Turfgrass appearance is enhanced by the mowing pattern. Careful attention should be given to the mowing pattern that will be used at any turfgrass area, because just as a good mowing pattern improves the appearance of the turf area, a poorly-chosen mowing pattern can detract from the appearance of the grass and may also waste time and money. Some mowing patterns are more efficient and can save time to mow a given area. But it is not just the mowing pattern that should be considered; having sharp mower blades is also critical in creating mowing patterns that last (and not inconsequentially, sharp mower blades are essential in maintaining healthy turfgrass plants).
In a recent study at the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI), the striping effect produced when cutting the grass was found to be more pronounced when using a sharpened mower using no contact between the reel blade and the bedknife. The study was commissioned by Bernhard & Company, who manufacture sharpening equipment for mowers. Mowing is perhaps the most important maintenance activity for any turfgrass area, and mowing is essentially what separates turfgrass from forage grass.
The photo above (click the photo or here for a larger image) shows the damage that can occur when turfgrass is mowed with a maladjusted mower. This otherwise healthy sward of Zoysia matrella now has a white appearance because the leaf blades are all shredded. In addition to changing the color of the grass, making it less green, damaging the grass with a mower also puts a tremendous amount of stress onto the turfgrass plant, and may cause increased disease incidence and lack of vigor and a general decline in turfgrass performance. So, if we are to have beautiful stripes on the grass, or are to create any type of mowing pattern, whether it be complex or simple, the starting point is to cut with sharp mower blades.