Answer: Aerating and overseeding should produce an attractive green lawn. Aerators can be rented in most garden centers and the job can be done in a few hours. Leave the plugs on the ground (they'll decompose with water from the sprinkler) and then use a spreader to lay some sand on the grass. The sand will work its way into the holes where the plugs were removed and will help with the compaction problem. After you've laid the sand, overseed the entire lawn and water everything down well. The new seeds should begin sprouting in 7-10 days.
Best wishes with your lawn!
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