are looking at the dark stripes what you are actually seeing is the turf has been layed every so slightly directly pointing at you. Because of this orientation, the sun would be shining on the tips of the turf blades and there is not enough surface area to reflect enough light to make it look bright.

From an agronomic perspective there are no benefits to the Turfgrass by having these stripes; they are purely asthetic. When you are on campus you will regualarly see stripes in the lawns but they are not as strong as these pictures show. When we are approaching spring graduation or fall move in we make it a point to have certain mowing patterns to stay on for a couple of weeks.  Believe it or not we have reasons for choosing these special pattern directions. One facter is direction of travel. If you know a lot of people are going to be coming from a certain direction, you would want to have the stripes pointing in that direction to give the full affect. The other factor to consider is position of the sun at the time of the given event. To get the full affect you will want the sun shining in the direction of the stripes; this will give the best light, dark contrast. As the sun moves across the sky you will not get the same affect because the light will be coming from the side.

So next time you are watching tv and you see these stripes, remember that there is actually someone that thinks about the pattern of the stripes and the directions they run to provide that final touch to a well manicured lawn.