I would aerate now and put down the seed. Let the soil breathe now before the winter. This is the best time of the year to do this. Would also cut the lawn a lil shorter before doing this, better chance of the seed hitting the ground. As for your friends sounds like they know you have a project and are to busy to help or are looking to get paid. Enjoy the project, it will look good with time and care, might also add 15 to 20 % to your home value.
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