Guide to 3 Crucial Fall Lawn Care Tasks: Aeration, Overseeding, & Topdressing

Written By: Todd Thomasson

As warm summer days drift away and nights become cooler, you might assume your lawn care work is done. You’re probably thinking about warming up a mug of apple cider as the leaves change to vibrant, rich hues instead of worrying about the health of your grass.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of fall. Despite busy autumn weekends full of apple picking and pumpkin carving, this is the time of year when lawn care is most essential to ensure your grass springs back into action after surviving winter’s harsh conditions.

Getting important fall tasks like aeration, overseeding, and topdressing done using proper autumn timing will mean a healthier lawn later. Let’s look at some key fall lawn care tips for Northern Virginia homes so you can learn how to best care for your lawn in the fall.

Table of Contents

Why Fall Lawn Care Is So Important
Fall Lawn Aeration
Overseeding Your Lawn in Fall
Fall is The Best Time for Topdressing Your Lawn
Don’t Forget to Fertilize in Fall
Hiring Fall Lawn Care Services in Northern Virginia

Why Fall Lawn Care Is So Important

Timing can be everything when it comes to lawn care.

And while you’re not really thinking about lawn care in the fall, it’s a key time for maintaining your grass.

family plays in grass near pool in backyard

In fact, you may not realize it, but the best way to experience a lush lawn with the most minimal maintenance in spring is by following some fall lawn care tips.

In early fall, your soil is workable and you don’t have heavy, wet, or frozen ground to deal with like you have in early spring. This means it’s a great time to make improvements that will really be apparent the following year.

Throughout the year you might be going through a lot to make your lawn look great. Maybe you’re fertilizing and mowing and watering properly to ensure great-looking grass. But you might find all this work isn’t helping. That’s when you know you need fall lawn care. Maybe your lawn is off-color, thin, or majorly impacted by drought and other stressors. This can be frustrating when you’re putting in this work and reaping none of the rewards.

lawn care technician pouring granular fertilizer in spreader

There are three key fall lawn care services that can help reduce compaction in your lawn and encourage it to soak in nutrients again: aeration, overseeding, and topdressing. And they are best done during these autumn months.

Convinced fall is a great time to tend to your lawn? Here are the best ways to care for your lawn in the fall in Northern Virginia to ensure the best results all year long.

Fall Lawn Aeration

Your lawn might have some patchy or thin areas. You might wonder why it looks good one minute but not the next. You just want a consistently thick, green lawn. Is that too much to ask?

Fall lawn aeration can be the solution to your splotchy grass problem.

What is lawn aeration? Answering this question can help you better understand what it can do for your Northern Virginia lawn.

core aeration machine

Let’s talk about aeration. Lawn aeration is the process of removing small soil plugs throughout the lawn with a machine called an aerator. The plugs are each roughly 2 to 3 inches long and ½-inch wide, and they are left right on the lawn surface where they will naturally decompose as you continue to mow and water your grass in the fall. This enriches and improves the soil and reduces compaction.

What does lawn aeration do for your lawn? Northern Virginia is known for its clay soils that naturally become more compact over time. Aeration releases that compaction and breaks up thatch, which is the natural buildup of living and dead organic matter that builds up to a half inch at the top of your lawn soil. This process is like a breath of fresh air for your grass. It enables nutrients, water, and oxygen to get into your soil and down to your turf’s root zone where it needs it most. It discourages diseases and pests, as well as weeds. And it perks up your lawn’s look and gives you that grass you love.

core aeration plugs in hands

How? Well, your lawn needs nutrients, water, and oxygen to grow deeper roots. If it can take in fertilization, air, and irrigation then it can grow, and deeper roots give you that healthier, greener, and thicker lawn.

You might be looking out your window right now wondering if your lawn needs aeration. In Northern Virginia soils, all lawns can benefit from this service because they are growing in clay that naturally compacts over time if ignored.

Overseeding Your Lawn in Fall

In Northern Virginia, Turf’s Up provides overseeding with its aeration services. When you hire a professional for aeration services, you want to make sure lawn seeding services are a part of the package.

Why is overseeding a lawn important in the fall? Because this is the optimum time for seed germination in this area. It can fill in bare spots or thin areas and help thicken your lawn and boost its overall look and quality.

Not to mention, after aeration pulls soil plugs from your lawn, this has created the perfect holes for the seed to settle into and germinate. It maximizes what we call seed-to-soil contact.

To perform a fall lawn seeding or overseeding service, we use push spreaders that are correctly set to properly seed your lawn at 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet.

aeration plugs in grass with lawn seed

Seeding is a service that we see homeowners try to do themselves occasionally. It’s admirable they want to try and tackle this project themselves. The challenge with that is the seed you buy at home improvement stores is not always the best quality. It may include filler or not be considered clean seed. Low-grade seeds, unfortunately, can have weed seeds sneak in, which can mean you have a bigger job later tackling the weeds that grow. Hiring a professional who uses high-rated, clean seed varieties means you’ll get a better overall result.

In the time period immediately following aeration and overseeding, you have a job, too. You want to keep your seeds moist, but not drowning in water. This means watering in short bursts, such as 2 to 3 times per day for 15 to 20 minutes in each spot.

Germination of the seeds will take approximately 10 to 21 days, and keeping that top 1 inch of soil moist helps encourage this growth. If you fail to water or keep the soil moist, your germination will suffer, which may waste some of the money you invested in the service.

Once new grass begins growing, you can back off on watering a bit, but you want to maintain consistent moisture. Here, you’ll water less frequently but use more water. Soak the soil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches, which equates to watering about 2 to 3 times each week for approximately 1 hour.

lawn care professional seeds lawn

This whole lawn seeding process enables your grass to grow with deeper roots and become thicker and more drought-tolerant.

Once your lawn grows to a point where it’s tall enough to mow, you can feel confident it’s progressing as it should and you can go back to watering it like you do your other established grass areas. This doesn’t mean ignoring watering. It means watering once or twice each week if you’re not receiving enough rainfall. The type of rain you get also matters – 1 inch of pouring rain won’t be as great as 1 inch of steady rain as the latter will create more runoff. Also, you want to water in the mornings to discourage lawn disease.

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Fall is The Best Time for Topdressing Your Lawn

You want a great lawn, which is why you’re reading this. And fall is a key time to give your lawn a boost.

A key part of growing a lawn is paying attention to what’s happening with the soil.

Nutrients in your Northern Virginia soil deplete over time, leaving it starved for attention. You can naturally boost your soil quality by topdressing a lawn. This is a service that’s a good one to add to aeration and overseeding.

lawn care company topdresses lawn

When your lawn looks lifeless or is cursed with some disease or weed issues, topdressing could be something that can help bring it back to life.

What is topdressing a lawn? Turf’s up likes to offer topdressing at the time when we aerate and overseed. During the service, we spread a thin, ¼-inch thick layer of organic matter on top of your lawn to help amend the soil beneath it. We do this not just on parts we overseed, but on the entire lawn. Applying a thin layer is incredibly important when topdressing; too thick of a layer can cause drainage problems.

lawn care company topdresses lawn near driveway

On bare areas, in particular, we topdress and then overseed to help fill in those spots. The new grass grows through the topdressing as the topdressing does its work adding organic material and nutrients to your soil.

The organic matter we choose to topdress with is compost to reintroduce important microorganisms into your soil. The initial application may look a little dirty when it goes down but it quickly settles into the grass and soil after irrigation or rain.

What does topdressing with compost do for your lawn and soil? Quite a bit actually. Check out these benefits:

  1. Boosts your soil condition. The best soil is 7 to 12 inches of topsoil rich with organic matter and not too sandy or clay-based. Topdressing helps bring your heavy clay soil into more of a balance.
  2. Elevates microbial activity. Soil has natural microorganisms that break down over time. Topdressing helps increase microbial activity.
  3. Enhances lawn color. If you want green grass and not yellow or brown grass, topdressing adds that nitrogen boost to help keep your lawn a nice shade of green.
  4. Improves seed germination. Topdressing makes your soil ripe for encouraging seed germination because it covers the new seeds, retains moisture, and boosts that seed-to-soil contact.
  5. Reduces thatch. Healthier soil with better microbial activity encourages decomposition and reduces the buildup of things like thatch that can limit water, nutrients, and oxygen from getting to your lawn’s roots.
  6. Even out your lawn. Dips in your lawn can cause puddling and drainage issues, topdressing can help level out your yard.

lawn care company mows lawn

Before a topdressing service, we encourage Nothern Virginia homeowners to mow their lawns so the compost reaches your soil more quickly. We encourage topdressing after aeration to maximize this material’s reach into the soil.

Don’t Forget to Fertilize in Fall

In the autumn months, if you find yourself looking at a lawn that isn’t so pretty, you might think you should wait until spring to take care of things.

But fertilizing your lawn in the fall could actually do wonders for your lawn once the weather warms up again. You should really consider late fall lawn care services to ensure your grass receives that final round of fertilization. Why? Because it is actually one of the foundations for a great lawn.

Don’t believe us? Let’s look at what lawn fertilizing in fall can do for you so you can better understand the benefits.

lawn care technician fertilizes lawn in fall

Late fall fertilization, which some lawn care professionals may call a winterize, provides a few key perks for your grass:

  • Your lawn’s roots will use nutrients like phosphorus to strengthen over the winter as they slow their growth rate.
  • Potassium in fertilizer can help your lawn stand up to cold weather, better resisting damage and diseases.
  • Nitrogen stored in your lawn over winter ensures a return to green, vibrant grass once spring rolls back in.

In Northern Virginia, fall fertilization typically happens through the end of November. And even though you’re already thinking about winter, trust us that this is a great time to fit in that last fertilization to give your lawn the best start possible come spring.

Hiring Fall Lawn Care Services in Northern Virginia

Now that you know what fall lawn aeration, fall lawn seeding, and topdressing a lawn can do for the health of your grass and your yard’s curb appeal, you’re probably searching for the right partner to help you get this work done – and get it done right.


It can be hard to recognize what distinguishes one company from another as you’re doing your research.

Luckily, there are a few questions you can ask to ensure you get the answers you need to make the right choice.

  1. How many passes do you make during a lawn aeration service? Some companies do a single-pass aeration and some do a double-pass fall lawn aeration. You’ll find a business that performs two passes as opposed to one that will give you better results, giving you more for your money.
  2. How much does lawn aeration cost? With as much as lawn aeration provides, it actually doesn’t cost as much as you’d suspect. Turf’s Up’s prices start at $159, and our aeration comes with overseeding. Topdressing can be added to that. Compared to doing it yourself, this is usually the better option since renting the equipment, learning how to use it, and making time to do the work can be quite costly and time-consuming.
  3. How often do you recommend that I aerate my lawn? Fall lawn aeration is important for growing grass in clay-based soils like those in Northern Virginia. Most companies will recommend you do this annually.
  4. What results can I expect from lawn aeration, overseeding, and topdressing? If performed correctly, your results should be pretty incredible – a transformation in grass appearance and health.
  5. How can I find the best lawn aeration, overseeding, and topdressing service in Northern Virginia? You want to make sure these services are part of an overall host of lawn care services, showing the company knows about lawn care. You also want to read company reviews on third-party sites like Google Reviews to ensure you see what their customers say about the service and the results.

We know finding the right partner to handle these important services on your lawn can be hard to do. We hope this guide on aeration, overseeding, and topdressing in Northern Virginia helps you locate the best company to do the job and make your lawn look great.

As you review different companies, we hope you’ll consider Turf’s Up. We love what we do and love taking care of lawns in our local community. We pride ourselves on being responsive and well-educated on all areas of lawn care. And we’d love to help you have a lawn that stands out from all those on the block.

Ready to learn why Turf’s Up could be your totally awesome choice for lawn aeration, overseeding, and topdressing services in Northern Virginia? We’re stoked to learn more about you and help you have the best lawn on the block. Get started today with a free quote. Together, we can prepare a customized plan that is perfect for you and your yard.

lawn care service comparison

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