Apologies in advance if this is a duplicate; I have read some other similar questions but each scenario is so individual that it is hard to know exactly which advice to apply.
My yard, which is all in front and to the side of the house, is broken into smaller areas. One small area, on the shady side of the house, has a beautiful lush lawn that stays green all winter and grows nicely in the summer with minimal watering. The other side, which has no shade at all, has no grass at all and, it looks like, very poor (sandy) soil.
The previous owner (we moved here two years ago) breezily assured us that 'every spring, you just sprinkle some grass seed, get a truck to dump some top soil on top, and that's all.' Knowing nothing about lawns (this is our first house), we accepted that.
Now, with a lot more research and experience, it seems very strange. A healthy, well-established lawn should not need to be reseeded every year. And indeed, the side yard grass continues growing nicely and does not need to be reseeded.
But he did seem to be right about the front - we moved in the winter, and in the spring no grass grew there - it was all weeds. Once it got cold, the weeds all died, and now the lawn on one side of my house is nice green grass, and on the other side it's all brown dead weeds.
How and when do I get rid of the dead weeds and plant grass? And how do I ensure that the grass establishes itself and stays green continuously, like the grass in my side yard, rather than needing to be re-seeded every year?
I see a lot of questions here about how to kill weeds to re-start a lawn, but my weeds are already dead. Can I just get rid of them and plant grass? If so, how do I get them out, and when?
I don't want to use herbicides, and I'm ok with some weeds in my lawn. I don't need the 'perfect' lawn, I just want it to be soft and green in most areas - I don't mind if it's not perfectly lush everywhere. Last year, we removed a patio, mixed compost and topsoil into the sand underneath, and hand-seeded grass. I was pretty happy with the results - there was a fair amount of weed growth, but mostly where the grass seed had not been planted thickly enough. If I can get the same results in the rest of the yard, I'm happy.
I am willing to hire out some of the labor, but people I have spoken to want to charge huge sums to remove the weeds and establish the lawn (they also insist on putting in sod, which is much more expensive, when I am happy with my prior results from seed). I am happy to do the seeding and mulching myself, but am not up harder physical work. What exactly would need to be done, with which tools, so I can try to find someone to do it?
Note that it is currently winter here (south-central NJ; zone 7a), and the weather fluctuates - it's freezing many days, but then gets warm enough for outdoor work on others. And it's unlikely that the ground stays frozen for any length of time.