As grass grows dormant in the fall, growth slows and the blades no longer appear as vigorous and green. But this is no time to let care of your lawn go dormant as well. Spending a little extra time in the fall preparing your grass for the cold months ahead will ensure a beautiful, healthier lawn in the spring. Fall is the best time to feed the lawn, defeat weeds and repair any damage from the ravages of summer.
Apply a general-purpose lawn fertilizer in early fall. Horticulturalists at the University of Illinois recommend looking for a fertilizer that contains slow-release or controlled release nitrogen. Sulfur-coated urea, ureaform and milorganite are ingredients found in slow-release fertilizers.
Apply herbicide in early fall to control broad-leaf weeds such as clover and dandelion.
Dethatch any areas of lawn where thatch is a problem with a mechanical dethatcher, also known as a vertical mower. Top-dress with a quarter-inch of compost or soil, which will help to further break down the thatch.
Aerate the lawn to prevent further growth of thatch with a machine that removes plugs from the soil--a process known as core aeration.
Reseed or resod any bare areas of lawn. Till the soil to a depth of 6 inches and mix in compost or organic matter. Broadcast grass seed or lay sod and water. Keep seed and sod moist by watering daily until the seed sprouts or you see new growth on sod. After that, water at a rate of 1 inch a week.
Apply a winterizer fertilizer in late October or early November. Winterizer fertilizers have higher levels of nitrogen and potassium and lower levels of phosphorous than warm-season fertilizers.