Lawn in shambles--where to start?
Hi everybody! I'm a noob to lawn care and I've been trying to do my homework, but I'm a bit overwhelmed. I'm hoping someone here can help me sort out all the information.
My mother's lawn has been completely neglected for over fourteen years, and it looks it. I'd like to fix it up for her before the neighbors (who have perfect lawns) put strychnine in her coffee maker. She lives in the Kansas City area, the soil here is very dense clay. The yard has never been aerated, fertilized, seeded, or treated for weeds. It was zoysia grass twenty years ago. Now it's roughly a third crabgrass and dandelions, plus a couple nice big bare patches from foot traffic and tree removal. The lawn typically gets mowed when the crabgrass gets tall, as the zoysia doesn't grow nearly as fast.
As my mother is not willing to put any money into lawn care, this act of goodwill is on a shoestring budget. I can, however, spare a good deal of time, and I don't mind tedious work. I'm only concerned with the front yard for now, and it's a fairly small area (maybe 600 square feet).
Should my first priority be to aerate and fertilize the yard in hopes of encouraging any kind of growth, then kill the weeds as they come up? Or do I need to grit my teeth and wait until fall, when I can re-seed? I want to avoid expensive tool rentals and I plan to invest in a step-style core aerator (tedious but cheap). Also, the lawn guy at my local hardware store said that it would be advisable to re-seed with fescue and bluegrass while keeping what's left of the zoysia. Does this sound kosher?