Feeding your lawn before the winter protects and enhances your lawn’s health in the spring. There are some great local hardware stores with spreaders, fertilizers and programs for fall lawn care. Some thoughts to consider before you visit your local shops or browse online:

Treating your lawn begins with selecting the best blend for your needs. Examine the areas of concern. Pay attention to whether the area is sunny or shady; receives excessive moisture or is water starved; and finally, proximity to walkways and trees. There are specific blends to help all of these conditions.

It is a little late in the season to try to add seed, but adding some seed and soil to bare patches is advisable. My lawn is well established so I patch a few spots then feed the entire lawn with a winter fertilizer. Prepare the soil surface before spreading seed. Good soil contact is necessary for seed to take root. Loosening soil with a handrake will help bare patches and loosen thatch in healthier lawns.

If your lawn is extremely thin, you may consider adding just fertilizer this fall. Next spring consider renting a vertical mower (also known as a mechanical rake). These machines remove thatch, loosen the soil surface and ensure the seed makes solid contact with the soil. While vertical mowers work well, they are expensive, heavy and create a lot of cleanup. Homeowners should always either rent this type of machine or employ a professional lawn care company to apply the seed. 

By feeding in the fall, you should avoid impacting your water bill. The combination of warm evenings, short days and rainfall typically keep the ground moist. Provide a healthy start to this new grass growth by monitoring daily rainfall and changes in temperature.

Aerating a lawn with established grass growth offers many benefits heading into dormancy. Whether you rent an aerator or hire a landscape professional, your root system will improve with this process.