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A Cut Above

August 25, 2009

Star & Stripes Pattern in the Main Fountain Garden, from July 4, 2009Star & Stripes Pattern in the Main Fountain Garden, from July 4, 2009.

Prior to holidays or large events at Longwood, our groundskeepers work to create unusual works of landscape art—patterns in the turfgrass! These patterns are created with Exmark Zero turn mowers, which have a striping kit attached behind the mowing deck. The striping kit consists of a metal roller that lays the turfgrass down in a uniform way and creates the light and dark color stripe appearance. A dark stripe appears when the mower is cutting toward the viewing eye, and the light pattern appears when the mower is cutting away from the viewing eye. The same effect can be made by a homeowner with a regular push mower, but the striping look will not be as strong without a roller attached. Homeowners can create a diamond pattern by mowing diagonally one week, and then mowing diagonally in the opposite direction the following week. This simple technique will create a diamond or an "X" pattern in the turfgrass. Adventurous home gardeners can try a more complex design. Use graph paper to plan your pattern before you begin mowing. All of these effects are temporary. As the turfgrass grows it will begin to stand straight up again.