I don't know the "right" answer, but I'll tell you what I've done.
I'm in a similar climate, temperature-wise. My lawn is pretty pathetic; I don't put much effort into it.
I top dress around my apple trees in the spring and fall with about 1" of composted horse manure. I don't bother to rake it in -- some mulch on the surface is nice to have there. This spring I had some compost left over in the wheelbarrow so I spread it around on a nearby patch of lawn -- I did rake that in.
The grass in that ring around the trees is thick and green. The grass where I raked the extra compost is greener than the rest of the lawn, but less so than where I piled it thick around the trees. Actually, there's a strip of lawn "downstream" from one tree where the rain runs off that seems to be benefiting from the runoff from that inch of compost.
The Vegetable Garden
Last year I had two patches of corn in my garden. I fed the first patch every couple of weeks with liquid fish fertilizer. I gave the second patch a top dressing of 1-2" of composted horse manure when it was maybe 2' tall. The first patch did ok; the plants struggled a little bit but I got a decent yield. The second patch did well; the plants were strong and had nice green leaves, though I'm not sure the yield was any higher.
Part of the veg garden was new, and the soil wasn't built-up yet. I had squash planted there that weren't thriving. I tried top dressing with about 2" of manure on half the plants and dried blood on the others. The plants treated with blood responded much faster. Unfortunately I can't say much about yield, which was poor. An infestation of squash beetles and powdery mildew didn't help. Part of the lesson learned is that "fixing" with top dressing doesn't always work: weak plants invite pests and disease. (The volunteer pumpkins 30' away growing out of the compost pile -- very well fed from the start! -- were relatively unaffected by the beetles and powdery mildew.)
The Horse Pasture
I'm building soil in a sloping area of would-be horse pasture that's got very poor soil. Think of it as a large lawn. As an experiment last fall, I dumped several 1' high by 2-3' wide windrows of compost along contour lines on the slope. Not surprisingly, the grass below those piles grows better than anywhere else -- the nutrients flowing out of the windrows when it rains feeds everything downhill. Obviously, though, nothing grows directly under those piles -- not necessarily what you want to have on your lawn, though I'm tempted to do this and plant some flowers into the pile.