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I bought my first house last year and have been steadily working on fixing it up. I am thinking about tackling the yard soon but need some advice. I live in central Arkansas and my home is located in a densely forested area, i.e. lots of shade. My current lawn is very patchy and thin, and I want to try reseeding it. What type of seed should I use? What prep work do I need to do before spreading the seed?

My second worry is that my front lawn slopes downhill from my street to my house. When it rain, all the water tends to settle near my house. My lawn is nice and green there, but the rest is almost a dust mound. Mowing sucks because, without grass to hold it in place, dirt gets kicked up by my lawn mower. What can I do so that the top of my lawn retains water better?
 

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No one knows where you are so it's any ones guess what type seed would work in your area.
Hard to grow grass without sun, consider cutting some of the limbs back.
Soil test is a great idea.
Poor soil, no grass.
Check out the Scott's web site, great info on anything to do with lawns and gardens.
 

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Do a little research of Monkey Grass. There are several to choose from. I have a narrow area in shade on the N. side of the house where it does well and I believe it is Liriope with the purple blooms.

It only needs to be mowed once / year in late February - early March and that's it for the care it gets. It does need to be cut before new spring growth as the leaves are pointed and if the new growth is cut the leaf ends will stay square/ragged through the full season. No watering and no fertilizer.

Seems expensive but as can be seen where I added some walk way plugs were taken from the established area and that it filled mostly in one year.

The pic was taken March 15 just before I cut it to the dirt with the string trimmer. New growth will appear as the weather warms just a little.
 

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