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?
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.
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. ]4
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.