Answer: When a lawn needs to be completely renovated, it is important to begin with running some basic soil tests to try to find out why the original lawn failed. Based on the results, add amendments as indicated and prepare the soil. Importing top soil is not usually recommended, but good thorough soil preparation is important to success, as is selecting a suitable grass seed variety for your location.
Before you begin, you might want to look at a book or two about lawns from beginning through establishment and then ongoing maintenance -- each step is important to achieve a good quality lawn that remains healthy over time. A book I particularly like becuase it is step by step and very straightforward is "Lawn Care for Dummies" by Lance Walheim, Dummy Press, ISBN 0-7645-5077-2. It goes into soil preparation very carefully.
Your local county extension (560-4150) should also be able to help you with the soil tests and getting started.
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