Make Your Yard Look Like Wrigley Field

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 25, 2009 · 17 comments

in DIY Home Maintenance, Manly Skills, Outdoors


Image by Rusty Z3

One of the prettiest sites to behold is the lush, green, manicured grass of a professional baseball field. It’s amazing to see how everyday grass can be turned into a canvas of geometrical lines and shapes. Many a man has lusted after creating the same “striped” look in their own yard. In today’s post, we’ll show you how to turn the dream of making your yard into a Wrigley Field look-a-like a reality.

It’s the direction, stupid

Many people think sports stadiums achieve the striped or checkerboard look by cutting the grass at different heights or using varying types of grass. The striped look is actually created when light reflects off blades of grass which have been bent in different directions. The direction the blade is bent will determine whether you have a dark or light stripe. Blades bent away from you appear lighter as light is reflected off the entire length of the blade; blades bent towards you look darker since the light is only bouncing off the tip.

Bending Your Grass

Normal mowing will only bend grass blades to a certain degree. If you want that striped look, you need to really bend those blades. Here are a few tips to make sure you get the best bend and thus the best looking stripe.

Rollers, baby. Grounds keeping professionals usually attach a roller to the back of a mower called a “striper.” The old fashioned reel mowers usually have rollers attached to them already. If you have a gas powered rotary mower, you can buy a roller attachment at most garden care centers. However, if you don’t want to fork over the money to buy a roller, you can jerry-rig your current push mower to create more bend in your grass.

  • Duct tape some dumbbells to the rubber tail on the back of the lawn mower. That little strip is supposed to bend the grass, but without any weight, it doesn’t do a very good job. By duct taping some dumbbells to it, you’ll create enough weight to really bend your grass. Here’s how to do it.
  • Attach a welcome mat to the back of your mower. Just get some chain, and attach it near the bottom of the mower. Hook the chain through some holes on the mat. It has to be a fairly heavy mat to get the job done.
  • Make your own roller. You can easily make your own roller with some PVC pipe, sand, and brackets. Here’s how to do it.

Cut the grass long. Longer grass bends more, so the longer you can cut it, the better stripe you’ll get.

Grass types. Different types of grass bend differently. Northern grasses tend to bend better than southern breeds. Whatever type of grass it is, it needs to be healthy, lush, and green. Patchy, mangy grass will never look like Wrigley Field no matter how many patterns you cut into it.

Be precise. You want your lines to be as straight as possible. If you make one of the lines crooked, then all the other lines are going to be off as well. Also, when you are finished with a row and turn to make the adjacent one, carefully line up the wheels with the previous track.

The Patterns

There are three typical patterns you’ll see at baseball fields: the basic stripe, the checkerboard, and the diagonal. Here’s how to create all three.

The Basic Stripe


Image by lestaret

1. Mow the perimeter around your yard. This area will be where you make turns. If you can use the sidewalk or driveway to make turns, all the better.

2 Mow in opposite directions. Pick a direction, either north/south or east/west, and alternate directions.

3. Go over the perimeter once more. This will help clean up any irregularities created near the edges as you made turns.

The Checkerboard

1. Mow the perimeter.

2. Make your rows. Start off by mowing in opposing directions in a north/south or east/west direction as you did in the basic stripe. Do this throughout your entire lawn.

3. Travel in the opposite direction of the original mowing pattern. If you went north/south first, start mowing in an east/west direction, or vice versa.

4. Go over the perimeter once more.

The Diagonal Checkered Stripe

The diagonal checkered stripe is created the same way as you created the checkerboard pattern. Just go in diagonal directions.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Robert May 25, 2009 at 9:18 am

There are a few things to keep in mind:

Depending on where you live, you may have different types of grass due to different temp. They don’t all cut the same.

Depending on where you live, shorter grass may be *much* easier to keep green as longer blades tend to require more water. If you in an area where drought restrictions are common… this is important as burnt grass looks worse than no lines.

If your property is small or obstructed by too many trees, planets, etc. it may not be worth trying for a checkerboard or any pattern… it just looks messy from the street. In this case shorter grass which doesn’t leave as much of a visible cut marking looks neater.

2 Brett May 25, 2009 at 9:21 am

Thanks for those great added tips, Robert

3 rrpf May 25, 2009 at 11:01 am

at the point where this seems like my idea of a good time, I hope that I will have the presence of mind to step in front of a bus.

4 Jedd May 25, 2009 at 5:32 pm

In the Yankees game today in Texas, I saw the grounds crew mowed a giant star into the infield. Awesome!

5 P May 26, 2009 at 6:59 am

Do your country a favor and get rid of your lawn. Global warming will come down to battles over lawns. The largest consumer/waste of water is your lawn. Gas powered mowers cause air and noise pollution. Pesticides and fertilizers are the biggest polluters of our watersheds. In the west the water battles wage on and it will get worse and worse with the population growth out here.

6 Enrique S May 26, 2009 at 8:20 am

I used to take the time to do this before we had kids. I even mowed “Happy Birthday” into the back lawn for my wife. I know, AWWWW. Sorry, didn’t mean to make you sick. Now I just concentrate on patching the areas that get ripped up from my kids horsing around.

7 gonz May 26, 2009 at 10:43 am

I’m a Reds fan. Why in the Hell would I want to have my yard look like Wrigley Field?


8 Mike May 27, 2009 at 4:09 am

A few things are missing:

1. Lay some loud, obnoxious frat boys from Schaumburg with on the perimeter.
2. Place very expensive, overpriced athletes in the middle of the yard.
3. Televise nationally all the inevitable futility that occurs for generations.

NOW your yard will look like Wrigley Field!

9 Shaun May 27, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Who’re you calling stupid?

10 Cris June 18, 2009 at 4:06 am

Those stripes look cool! I imagine my lawn looking just like that. I’ll do it right away.

11 bc July 16, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Hey P, you’re wrong about the global warming thing (at least in the way you presented it). Grass is a natural filter, oxygen producer, and air conditioner.

You’re perpetuating myths and making generalizations. There are irresponsible homeowners who don’t know the proper way to take care of a lawn, but when done correctly in the right locations, grass is a great benefit to the environment.

12 J. Skinner October 5, 2009 at 11:16 pm

It is really quite simple. Northern grass is usually a thinner longer grass. like those used on professional sports fields. Then it is simply going one direction, turning around in a U-Turn, aka zero turning motion, and simply come straight back, the opposite direction of the way you went.

13 ryan May 24, 2010 at 9:05 pm

for all you tree huggers go suck a fat one taking care of grass isnt gonna destroy the planet go worry about that oil spill in the gulf

14 Tyler June 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm

I Think, I am going to put a American flag in my front lawn this fourth of July. Anyone have any ideas on how to do the stars. Or just one star, My lawn’s not the right size for all 50.

15 allen May 23, 2013 at 11:20 am

the next question is, how can i do this?

16 Nbot June 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Longer grass is NOT harder to keep green in the summer. In fact, keeping your grass longer helps the root structure, as well as provide additional shade to keep moisture in the soil. Cutting your grass super short in the spring/fall can make sense, but not the dead of the summer. Google around, or see this article:

Thanks for the tip on the roller, I never could figure out the line creation, that makes complete sense. The step about the grid could be a little better described though, do you also mow the entire yard a 2nd time in the opposite direction?

17 MikeCheck July 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

@ allen,

I know how they do that, I know a groundskeeper who works for the braves. Obviously the straight lines on the sides, and the checkerboards in the outfield are self explanitory, and as for the building, he says they use a big stencil thingy on the ground, and then they use the old small push blade mowers they used in the 50-60′s before modern gas mowers, and they have rollers on the back of them. They have someone up in the stands with a walkie watching in case they mess up and giving direction, and if they do, and its a serious mistake, then they have to flatten the grass all one way and start all over. But he says they are professionals and know what they are doing and it’s easy with a stencil as a guidline. ^^

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