Autumn is great time to prepare your lawn for winter, spring

Published Oct 14, 2018 at 9:00am

As the garden season winds down, there are things you should do to maintain your lawn. A little maintenance now will insure that your lawn is ready for winter as well as next spring.


Keep your grass 2 to 2-1/2 inches tall throughout the fall.

If the grass is left too tall, you invite disease issues such as snow mold. If you cut too short, the grass cannot make and store nutrients for growth in the spring.

Raking and Recycling Leaves

It’s a good idea to rake excess amounts of leaves and other organic debris to help maintain water quality.

Freezing and thawing during the winter causes excess organic debris such as leaves to release forms of phosphate and nitrates.

If these chemicals run off frozen ground during spring thaws or rain, they can end up in surface water.

Be sure to keep grass clippings, leaf litter and other organic material off driveways, sidewalks and streets; this will also protect surface water runoff.

Leaves can be recycled by composting them. You can also break up the fallen leaves on your lawn by making several passes over them with a power mower.

This way, they are chopped into a thin layer of fine enough material to stay right on the lawn without causing damage, while at the same time providing nutrients for the grass.


Lawn grass, unlike other plants, continues to grow throughout autumn, needing adequate moisture. You can water until the ground begins to freeze.


Fall is the best time to feed your lawn. You will see lawn fertilizer products this time of the year labeled as “winterizers”. You can add fertilizer through early November. Lawns fertilized now will green up faster in the spring.

If this is your first time with a lawn fertilizer, consider a soil test first. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County will be happy to help you with this.

Weed Control

Fall is a good time to control broadleaf weeds such as clover or creeping charlie. This is also a good time for sedge control.

Small numbers of weeds can be pulled out by hand. You can also consider spot-spraying with an herbicide or a broadcast herbicide product that is labeled for fall application and for the weeds you are trying to control.

Be sure to read the product label in its entirety before applying and follow all label directions. Remember that herbicides should only be used over your entire lawn when there is a weed infestation.

Keep your lawn healthy instead; a healthy lawn will naturally crowd out weeds and prevent them from spreading.


Fall is the best time to reseed a lawn. Complete this task before the cold weather sets in.

Take care of your lawn now and it will reward you in the spring. Cornell University offers many helpful lawn care tools for the homeowner. Visit Cornell’s Turf grass Program website at for more information.

Also be sure to visit the Oneida County Cornell Cooperative Extension website for home and garden information.

Our Horticulture Hotline is open Wednesdays and Thursdays 9 a.m.-noon at 315-736-3394,
ext. 127.