We just received a timely email: “I know that fall is the best time to do lawn seeding. What’s the correct order in which to do the following: top dressing with compost, aerating, and overseeding?”

This email contains questions that a lot of you have regarding the correct “order” of Fall lawn care and what practices are vital to the health of your lawn. So let’s get to it!

“I know that fall is the best time to do lawn seeding…”  Yes! The perfect time to do all the items mentioned is late August through the end of September; as soon as possible after the summer heat breaks and the soil is dry enough to work.

“What’s the correct order in which to do the following: top dressing with compost, aerating, and overseeding?”

Step One: Pull The Plug(s)

The first step would be to do a core aeration to open up the compacted soil, which will then be much more receptive to seeding which allows oxygen, water & nutrients to reach the root zone & relieves compaction to allow existing turf to spread out new roots and new seed to take root.

Anytime between the end of August through the end of September is the perfect window to aerate a lawn. But you must actually remove plugs of soil to do any good — just poking holes in the turf without removing anything is a really just a waste of time. After it’s done, you can leave the pulled-out cores on the lawn (where they’ll fall apart after a few weeks and/or the first mowing).

Step Two: Bring On The Black Gold!

Once your soil has been “opened up” it is time to spread compost on the newly aerated lawn. This will provide a perfect fall feeding, dramatically improve the organic matter content of your soil, and provide a perfect seed bed for the final step of filling in bare spots with fresh seed.

Here at Swazy, we use Barefoot Organics compost this ‘black gold” is healthy food for your lawn. According to our friends over at Barefoot Organics their compost, “will support strong root development and encourage nutrient renewal for a healthy environment in the root zone. Our well-balanced humus has the energy values your grass and landscaping need. Feeding your soil a healthy diet that promotes a hearty root system will give you a beautiful, green lawn.” For more info on Barefoot Organics, you can check out their website at

According to the United States Composting Council (USCC), compost has Physical, Chemical, Biological benefits and more! Check out this PDF on  Compost and Its Benefits * USCC

Step Three: Sowing The Seeds of Love

Next, we spread new seed to fill in bare spots, We spread the seed into that wonderful compost. We do not suggest putting down straw or other nonsense — it limits the germination and looks awful for many months to come.

Then gently water the lawn once in the morning and once per night until the seed sprouts, which will be quick in this perfect weather. After it sprouts, cut back to morning only, and don’t water at all if we’re getting reliable rain.


  • The next month is prime time to improve and/or to start a brand-new lawn. Grass seed sown in the spring germinates poorly in the cold soil and then burns up in the summer heat. But the soil is now the perfect temperature for rapid germination, and the shorter days and cooler nights to come are ideal conditions for cool season grasses to establish themselves.
  • Don’t need to seed? Anytime over the next month is also the time to feed turf grass & aerate.
  • Compost is the ideal food; it provides all the nutrients your lawn needs and improves the structure of the soil. It is referred to as “Black Gold” for a reason and it just can’t be beaten.