Q: What sort of lawn prep should I do before winter to get a jump start on next year's growing season? —Dave krocak, St. Louis Park, Minn.

A: Roger cook replies: With summer's heat and dryness at an end, September is the best month to lay the groundwork for next year's lush lawn. That means aerating the turf—to reduce compaction and make it easier for fertilizer and water to reach the roots—and reinvigorating thin areas with compost and seed. Before you start, get a soil test so that you know the type and amount of amendments to add. (Repeat the test in three to five years.) Then follow the steps to follow.

Just remember: When aerating, fertilizing, or seeding, always go over the turf twice, with criss-crossing paths. You don't want stripes in your revitalized lawn.

Pictured: Roger Cook uses a lightweight rotary spreader to broadcast fertilizer, lime, and grass seed.
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    Tools List

    • lawn mower
      Lawn mower
    • Core aerator
    • wheelbarrow
    • snow shovel
      Snow shovel
    • rotary spreader
      Spreader (rotary or drop)
    • plastic rake
      Leaf rake

    Shopping List

    Aged compost: One cubic yard covers 648 square feet.

    Starter fertilizer

    Any recommended soil amendments

    Grass seed