Fall Lawn Care: How to Repair After a Drought

Summer can leave lawns hard and patchy. Try these tips for improving a summer-damaged lawn. 

From: DK Books - Learn to Garden

Step 1: Scratch Out Thatch

Scratch Out Thatch

Scratch Out Thatch

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Use a spring-tined rake to vigorously scratch out or “scarify” thatch. Treat moss and make sure it is dead before scarifying; raking live moss spreads the problem around.

Step 2: Aerate

Aerating Lawn Keeps It Healthy and Productive

Aerating Lawn Keeps It Healthy and Productive

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Aerate the lawn every 2–3 years. This is easiest when the soil is moist. Drive in a fork, or on heavy soils use a hollow-tiner to remove cores of soil, every 4 in (10 cm).

Step 3: Apply Dressing

Apply Top Dressing

Apply Top Dressing

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Apply top-dressing directly after aerating, spreading the mixture evenly over the surface—one bucketful will cover approximately 6 sq yd (5 sq m). Make top-dressing using 3 parts sandy loam, 6 parts horticultural sand, and 1 part peat substitute (such as composted bark or coir).

Step 4: Work it In

Work it In

Work it In

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Work the top-dressing well into the grass and the air holes using the back of a rake or a stiff broom. To make the job easier, allow the mixture to dry slightly before brushing it in.

Step 5: Spread at Right Angles

Spread at Right Angles

Spread at Right Angles

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Apply a fall lawn fertilizer at the rate recommended on the package. For an even spread, scatter half the fertilizer in one direction and the other half at right angles to it.

Step 6: Seed Sparse Areas

Seeding Sparse Areas

Seeding Sparse Areas

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

If the lawn looks sparse, sprinkle it with some seed. Choose a seed type to match the rest of the lawn and use about half the amount recommended for sowing a new lawn.

Next Up

How to Treat Your Lawn in the Fall

Keep your lawn healthy in the fall and learn how to repair damaged turf with these step-by-step instructions.

How to Make Your Fall Lawn Look Just Like Wrigley Field

Tips and insight from the manager of one of the most famous baseball fields in the country.

How to Prepare Your Lawn for Winter

Get your lawn in shape to cope with winter by giving it a little TLC in the fall.

Fall Gardening Checklist

Essential chores to get your garden, lawn and tools ready for cooler weather.

Seeding a Lawn

Fall is the right season to reinvigorate your existing lawn or plant a new one. Follow the steps below to help ensure successful results.

10 Essential Fall Gardening Tasks to Do Right Now (You'll Be So Glad You Did)

Tackle this list of fall gardening chores, then get back to that hot toddy. You deserve it!

How to Design a Garden With Mums

Make your fall garden glow with jewel-colored mums.

Mums vs. Asters and How To Use Them in Your Landscape

Don't toss those potted mums and asters after they bloom, plant them in your yard.

Fall Webworms

The unsightly nests of this caterpillar are an unwelcome sign of summer’s end.

Fall Clean-Up: What to Do When Autumn Leaves Start to Fall

Tips on easy clean-up and ways to recycle.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.