We've lived in our house since 2008 and the grass in the backyard has always been a problem. For many years there were five large trees in the backyard which provided a lot of shade. The previous owner had them all cut (and didn't have the decency to leave me the wood! ) on the advice of the realtor because it was too dark in the backyard, too many leaves, etc... The grass that was there was very thin and spotty because of the lack of sunlight. It slowly filled in over the course of the next two years or so but never really took hold. Then we got a dog... Between the urine and the ball chasing the grass really took a beating and now we have more mud than grass which is a real PITA most of the year. Now that my little one (the human...lol) is running around I need a yard that will take a beating. I don't really know where to begin, I have read a little about "overseeding" (cutting the existing grass really short, raking out the dead stuff, applying seed) and think that maybe that's the ticket, but I'm wondering about what I should be doing to prep the soil and what kind of seed to use. What should I look for in a grass seed that speaks to durability? I just want a nice thick lawn so that when kids and dogs run around/fall down on it they get covered in grass stains and not mud. I live in New Jersey so the grass will see freezing temps as well blazing heat, but it should get plenty of rain. Any ideas?