The troublesome, weed-diverse lawn on the side of my house:
Full-sun, south-facing, adjacent to blacktop driveway in Chicago's suburbs.
Original site had large evergreen.
Evergreen removed in 2004, stump ground to below surface, majority of debris removed.
Entire area destroyed by dumpster on property while hauling away concrete for new brick patio in back and brick walkway on side.
Neighbor kindly applied random handfuls of lime to raise the pH thinking the area to be acidic (he also had a similar pine removed on his property very close to the boundary).
Patio crew removed dumpster, only raked the soil (no other amendments), and re-sodded entire area.
This was all in the summer of 2004. Since then, very stunted growth for grass. Serious weed infestations (dandelions, purslane, clover, etc.).
My watering strategy, admittedly, has been spotty over the years. I've stood outside with hose in hand for 30 minutes soaking the area down, left a sprinkler on the area for hours, or simply have let it get too hot or dried out -- something wrong.
I have never applied chemical herbicides in this area -- always hand-dug dandelions, pulled out the purslane, clover, etc. by hand as my patience/determination warrants.
Hasn't been aerated or de-thatched in at least 8 years since we bought the house (didn't do anything mechanical since having the patio/walkway put in, either). I have applied Scotts products for the last 6 years, but have applied nothing to date.
Starting this spring:
I removed my bag and started mulching my clippings directly back into the ground -- that's the only fertilizer it's received this year (I applied Scotts Winterizer last fall -- the end of my synthetic fertilizer use).
I mow high once a week to stay ahead of growth due to the amount of rain we've had.
There has been no need to water given the torrential downpours northern Illinois has experienced recently.
I had a soil test performed on this section (among others). The pH came back at 7.2 with high levels of magnesium and 3.7% organic matter, and "medium" calcium, and "very high" phosphorous content according to the Master Gardener for the U. of Illinois Extension office here for Cook County, IL. She suggests a fertilizer application of 3-4 N, 0 P, and 2 K -- of course, I am trying to translate that into an appropriate application of organic/compost-based fertilizer. I was surprised that the pH was neutral given the prior presence of the two large evergreens - but maybe my neighbor applied just the right amount of lime four years ago.
Before I get into fertilizing solutions, I wonder if simply aerating would open it up more to give the grass an advantage.
Once I do get around to fertilizing, I am really attracted to using one of those drum-rollers to dispense dried compost as a top-dressing. That won't burn the grass, although I can't help think that it will also feed the weeds.
What do folks suggest?
Aeration first? Fertilize second? Re-sod?