Bluegrass Mowing, Aeration and Dethatching
General Recommendation on bluegrass dethatching – Thatch is the presence of dead leaves and stems that build up on the surface of the soil. If there is more then 1/2” of thatch present, you should dethatch. If possible, use a power detatcher that cuts and lifts the thatch. Use a power rake if possible. The best time to dethatch bluegrass is in the spring or fall.
A bluegrass lawn should be core aerated once a year. Aeration opens up the soil to allow water and nutrients to get into where the root system is. It also encourages root growth and is a great practice in almost any type of lawn. Aerating is also a great time to fertilize and lime your lawn as it allows these additions to get in to the root system where they can work best.
It is a good idea to use a core or plug aerator as pictured at right. This model is a pull behind type. Power core/plug aerators can be rented as well. These types of aerators will pull plugs from the soil. Subsequently giving the lawn bed room to expand.
Fescue can be mowed to various heights, 2-2½ inches being the recommended range. I prefer two inches as it (in my opinion) a clean looking cut and avoids drawing too much water out of the root system (as a taller cut would) during dry periods.
Authors Note – I generally dislike dethatching for the simple reason that it has a tendency to damage turf, this is especially true for grasses that spread via runners. My preference is to aerate as aerating breaks up the thatch and helps it along in the decomposition process.