3 Fall Lawn Care Tips You Should Do Before It's Too Late

For those of us living in cooler climates, lawn mowing season is nearly over.

There are a few tricks you can do in the Fall, however, that will improve the appearance of your lawn come Spring.

Is this how you want your lawn to look?
1.  Lawn Aeration

August and September can be very dry, leaving your lawn brown and your soil tightly compacted.  Aerating the soil pokes holes into your lawn, helping air, water, and nutrients to reach grass roots.  This makes the roots stronger and causes them to plunge deeper, not only enabling them to withstand longer periods without rain, but making your lawn thicker and more robust.

If you are enrolled in a lawn care service program, a fall aeration may be included in your plan.  If it's not, call to check on pricing.

In addition to fall aeration, many companies also offer slice seeding where grass seed is dropped into the furrows created by the slicer, placing it in direct contact with soil instead of laying on top of the ground.

Aerating might leave plugs on your lawn that look like doggie doo, but it's temporary.
You can also aerate the lawn yourself by renting at aerator from a home improvement retailer, such as Home Depot.  Typically, a 4-hour minimum is required, which costs around $69, or you can keep it for the day for $98.  If you have the time and don't mind the work, this may be the cheaper route.

2.  Seeding

If your lawn has more bare spots than a balding man's head, you may need to haul in top soil to spread over the dead areas, or at least break up the dirt, before proceeding to seed, fertilize, and cover it with seeding straw.

Topsoil isn't very expensive.  Two cubic yards and home delivery costs just over $100.  Lay a big tarp in your driveway, and the delivery man will dump it on the mark, sparing your driveway the extra grunge.  Most companies will not move the topsoil to specific areas of your lawn, unless they are also doing the maintenance for you.  Drivers are required to deposit topsoil onto a hard surface.

What materials will you need to seed your own lawn?
  • wheel barrow
  • shovel
  • rake
  • tarp
  • water hose/sprinkler
  • grass seed
  • seeding straw
  • fertilizer
  • gloves
  • seed spreader
Haul the topsoil to the bare areas, dump, and spread it, leveling it with your rake.  Repeat until all the soil has been used.

Next, use a seed spreader to evenly deposit the seed.  Use your rake to make sure the seed mixes well with the soil.

What type of seed should you use?

In the fall, regardless of how much sun or shade it will receive, you can't go wrong with tall fescue.

Sprinkle a small amount of starter fertilizer for new grass over the seeded areas before covering them with seeding straw.  Seeding straw that covers 500 square feet costs around $13.  Most seeding straw contains tack, which helps it stick to the areas where you want it instead of blowing away.  It also sticks to you too, so be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the gummy residue.

Last, you must water, water, and water the seed. When you are done, water some more.  If you have our luck, a drought will hit to coincide with your seed sowing.  Be sure to water by hand any area not reached by the sprinkler.  During dry spells, water two or three times each day.  Within two weeks, you should see grass growing.

If you have city water, this can get expensive!


How long does this job take if doing it yourself?

Depending on your pace, it can take 1-1/2 hours per cubic foot of topsoil to complete all the steps.

Late August to mid-September is the ideal time to seed here in Ohio, so if you missed it, try again in the Spring.  Just be sure to avoid seeding after pre-emergent has been applied to your lawn or it will kill the grass, unless you cover the pre-emergent with one-inch of fresh soil.

Click here to learn the optimum time to seed in your state and the best grass seed to use.

3.  Plant Flower Bulbs

Fall is the time to plant flower bulbs that will be the first bursts of color you see in early Spring when everything is still drab.

What are your bulb options?
  • daffodils
  • tulips
  • hyacinths
  • crocuses
There are more, but these four are the most popular.

Mapping out where your bulbs should go takes some planning.  Check the growth height so you can be sure tall blooms will be in the back and shorter blooms in the front. 

Decide if you want a color scheme or a random pattern.


To make sure something is always blooming, select bulbs with different bloom times.  As one flower fades, another will take its place so color is always dotting your beds.

Flower bulbs are not equal in quality.  Small bulbs produce smaller and fewer flowers.  Large bulbs produce bigger flowers and more of them.  Reputable garden centers typically have higher quality bulbs than Walmart and other grocery stores who carry them.  

Never buy a bulb mix thinking it's more efficient and a better deal!  Your spring blooms will be different heights and varieties and look like a sickly hodgepodge!


Squirrel Tip:  

Many spring bulbs are super tasty to squirrels and other rodents, resulting in lopped off blooms.  Plant daffodil bulbs near your other bulbs.  They are poisonous, and squirrels avoid them--and hopefully your other blooms too!

Early Maintenance Pays Off In The Spring

You might not see immediate results after doing all this work, but come Spring, you'll be glad the hard work's done.



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