Lawns, Gardens & Trees


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Caring for Your Lawn in October

Winter is coming. It's time to prepare our lawns for the cold weather ahead of us. The following are some options for mowing, killing weeds, sowing seeds, and fertilizing our lawns in October.

Days are getting shorter. We all know that winter is coming. It's time to prepare our lawn for the cold weather ahead of us.

The best time to improve our lawn has passed. September was the month to focus on lawn improvement.

Here are some tips on caring for your lawn in October:

Mulch or Rake Leaves?

Shred leaves with your mulching mower. The lawn will not suffocate from the mulched leaves as long as you can see the grass blades after mowing.

Thick layers of leaves must be raked, or the lawn will get smothered and rot. These piles of leaves are often found below maples and other large-leaved trees. 

Final Mowing

A tall turf is bad over winter. It attracts voles (damage is shown) and becomes more susceptible to mold over winter. Cut your turf at a normal height or slightly lower (1.5–2.0 inches) the last time you mow.

Killing Weeds After Frost

Weeds can be sprayed after a frost if the leaves appear not to be damaged. The weeds must be active for the herbicide to be absorbed and move into the roots. Broadleaf herbicides with dicamba are effective. If you spray, do it ASAP.

Avoid spraying lawns that are suffering from significant drought stress. In this case, a spot spray of weeds is most appropriate.


Don’t sow now; the seedlings won’t survive winter.

Wait to sow seed until November; these seeds will sprout next spring. Sow seed, lightly incorporate in soil, and irrigate once. This strategy is well known as "dormant seeding."


Don't fertilize now. We do not want to encourage a burst of new, lush growth. Let's allow the lawn to harden itself and prepare for winter. 

Winter is coming. Take a few moments to prepare your lawn before winter arrives. Your healthy lawn will come out of winter ready to green up and grow vigorously next spring. 

Written by , Extension Horticulturist, North Dakota State University. Photos were made available under Creative Commons licenses specified by the photographers: Peggy Choucair from Pixabay; BlueRidgeKitties; David L. Clement, University of Maryland,; *Jyl*.

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