Answer: I would suggest you work with your county extension to develop a lawn establishment and maintenance plan. They will help you run basic soil tests to check fertility and pH levels, and based on that, can tell you how best to fertilize and prepare the area for seeding. They should also know the best grass varieties for your local soil and climate so you can seed with those. To reseed just the barest patches you would loosen the soil by raking, then seed by hand, then tamp lightly with a flat board to assure good soil to seed contact. To overseed the entire yard -- which it sounds like you may need to do -- you would use a spreader, either rotary or drop style, to spread the seed. Since you had poor results from the first seeding, I strongly encourage you to work with your extension before you try again. Hopefully you will have better results. Keep in mind that the earlier in spring you can seed, the better so you do not want to delay. Surprisingly though, the best time to start a new lawn is in late summer/early fall so you will have another chance later in the season. Good luck!
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