Planning to plant new lawn

Asked August 17, 2020, 11:31 AM EDT

Hello,
I am planning to plant a new lawn in my front yard. It is currently mostly bare, except for a few patches, and has some moss in some areas.
The area is just under 7000 sq.ft.
It is mostly shaded, so I am planning to use the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed Dense Shade Mix for Tall Fescue. Would this be a good option?
I believe a good time to plant the seeds in right around Labor Day. Is that correct?
I have been reading and watching videos about the steps for preparing the soil but it seems each article or video gives different advice about how loose the soil should be, what to add for a top layer if any, etc.
I am planning on tilling then evening the surface of the soil. Should I then add a layer of lawn soil, such as the Scotts Lawn Soil, and how much of it? 1" over 7,000 sq.ft is over $3k worth of soil, so I want to be sure that it is necessary. or maybe there are some alternatives?
Some articles/videos also recommend adding peat moss. Would that be instead of using lawn soil?
Would having my soil tested help in determining the best way to prepare my lawn? Or is knowing where I live enough information to determine the type of soil I have? (I live in Bloomfield Hills, on Lake Chalmers, just north of Wing Lake).
Basically, I am trying to make sure that I give my grass the best chance to grow without wasting money on things that are not needed. I would appreciate any advice you can provide.

Best regards,
Christophe Gaillard

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response

Congratulations! You have picked the best time of the year in Michigan to seed a new lawn.
FIRST: you need to do a soil test to learn about your soil type, it's fertility, organic content and more. Go here to get your test: https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Soil_Test9-12RS.pdf
While you are waiting for the results, you could till the soil (2-3 in. deep) to loosen it and to be ready to add organic material if your soil test indicates a need. I would rather add organic material (compost, rotted leaves, rotted manure, etc.-think bulk, not bagged) to your soil than a layer of soil on top (which could also smother tree roots). Be careful about tilling too deep as you are under trees and will damage their roots. Your seed choice sounds good, but you might want to check with a turf expert at your local nursery for their opinion as they might suggest a better seed mix (mostly turf-type tall fescue and fine fescues for shade). I will also suggest that in the deepest shade areas (1st photo) you might want to consider a shade loving ground cover as all turf varieties like some sunlight to grow densely. More info here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/shady_lawn_alternatives
Articles that will help you in this process:
https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/establishing_a_new_lawn_using_seed_e2910
https://www.canr.msu.edu/home_gardening/lawns/
http://turf.cals.cornell.edu/lawn/lawn-care-the-easiest-steps-to-an-attractive-environmental-asset/
Good luck! By mid-late October you should have a nice lawn established.