It has been a couple months I have been working on my yard. Thank you all of your time and advice! My back yard was in bad condition. First I killed wild weeds cleaned and hired someone to trim my trees. I think I had more than 30 yard waste bags :) I live in Kansas city and I am planning on seeding and overseeding my yard. I talked to someone from home depot he that said I should rent one of their overseeder. I am adding some photos here. Do I need to aerate before I start?

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  • These photos from early summer. ibb.co/mEGd38 ----- ibb.co/iVWZbT – Sami Sep 1 '18 at 19:25
  • By aerate, do you mean to hire/rent some kind of mechanical, motor driven multi bladed device and run it all over the lot, digging up and breaking the top 6 inches or so? – Caius Jard Sep 1 '18 at 19:27
  • Yes, rent the Classen 18" Compact Aerator (CA-18). – Sami Sep 1 '18 at 19:34
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    @Sami When you do aerate next year the ONLY aerator you should use is core pulling aerator. Leave the cores where they lie. Any other type of aerator will make compaction worse. And precious tree roots are within the top 4 to 6 inches of your soil. You could kill those trees with a multi bladed device digging up the top 6" or so! Also, what do your mortgage documents show about permeability requirements for your lot? This is a big deal to make decisions. You should see a number that they've set you at for your home and walks and driveways and know how much more...gravel is not 100% perm. – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 22:11

Your yard looks way better from previous photos! Dang, I have to ask this question; are you set on trying to grow grasses in this very shady area? If you are try to make sure you have shade grass seed, do not aerate until next year, best to have your grass sprayed in by a grass seeding company. They include just the right amount of fertilizer and that green mulch to protect the seeds from washing away and drying out if you forget to water the newly germinating seeds.

This method also inhibits weed seeds from growing while you are allowing your grass to get a foot hold. These companies, unlike pesticide or maintenance companies WANT your lawn to be successful. They might just tell you what I am going to tell you...this is not at all a good situation for a grass crop. Too much shade.

There are alternatives that I'd like you to think about. One is gravel instead of grass. Crushed gravel 3/8 minus installed on landscape fabric with 2X4 edging at least 2 to 4" deep. This is what they do in the parks in Japan where the trees have grown huge and the ground is shaded. Clean, no maintenance, just use a blower or rake to freshen it up. Dove gray crushed gravel.

Installing a series of low decks, paver landings/patio. I am hoping you are taking a picture from your back door? If too far away from the home that amount of investment would never get used. One of the reasons people are encouraged to install hot tubs as close to the home as possible. Firepits make a difference however to draw people out and farther from the home.

Other groundcovers called 'Steppables' (sp)? Low ground covers that don't need mowing, they stay a certain height and they can handle being stepped upon, somewhat.

shade grasses no mow

shade ground covers

This second site suggests Vinca or Periwinkle and I strongly disagree. I've never dealt with a more horribly invasive as heck plant. I've seen landscapes completely blanketed by this plant within one year. Can't believe it isn't on the top ten worst weeds ever, yet! If you can keep it in pots then fine, the larger vinca does best in out door hanging pots, but I strongly suggest that you don't get tempted to plant it in your yard!

Just a few thoughts. Grass needs sun. Grass in shade needs to be cut very very high (3.5" no lower) and very low nitrogen in the fertilizer! Or less fertilizer than grass growing in the sun.

Looks like you did a great job on the soil beneath your fence! Is there soil or plants on the other side that are on your fence? Is that "your" fence or the neighbor's? Excellent grape stake FINE texture for the back of your yard as well as the gray patina. This yard has so many potentials here. What is going on at your home where you are standing?

You should call a grass spray seeding company for a quote and suggestions. Free. They are great for information and wanting to succeed. They have warranties and come back to fix holes and will know your soil and micro environment/climate. If they say they can do this, THEN go for it. Please let me know what they quote you?

Think about making 'rooms' in your landscape. A little mystery goes a long ways. If you are able to see the entirety of your yard from the back door or front door what is to motivate you to go out and experience your own property? Do you have parties or out of doors entertaining? How about irrigation? Automatic or manual?

Get a quote from the seed spraying company and let's talk more, okay? I love your yard and a grass crop might not be a good investment. Truly a lovely back yard! Am I imagining that you sent before pictures of your yard because I kinda have previous memories? Or was that someone else's? Is your entire yard fenced in? I've got ideas on how to NOT make a cat box back yard yet add fencing or 'screens' to define your back yard. airy fence[![Fire pit, garden walls CMU concrete modular units, paver patio...]4

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    @Sami WHOA! Beautiful yard. Yup I will try to dissuade you from 'overseeding' . This in no way be successful by overseeding. You have to see this is creating a new crop to match your older in the sun crop and will never be successful. So beautiful the differences in 'rooms'! Lucky you. Please ask those spray seeder companies to give you free advice and a quote to include prep and followup. Scott's ain't a great company, unfortunately. They like selling to home owners that know not what they are doing! Shade grass is always going to be borderline healthy in shade seed mixes for shade. – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 23:12
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    Again, gorgeous home, gorgeous back yard with super amenities. Find out where you are on permeability percentage if you have that rule in your Kansas city county. Please ask a seed spray company to give you an estimate and valuable information. You might be very surprised how cost effective this is! My goodness such a wonderful back yard! Grass is NOT at all what I would want under those trees! Unless the spray seed company could give you a thumbs up for success. They would know! – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 23:23
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    99 percent grass seed and 1 percent weed seed? Arghhh! Fescue is what I imagined but even fescue needs more sun than what I am seeing under these trees. Please get an estimate! I understand what it is you imagine and that most certainly can happen without growing grass in the shade. Grins, I have dealt with 'the customer knows best' and I managed to get my bosses on my side to allow me to educate clients what is in their best interest. We never lost a customer cause I said, "let's discuss this more in detail first before you spend your money". People loved having someone help them win – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 23:44
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    Please let us know what you learn!? I only used 'Professional Seed Mix' with zero weed seed. Otherwise, sod was the only way to go. Unfortunately sod needs sun. Sod is never grown in shade for a reason. Your back yard is to kill for for a Landscape Architect! You are so very welcome, Sami. Keep asking questions... – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 23:51
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    Sami, yes, a waste of money. Just planting seed does not a lawn make! All grasses need sun. I am seeing too little sun even for shade grasses. Grass seed spray companies will be on site and will not accept a contract unless they are assured success. – stormy Sep 1 '18 at 23:53

I strongly recommend aerating before planting. The looser and less compact your soil is the better chance the seeds you sow will have to germinate. I would also recommend dethatching if there is any evidence of thatch in your lawn. Again, this will I have a complete section on aerating and dethatching on my website, Aerating and Dethatching.

  • Thank you, I am planning to aerate next spring or fall. – Sami Oct 12 '18 at 14:15

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Thank you @stormy for your help. These two photos are the most recent photos. I seeded two weeks ago.

Thank you again

  • Heck you have to know I am impressed! Your newly seeded area is amazingly lush. I think you've raised your deck a bit but a half inch to a whole inch higher, allowing your grass to be only as short as 3", never shorter...would dazzle you with the difference. How often are you watering now that your newbie grasses are being mowed? Remember about not watering unless you see your footprints stay down on your grass when you walk on it? This enhances the drought tolerance of your grass, kills baby weeds because they have tiny and short root systems, shades out the weeds and the grasses... – stormy Oct 1 '18 at 6:52
  • ...become vigorous, dark green and are better out competing weeds. I am worried about why your established lawn is thinning? Your new grasses (what type of seed did you end up using)? look very healthy, maybe there is more sun than I thought getting through to your shaded meadow. Have you ever considered landscape lighting? – stormy Oct 1 '18 at 6:56
  • Do you have your own septic system or are you on city sewer? I hope you have an office in your home so you can USE this wonderful yard all day. Let me know if you want design ideas down the road...okay? – stormy Oct 1 '18 at 7:04
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    Stay in touch, Sami! – stormy Oct 3 '18 at 0:31
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    Oh I gotta add one more thing. Fertilizer, please try Dr. Earth's Lawn Fertilizer. Costs a bit more but worth it. Thatch eating bacteria included. I hate promoting any product but gee, this might make a huge difference in your lawn. Rarely fertilize the shady grass, perhaps half what you do for the established grass that gets lots of sun. I am glad you learned a lot...that is the main purpose. Makes me happy...grins! – stormy Oct 3 '18 at 5:49

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