Overseeding my lawn.
This year has been the worst effect on my lawn here in the Benton Harbor-St Joseph, MI. area. My back yard especially, is bare in so many places, and when I did cut it, after almost two months, a large cloud of dust forms. The soil here is sandy. I want to overseed my backyard first to ensure it will look good in the spring next year. Questions: 1-Should I start in the fall? 2-What type of grass/grass mixture should I use? 3-I had my soil tested 5+ years ago through MSU...should I have it retested? 4-Should I consider hydroseeding? Thank you
Berrien County Michigan
From the pictures I would say that considerably more than overseeding will be required for a good lawn. Right now is the perfect time of the year to accomplish this, days are shorter, nights are cooler and soil temps are cooler, also a time when weeds and crabgrass are much less of a robust problem. It is however a commitment to time and resources from you so consider all of the factors involved before deciding to go ahead with it. Lawns need three basic elements, to be fed correctly, watered correctly, and maintained correctly. Timely fertilizing is most effective when soil temps are between 50 and 65 degrees, the only time that root growth happens. Timely watering is critical as well. The wet spring not withstanding, Michigan's climate will not support a great lawn so supplemental watering is necessary. How that happens directly affects quality. For a large lawn, dragging garden hoses around will not achieve uniform and timely watering. In ground irrigation however gives the homeowner complete control. For maintenance, mowing high is the only way to have a nice lawn. The top growth supports the root growth and not the other way around as commonly thought. Scalp your lawn and it jettisons roots it does not need. There is time and attention to detail involved for all.
That said, refurbishing is what is needed at this point. A soil test is the first best action. You get a report back declaring exactly what is needed for optimal lawn growth. Good growing soil is the first most basic requirement. In your case, you will likely have to add organic material such as compost mixed in, a laborious task in itself, and you would be staring a new lawn. You can read more on lawn establishment here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/establishing_a_new_lawn_using_seed_e2910
For a large lawn, consider having a professional lawn care company handle it. Slit seeders and hydroseeding are the two best methods.