Answer: You are on the right track in thinking about the soil first! You might want to look at a basic book on lawns; one I suggest is "Lawncare for Dummies" by Lance Walheim (ISBN 0-7645-5077-2) which contains straightforward information about each of the points you mentioned. You might also want to consult with your local County Extension about the best grass varieties to grow in your area and the best timing for seeding and so on. They should also be able to help you with the soil tests and interpreting the results. I would also suggest you might consider using a ground cover other than grass for part of the area. In some situations, grass is simply unable to compete with a large tree and its roots for light, rain, and nutrients and will never be healthy no matter what you do. Good luck with your lawn!
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