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Stripes are clearly visible in this shot from a September River Bandits game at Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport. Bandits shortstop Trey Dawson made a catch and an out against the Peoria Chiefs, and the Bandits won 2-1 on a walk-off single in the ninth inning.

Professional baseball is done for the year, but you likely remember the crazy designs on the fields and may be wondering how they are made.

The light and dark green shadings on turf are the result of bending grass in different directions during the mowing process, according to the Oct. 22  Sustainable, Secure Food blog by Adam Thoms, of Iowa State University, Ames.

“Mowers that make the best mowing pattern will have a solid roller that helps bend the grass," he writes. "Laying turfgrass in different directions determines how the light will reflect off of it. Turfgrass blades lying toward you look dark. Those lying away from you look lighter in color,” Thoms explains.

The home lawn enthusiast may be surprised to find the variety of equipment available to professional turf teams:

• A solid roller will help bend the grass in broad designs.

• Brooms can create intricate designs.

• Blasts of water can lay the grass down for detail.

• Streams of air, controlled by software, can create patterns in both directions at once.

For the baseball crews, there are additional practical matters to consider, such as clear foul lines.

“The mowing pattern of cool-season turfgrasses should always be parallel to the lines painted on the field to avoid the lines appearing wavy,” Thoms writes. “Some mowers now have global positioning systems (GPS) on them to help with creating these mowing patterns and to make sure the lines they are producing are straight.”

To read the complete blog, visit Sustainable, Secure Food at

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