I recently bought my first house in Livingston, NJ - always lived in large cities. Never ever cared for a lawn in my life. My goal is to have plush, green lawn on which my young kids and the rest of my family can enjoy next summer. The total size of my land property is 0.4 acres, split 1/3 - front lawn, and 2/3rds backyard. The front lawn gets a lot of sun and is in decent shape however far from perfect. The grass is nice and green, and there are almost no weeds however overall it is not as dense as I would like it to be. Not plush, either. The backyard is a mess. There are tall trees everywhere surrounding my lot, and there is almost no grass around them - just moss. The areas that do get some sun, have somewhat decent grass, the rest of the areas are a patchy, unhealthy looking mess. There is weed, too. Questions: 1. First I dethatched the backyard with a regular large garden rake like this one http://amzn.to/r26aBs - should I rent a professional tool, or as long as I don't mind spending three hours dethatching, I am ok? Should I get something like this instead? http://amzn.to/oDnIoc I pulled out a LOT of dead brown grass that day 2. I just purchased my first lawn mower - Toro (Honda engine) 20192 Super Bagger based on good reviews on this site - should I bag or mulch in my case? 3. Based on the advice from the local lawn store (I brought them pictures of my lawn to show) they recommended to spread a starter fertilizer kit and apply lime, as well - did both using recommended spreader settings on the bags. Do I need to winterize the lawn with Scotts Winterizer, or do I need to wait until spring, get the soil tested, and go from there? 4. Do I mulch fall leaves, or should I blow them away? 5. Could you recommend special seed for shady areas, or should I simply buy Scott's seed instead? 6. What is your opinion of the (incredibly) expensive EZ seed by Scott's? 7. Any other tips, recommendations? I realize I am asking you for advice while you haven't seen my lawn / results of the soil test - however any advice would be truly appreciated. Thank you all in advance.