Step 3: Top-Dress

roger cook showing how to top-dress with compost and prepare your lawn for winter
Photo: Kindra Clineff
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Where grass is sparse, prepare for seeding by spreading a half-inch layer of aged compost. I hold a snow-shovelful in the crook of my arm, fling it off with my free hand, as shown, then work it in with a leaf rake. Be sure your compost is cured: dry, crumbly, and cool to the touch. If it's hot and smells, it's more likely to harbor pathogens and burn your lawn.
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    Tools List

    • lawn mower
      Lawn mower
    • Core aerator
    • wheelbarrow
      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