Cell plating, the spreading out of a liquid suspension of cells on a surface followed by colony growth, is a common laboratory procedure in microbiology. Despite this, the exact impact of its parameters on colony growth has not been extensively studied. A common protocol involves the shaking of glass beads within a Petri dish containing solid growth media. We investigated the effects of multiple parameters in this protocol: the number of beads, the shape of movement, and the number of movements. Standard suspensions of Escherichia coli were spread while varying these parameters to assess their impact on colony growth. Results were assessed by a variety of metrics: the number of colonies, the mean distance between closest colonies, and the variability and uniformity of their spatial distribution. Finally, we devised a mathematical model of shifting billiard to explain the heterogeneities in the observed spatial patterns. Exploring the parameters that affect the most fundamental techniques in microbiology allows us to better understand their function, giving us the ability to precisely control their outputs for our exact needs.