Late fall is the best time to prepare your lawn for the coming of winter and at the same time give it a great boost for next spring. Cool season grasses such as Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Fescue, Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, Buffalograss and Creeping Bentgrass can all use a little fall prep.

Clean off any debris

Rake leaves and remove any other debris that can block sunlight and limit photosynthesis.

Get a soil test

Assessing your soil health in the fall gives you time to correct nutrient deficiencies and apply the appropriate fertilizer.


Thatch is an accumulation of undecayed and decaying plant matter at the soil surface that can deny grass roots the air, water, and nutrients they need to thrive. Dethatching will Increase organic matter and stimulate the soil microbes that consume thatch.


Early to mid fall is usually a good time to aerate your lawn. The ground is usually soft enough in the fall for removing plugs. Aerating when the ground is too soft from rain (such as in the spring aeration) can sometimes result in holes that close-up too quickly for nutrients, water, air and fertilizer to reach the root zone. Although aeration is recommended in spring or fall, the latter may be preferred depending on the climate in your area.


For the final mowing of the season, cut cool-season grasses to 2.5 inches.


Lawns composed of cool season grasses can also profit from overseeding to fix bare patches. Because aeration creates additional space in the soil and reduces compaction, it is a good idea to overseed after aerating. Fall is the best time for overseeding because there is plenty of rain to help the new seed come in with little effort and without spring weeds.


Fall is the number one time to fertilize cool season species so the plants can develop a strong reserve of carbohydrates in their roots. This will aid in spring green-up. Depending on your location, a late fall follow-up application may be needed as well. Apply 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Or purchase a product that has a low middle number for NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium).


Fall lawn care for cool season grasses includes ensuring that your lawn receives enough water to carry it through the winter. Don't think you can totally forget about watering your lawn during autumn's dry spells.

The Lawn Institute
Article: Preparing Your Lawn for Fall - Cool Season Grasses