newbie question...

I just moved into a new home and have a large lawn area in the backyard....no lawn yet. Basically it's about 40% grass and the rest weeds and dead patches of dirt. Without starting from scratch today, or laying sod ( which we want to do next season...whenever that is..) is there anything that i can do with what i have right now to improve it???
Thanks for any help...
J.
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Where do you live?
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I'm in northern california....sunny through the summer everyday....
thx...
J.

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