Worse Lawn in the Neighborhood
This is my first post to the forum. I purchased a home almost two years ago, and since I tend to work long hours, I left the lawn care to the "professionals." After finally noticing I was getting less than stellar results but the amount continued to increase, I took over maintaining my yard. This is the first time that I have ever cut, edged, or even been outside for over an hour (voluntarily) since I have been an adult. So, needless to say, I need a lot of help.
I have the following issues with the different areas in my yard:
Front: This year, we had a very hard winter, which killed a lot of my grass in the front and left dirt patches. I started having a company spray the weeds, but I noticed crab grass is coming in and they only come and sprinkle pellets--that's it. I was wondering if I should wait until about September and kill off the grass and start over?
Sides: On both sides of the property, I have slopes that border both of my neighbor's properties. On one side, the grass is sparse and the soil is eroding, which makes it tough to mow. I usually get a push mower, but I have a few back problems as well. My other neighbor has thick, really nice grass that infiltrates my spotty yard. I have a tough time cutting this grass and generally avoid it and cut with the edger. I've been thinking about adding matching retaining walls to the slopes to take care of evening out both sides. Any other options or advice?
Side leading to back: One side of my property also is very shady and water collects there when it rains. There is less grass than dirt, and I'm at a loss what to do in this area. (I attached a picture of this area.)
Back: I have a few dead trees, weeds, and before I bought the property, someone used to dump all the grass clippings and brush (so I have two dump piles) in the very back that edges up to my back neighbor's. I'm afraid to dig too deep and come up with a snake or other pests that may be sleeping or nesting in this area. Other than the dead trees and overgrown ones and the dump piles, the only other problem is the number of large ant beds that keep popping up. As soon as I treat one, another one appears.
I don't know where to start as I have been getting conflicting advice: get some sod, fertilize, re-seed, etc. If I do get sod, what type would be best for my zone? Also, please, use as many pictures or details as possible, because as a beginner I can not stress how refreshing it is to have someone "dummy" proof any instructions for me.
Thanks and have a blessed Sunday!