Four Tips for Fall Lawn Preparation

Everyone always thinks of the springtime as the best time to work outside. While the spring boasts lengthening daylight hours and invigorating fresh breezes, the fall actually provides an ideal time to enhance the soil and provide excellent conditions that will carry over into the following year. These four simple tips mostly focus on the lawn.

Allow Grass to Grow Longer

Letting the grass grow longer protects the grass from frost and makes it more resilient to lawn fungus and diseases. As you near the end of fall, raise the height of your mower by a notch or two. Otherwise you leave the lawn open to invasion by voles, mice and other critters.

Aerate the Soil and Add a Top Dress of Compost

Aerating the soil allows for water drainage and prevents it from becoming waterlogged from snow. Lawns need oxygen almost as much as they need water. After aerating (or even if you don’t aerate), topdress the turf surface with a 1/4″-1/2″ layer of compost. The compost will settle into the soil, adding nutrition and structure that will serve the grass roots well the following season.

Seed Your Lawn

Seeding your lawn encourages the growth of turf roots during fall and winter. Splurge on high-quality seed products to ensure the lawn will be able to stand up to drought, disease and pests.

Put Your Fall Leaves to Work

Instead of bagging and dragging fall leaves to the curb, use a small patch of your lawn to create a compost pile with leaves. If you have existing compost soil, mix it in with the leaves and turn all the materials well with a pitchfork. Alternatively, you can place leaves onto the top of the garden between plants and on top of bare soil as a natural layer of mulch that will moderate soil temperatures. Also remember that you can always mulch the leaves into the lawn to add organic matter to the soil. By doing this it will save you time and money from raking and bagging. You are simply recycling a natural resource and enriching your soil for free!


24 replies
  1. DoloresB
    DoloresB says:

    It’s important to work on your lawn to prepare it for winter. It’s bad to not rake your leaves, because it makes it really hard on the grass in spring time. You can use the leaves to make a compost pile, but you shouldn’t leave them all on the grass for when the snow comes. The grass will have a hard time if you do that.

    • Harvest Power
      Harvest Power says:

      Agree! Another option someone suggested was to go over the leaves with the lawnmower to chop them up into small bits that can break down more quickly. Thanks for the note!

  2. Sam Fisher
    Sam Fisher says:

    Whether you have real grass or fake grass, you still have to take care of it. Depending on what you have, the procedures will be different. For real grass, I would for sure allow it go grow longer. This makes it more resilient from frost and other problems. Compost is a great way to keep your yard healthy and I would highly recommend it if you haven’t already.

  3. Jennifer Andrews
    Jennifer Andrews says:

    I’m trying to find ways to maintain my landscaping as much as possible. I knew about aerating my lawn but I didn’t think to let it grow longer to keep mice and other pests out. I also didn’t think to seed my lawn, so thank you for the great tips. Hopefully this means less work come spring time!

  4. Aaron Kriegerson
    Aaron Kriegerson says:

    Thanks for your tips about how to prepare your yard and landscape during the fall. I grew up in the Northwest, and we received a substantial amount of rain each winter. You had to prepare your yard so that you would get substantial runoff or pooling that could kill your plants or grass. We had our first snow today, but maybe it will warm up and I can let the grass grow a little bit longer before I cut it for the winter.

  5. Bennett Fischer
    Bennett Fischer says:

    I love taking care of my yard, but for some reason, during the Fall and Winter seasons I have a hard time making my lawn stay healthy. This being said, I really appreciate you giving me some insight on things I can do to make my lawn stay green and healthy during these colder months. I’ll be sure to follow your insight and see how it all helps. Thanks a ton for this.

    • Harvest Power
      Harvest Power says:

      You’re welcome, Bennett. One thing to consider is that even if the lawn doesn’t look great in the fall and winter, a lot can be happening underneath the surface. For example, when we spread a top dress of compost over our lawn in the fall, it looks a little, shall we say unkempt, with the splotches of dirt across the surface… but that moment is more than made up for come spring when the roots are super happy and healthy, and the turf comes in strong, lush and green. Good luck!

  6. Andy Harrison
    Andy Harrison says:

    Even though we are past fall, I’ll be sure to keep these tips in mind for when it comes around this year! Of the four things you listed, I’ll probably see about leaving the grass longer. There were a few spots where my grass died on me, most likely because I cut it too short. Hopefully come this winter, I won’t make the same mistake!

  7. Sarah Anderson
    Sarah Anderson says:

    I didn’t know you should let your grass grow longer than normal to protect it from frost. I’m glad my new lawn didn’t die over the winter because I didn’t know about this. In the future, I should do this so I don’t have to completely redo the landscape of my yard.

  8. Nash Rich
    Nash Rich says:

    I didn’t know there was such thing as seeding your lawn, besides when you plant it. I also agree that keeping your leaves as compost is a good idea. We always through ours in the garden so it can help with the next year. Thanks for the tips!

  9. Drew
    Drew says:

    I usually just go over my leaves with a lawnmower. It seems to be the easiest and most effective way to get your yard ready. Great advice here!

  10. Drew
    Drew says:

    Great advice to seed your lawn. It’s important to do everything you can to keep it healthy. Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. Derek Mcdoogle
    Derek Mcdoogle says:

    My wife and I have really been trying to take care of our lawn because it hasn’t been doing so well through the summer. You stated that aerating the soil allows for water drainage and prevents it from becoming waterlogged from snow. Do most landscaping companies offer this services every year and how often does it need to be done?

    • Meredith Sorensen
      Meredith Sorensen says:

      Yes, Derek, most landscaping companies will offer aeration. The frequency really depends on your soil density. Try using the “screwdriver test”: you try to push a screwdriver into your soil. If it smooshes in easily, your soil probably doesn’t need aeration; if it is difficult to push in, your soil could probably use some aeration.

  12. Alexandria Martinez
    Alexandria Martinez says:

    In the past couple of months, my fiance and I moved into a new home. We want to make sure that we keep the lawn safe by hiring a landscape service to keep it and give us tips. It is nice to know that aerating the top dress soil will help as well.

  13. Tree Service Dayton
    Tree Service Dayton says:

    I have always been told to make your last grass cutting a bit shorter than normal. The advice above is just the opposite. However, it does make sense so will give it a try next fall.

  14. Millie Hue
    Millie Hue says:

    I never took into account the fact that the longer the grass is the safer it is to keep them from getting frosted. With that in mind, I guess I would have to seek the help of the experts to make this happen to our lawn before the winter comes. There are some parts of our lawn that are not growing enough grass which may be due to too much foot traffic. They can help us grow them well.

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