Rake your leaves
If you only do one thing to prepare, do this. Leaves will smother your grass and turn it into a dirt patch (and next spring the neighbour kids will come over to play on the new “vacant lot”). If your aches, pains and other excuses are pretty convincing then hire your local 15 year-old to do it for you so he can buy more toilet paper for your yard, oh, wait-a-minute…
You can save some of the leaves to put on your flowerbed to help prevent an early crop of weeds in the spring. When it warms up, rake, plant and you may win a prize for the best geraniums.
Late fall (about a month before it usually freezes) is the best time to fertilize your lawn because it’s hungry! It’s been slurping nutrients out of the soil all summer to grow leaves and there’s not much left to eat. Fertilizing in the fall will help the roots survive hibernation and wake up quickly in the spring. A quick start in the spring will help prevent disease and weeds.
Cut your grass short
For most moist/wet climates you may want to give your grass a buzz cut before the snow flies. Generally, homeowners will mow twice in October and once in November because the grass is barely growing. Instead of skipping weeks in October, it can be better to drop the blade height one notch and mow every week until the grass is about three-fourths of an inch tall. This will prevent a build up of dead grass in the spring that may smother new growth. If you live in an arid climate (20 inches or less of rain per year) and you don’t have automatic sprinklers, skip weeks when the grass is barely growing. A moderate buildup of dead grass will help hold in ground moisture over the winter.