Good call from an economic standpoint–starting a lawn from seed is much cheaper than sod. You can either use an herbicide to kill everything already there and rent a sod-cutter to take it all out, or you can hack away with a flat-bladed shovel to clear it up. You’ll want to use a tiller to break up the compacted soil next, and then test the pH of the soil. Then you can till in fertilizer and “soil conditioner” or compost. Levelling the soil can be done with a rake and a roller (rented.) Using a seed spreader, spread the seed. Then rake the soil lightly over the seed and roll it again.
Now you’ll just need to water lightly until the lawn establishes itself.
If you want to get really eco-friendly about it, though, I suggest checking out “Food Not Lawns!” an organization dedicated to replacing resource-intensive lawns with gardens across the U.S.
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