First home, first lawn - some struggles
This is my first post to the GardenWeb forums, but not my first visit. I've used this forum quite a bit to assist me in repairing and working with my first lawn.
Let me start by saying that this post is long and references an external album (a lot of pictures I'd like to share to get advice on) so I appreciate those of you that read through this and provide any insight you can. I look forward to the replies!
To start, my wife and I purchased our house September 2012 (first home) and the yard was in a bit of stress. I have an album available here to view all pictures, with descriptions:
The first four pictures in the album are before and after pictures; pre-yard work (July 2012) and post yard work (July 2013). Overall the yard took well to the work, the front yard still remains in great condition and a majority of the back yard does as well. The back is in shade 70% of the day due to a lot of tree cover, but I purchased premium Pennington shade-grass seed to re-seed the back and it's taken pretty well, as shown in PIC-10.
My trouble area is the side yard and some of a hill. The side being the worst. The left side of my house (PICs 3,5,6,7) is in shade 90% of the day if not more. There's a big maple tree next to the deck that shades the yard and I believe to be the main cause of killing the grass.
I suspect some areas are just not able to be saved, in PIC-5 top right of the picture (where the tree is) it completely died early August. I suspect I just need to mulch all of that and call it a day due to the tree. It gets no sun, ever, and the tree drip-line hammers the ground with water when it rains. PIC-6 shows a zoomed in shot of that area, which is now basically dirt.
So here is what I did, and then after what happened in a rough time-line:
WHAT I DID:
When I moved in i treated the entire yard with lime, pH balance was around 4.0-5.0 in areas, after treatment it's now roughly around 6.3 or so (still needs to go up, but a good start). I did this September 2012 when we moved in.
Once the weather started to get around 50+ F consistently (end of March early April) I dethatched, core aerated, and seeded the lawn with the Pennington premium seed. General lawn I just did seed and let nature water, any thin/damaged areas I cultivated, mixed with new rich soil, seeded, and laid hay down to let it grow. Overall it took well (PICs 2,4,9).
The grass stayed very healthy (except for right around the maple tree in PIC-4) until early August. It started with the grass sort of "falling" on itself. It looked like something was sleeping on the grass all night, as it started to fall in on itself (we have no pets, no kids, and nobody comes onto our lawn - motion lights out back, never kick on so we know nothing is out there). I tried to get the grass back up by just gently swishing my hand in it, but that's when I noticed the grass was sticking to itself (almost as if it was glued together). If it was pulled just lightly the roots ripped right up, like it was not even 1/8" in the ground.
It continued to drop and die, end of August it eventually thinned out (PIC-7) or completely died (PIC-6). Ultimately my problem is shown viewing the entire side of the house (PIC-5).
Everything else I treated stayed in great shape, so I suspect the side yard needs special treatment.
I am tempted to scalp that entire area this fall, heavily cultivate (do a deep rip-up of the ground, good couple inches down) and re-seed with pure shade mix. Let the fall sustain the roots, then treat and fertilize early Spring. But I've put a lot of money into the yard already, so I'd hate to do it again to have the same results next year.
This is where i come to all of you for any advice you can provide. I feel defeated haha, so any advice will be appreciated. Thank you in advance!