Answer: You might be surprised how the lawn will green up if it is watered regularly. That's the easiest and most inexpensive way to keep it from being a fire hazard. As for the backyard, rototilling can be labor intensive, but can result in a beautiful lawn. So if you want to invest time and money in renovating the backyard of a rental (perhaps you can negotiate with the owner for a discount on your rent), rototilling, raking out the debris, leveling the area, seeding it and then putting it on a regular watering, feeding and mowing schedule are the steps to take. Since the front yard is greening up since you started watering, it can probably be overseeded this fall. This is simply a matter of broadcasting seeds over the existing grass. Grass seeds usually sprout in 7-10 days if kept well watered and can usually survive foot traffic about 4 weeks after planting.
Good luck in your new home!
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