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I have a relatively small area of lawn that surrounds my property and I'd like to take some steps to try to revive it this spring. I don't know the exact size, but generally machinery like gas-powered aerators feels like it might be overkill. I've included a photo below of one of the worse spots which gets some sun in the morning, but is mostly in shade.

The amount of maintenance performed on the lawn is relatively small, mostly just cuttings with a couple of feedings.

I've watched some of the videos from This Old House and read a few of the top hits on Google. It seems like the basic strategy is:

  1. Trim grass uniformly and ensure all clippings are bagged.
  2. Remove the thatch from the lawn with a rake, or powered dethatcher.
  3. Aerate the lawn, ideally with a mechanized core aerator.
  4. Spread compost.
  5. Spread fertilizer.
  6. Spread grass seed.

We moved some flower beds around so steps 4-6 are something I have some familiarity with. I used a fall seed mix, but didn't really consider the type of grass. At that time we had rented a tiller so the ground was well broken up and we had compost on hand.

Given the current state of the lawn with the grass not very long, I feel like I should be doing some additional work like targeting weeds, such as crabgrass. Is applying a lot of chemicals really going to do much for me? Would it be much of an improvement to just perform 3-6 using a spike aerator?

I feel like this is a manageable project for me, but wonder if I'll be better off in the long term hiring someone to get the grass in order.

Current lawn

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