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Attached is a picture of my lawn. I live in NJ and without intervention, this is the best my lawn will look. I need some help on how to fill in this area. It's compacted and even though I have used aerators in the past, I'm really just throwing solutions at this in an attempt to see what sticks.

I finally thought I would post the picture and get some other input.
 

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You could use a "ripper" type device ( on the back of a garden tractor) to loosen it up down deep .

OR , simply rough it up with a rake .

Add a little compost & seed then lightly rake it in . Water when needed .

You will get much better results , though , if you wait until around Sept 1st !
 

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Thoroughly wetting it before working on it, should help you de-compact the soil, depending on the kind it is.

Are there a lot of tree roots? You may need some professional advice on how much to cut the roots without affecting the tree. If it casts shade most of the day, a particular grass for shade might be needed. You can also add soil, if you think it has been worn away. Hard to tell from the photo.
 

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Is that some kind of pipe or water shut off valve? Often, when excavation is done for plumbing repairs, they don't pay any attention to the soil. The topsoil just gets stirred in and you have useless, hard subsoil sitting on the surface that won't even grow a weed. Grass seeds germinate, but they just die off. An inch of topsoil will not fix this. You need more like 8 inches of topsoil for grass to grow right. And that is not really practical. So there is no easy fix. You just have to stay on top of it. Keep aerating. Keep topdressing with compost. It will gradually improve.

It could be shade also. If so, consider trimming some trees to let more sun in and use a type of seed that works in shade. "Sun & Shade" seed mixes don't really do the shade thing very well.
 

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mathmonger that is caused by poor soil conditions and poor lawn management. It is possible that someone may have sprayed too much weed killer and could have caused that.

A soil sample needs to be taken and sent off to either the local state university that handles this type of testing or Farm Bureau.
 
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