It’s not too late for fall aeration, dormant seeding and topdressing with compost

October 10, 2019
Dave Wyman

Prepare for spring with fall aeration, dormant grass seed planting and topdressing with compost

We recently talked about the importance of yearly aeration, overseeding and topdressing with compost. Ideally, overseeding treatments should be completed by the middle of September. This allows for seed germination and establishment. Although there will most likely be a return to warmer temperatures, we are in a transition period with cooler overnight temps and lower daytime temps. With surrounding states already receiving snowfall and freezing temperatures, it won’t be long before we will be moving towards winter conditions ourselves. What does this mean for your lawn? If you haven’t scheduled your fall maintenance program with us yet, you should do so sooner rather than later.  


Snow and dormant seeding work together

The best time to seed is between August 15th and September 15th.” This isn’t a hard rule, but more of a suggested time-frame. Be aware that “each week of delay translates into 2-4 additional weeks required for the grass to mature.” With October comes increased chances that the ground may freeze within the next couple of weeks, potentially stunting turf-grass just as it is beginning to grow. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that you are out of luck. We just need to switch to a method known as “dormant seeding.”

Start with Aeration

Aeration Machine

Aeration is still the first step in the dormant seed process. With all the recent rain, we will work with you to schedule your aeration session during the optimum time. Recently watered soil allows for maximum depth in the holes left behind from the aerating machine.  Another reason aeration is good during the fall months, when there is increased rainfall leading to winter snow cover, is because aerating also helps with runoff and puddling problems. Since aeration helps reduce soil compaction it will allow water to drain more easily into the ground. Less compaction in your lawn will keep puddles from forming as easily as they once did. It will also reduce the amount of water runoff. When water can penetrate the ground more efficiently the rain will be absorbed instead of overflowing.

Dormant Grass Seed Planting

Dormant Seeding works well in late fall

Just like the early fall process, once the ground has been thoroughly aerated, we will treat the space with seed. Unlike a treatment in August or September, we apply a dormant seed once the ground temperature has cooled to the point that the seed won’t germinate until the next spring.  This “idea that the seed will remain ‘dormant’ due to the cold soil conditions but begin to germinate as soon as the soils starts to warm in the spring” is beneficial in a couple of different ways. First, it “avoids having to prepare the soil when it is still wet and cold in the spring.” The result is that you will see growth earlier in the season.

Second, it takes the guesswork out of when it is the right time to seed in the spring. Often, the sporadic, warmer temperatures in March, April and May can be met with evenings dipping back below freezing. This makes it hard to know when it is the right time to put seed down in the spring, since a cold snap could kill grass that is just starting to grow. When dormant seeds are placed in the fall and allowed to sit below the surface over the winter, the worry over application timing is eliminated. Mother nature will signal the seed when it is the best time to begin growing. 

With dormant seeding, you will need to apply a special pre-emergent in the spring. This pre-emergent allows the seed to grow while stopping crabgrass and other weed seeds from growing. Standard pre-emergent stops ALL seeds from growing, including any grass seed that you put down over the winter – basically canceling your efforts the past fall. Afraid you will forget by spring? Don’t worry. When you have Paradise Lawns apply a dormant seed treatment in late fall/early winter, we will automatically switch to the special pre-emergent formula when spring arrives, if you are enrolled in one of our lawn care programs. Visualize how you will be able to pat yourself on the back when you see seeds beginning to sprout all because you proactively scheduled dormant seeding this fall.  

Topdressing with Compost

Compost provides nutrients for your lawn


Topdressing with compost is like the cherry on top of the sundae. It is adding an extra special treatment on top to help the seed have a nutrient-rich environment to grow once it is ready to sprout. The fact that you are applying dormant seed doesn’t change the benefits of topdressing with compost. Regardless of new seed application, topdressing reduces lawn stresses, helps keep thatch under control, and acts as a long-term natural fertilizer. In addition to helping the dormant grass seeds placed in the fall, topdressing with compost will benefit your already established lawn and help it to return healthier in the spring.  When mature grass and new seeds have a rich environment in which to grow, they can flourish. As a result, there will be a reduction in surface cracks and spaces where weeds and thatch normally like to inhabit.   

Don’t delay – Schedule today

Your lawn can look great by spring

There you have it! Now that we are in the later half of fall, you can relax knowing that it is not too late to help your lawn be the healthiest and thickest lawn on the block next spring. Call Dave today at 402-612-1527 or click here to schedule your aeration, dormant seeding and topdressing with compost before winter arrives. Your lawn will thank you and you can rest all winter knowing it has been taken care of and that the dormant seed will sprout once the warm weather returns.

Leave a Comment



  1. It's beginning to look a lot like time for exterior holiday lighting. - Paradise Lawns - […] Have you already set up your exterior holiday lighting session? Great! Give Dave a call anyway at 402-612-1527 to…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *