Tall Fescue Mowing Aeration and Dethatching
Tall Fescue dethtatching, although somewhat disruptive to a lawn, can be beneficial to tall fescues. A buildup of thatch can prevent water and nutrients for reaching the soil. As a general recommendation, you should dethatch If there is more then 1/2” of thatch present (Thatch is the presence of dead leaves and stems that build up on the surface of the soil). Dethatching is best done with a power rake in the spring fall. Alternatively, you can also dethatch tall fescue lawns with a pull behind rake. Tall fescue lawns are tolerant of this type of dethatching since there are no rhizomes that spread along the soil.
Authors Note – I generally dislike thatching for the simple reason that it has a tendency to damage turf, this is especially true for grasses that spread via rhizomes. My preference is to aerate as aerating breaks up the thatch and helps it along in the decomposition process.
Tall Fescue Lawns can be mowed to various heights, 2-3 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.
It is recommended that the lawn 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.