Need a recommendation for new grass...

Hi all...this is my first post here.
I recently moved into my current home, and I've decided that the current yard must be dealt with. After letting it go for a couple of weeks, it's very obvious that I have more than one type of grass--not sure which (I'm new to this).
First things first, I live in the Atlanta, GA area. My front lawn is completely unshaded. The house faces Southwest, so the area directly behind the house gets quite a bit of shade during the day. The backyard is fairly large (by subdivision standards) as I am dead center in the back of a culdesac--it's much bigger than the front yard. I do have trees in the back, but they're all pretty much along the back fence-line, so the center of the yard is wide open. The soil is of the red clay variety.
Now that you know my environment, I'll let you know what I'm looking for in a grass. I want something that's got rather thin leaves, and is very soft to walk on. I've noticed that certain grasses have almost a sharp, stalk-like feel to them when you walk barefoot--very uncomfortable, I don't want that. I also would prefer the deepest, darkest green I can get. Finally, I'd prefer something fairly aggressive that will get rid of the other grass on its own.
A friend recently resodded with Bermuda, and recommended it, but I can't say for sure that's what I want. I saw it right after he'd just mowed, and it didn't look so hot. Partly, he'd let it go too long, and secondly, he'd cut it too short. When the mower went too deep, it left big semi-circular cut marks that were yellow in color. I can't say how it'd look if it were properly maintained.
Maintenance isn't a real big issue to me. Until now, the last time I had to do yard work was when I still lived with my parents and was forced to do so. I'm finding now that it's very relaxing (now that it's MY yard :-) ) and nothing gets work off my mind like firing up the mower and having at it. I'm even thinking of getting a "reel" mower for a really nice finished look.
Thanks for your time, and all suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
~jp
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I'm in Atlanta too, and can offer some advice.
Your backyard sounds like a candidate for either Zoysia (if you get 4+ hours of sun a day) or Fescue if you get less sunlight. Zoysia will crowd out other grasses, Fescue won't. You can plant Fescue right now. Give the yard a heavy raking, then spread a quality Fescue seed. Water 5 minutes a day for 2 weeks and it'll come up very well. But, you need to jump on this project. Your planting season is coming to a close.
Your front yard sounds like a candidate for either Bermuda or Zoysia. Bermuda is deeper green, more drought tolerant, and more aggressive. It may also feel softer to your feet than Zoysia.
I'm a Zoysia fan myself. I like the look and the fact that Zoysia isn't as invasive as Bermuda and can tolerate more shade.
Both Zoysia and Bermuda should probably be planted next May/June. You can seed, sod, or plug both. The sod or plugs will allow you to use the better (hybrid) varieties, but at a higher cost. Bermuda seed will sprout and fill in fairly quickly. Zoysia is slower to take. Plugs take a long time to fill in, and you often end up with a lumpy yard, which is a lot of work to fix. If you have the money, go with the sod, otherwise, go with seed.
There are multiple varieties of Fescue, Zoysia, and Bermuda. Once you choose a species, do some internet research and you can figure out which variety fits your needs best.
Good luck!
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Thanks Kyle...
I believe I have some Bermuda in my yard already. It's in patches, and I believe it's also what my next-door neighbors are using. Some of their grass is invading my front lawn, and I like it ;-)

need to maintain it better than my friend did. Like I said, he'd let it go a bit, and then cut it fairly short when he did cut it. The results were less than spectacular. I think if I take the time to fill in the holes and divots in my yard(s) and mow it regularly with a reel-type mower, I should have a pretty nice, green lawn. My grandfather told me that when he moved into his current house back in the 50's, he used one square of Bermuda sod, sectioned it, and used those sections to plug his bare dirt lawn. Within months he had pretty good coverage, and by the next year, it was a fully developed lawn. I've always appreciated the look and texture of his grass, so I think perhaps Bermuda is what I'll shop for.
I did spend a good deal of time on the back porch today, just watching the yard--really watching the way the sun hit the grass. I believe it gets a lot more sun than I originally suspected, as the sun is much higher in the sky and therefore the house blocks less than I thought. So I think Bermuda would work in the back too. I'd prefer to have the same stuff front and back. And my plans to eventually expand my rear deck will cover up some of the shaded area anyway.
So now, I just need to shop for the "right" Bermuda.
Concerning getting the stuff worked in: Sod will be beyond my budget. I am not opposed to waiting it out and letting nature take its course. So seeding would probably be my best option. Given that Bermuda is rather aggressive, would simply spreading a lot of seed around be my best bet? I'm hoping that in doing so it'd take hold and start killing off the other grass I have.
What kind of prep work should I do before spreading the seed, and after doing so, would the 5 minutes of watering per day apply to that as well?
Thanks again for all your help.
~jp
Kyle Boatright wrote:

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Prep work....
If you have low spots, fill 'em with soil that matches what's in the rest of your yard. If you really want to do it right, you probably want to hit the entire yard with round-up a few weeks before seeding. Otherwise, you'll be fighting the "I have 8 different grasses in my yard" battle for a couple of years. Whether you round up or not, you should cut the existing grass as low as possible before reseeding. Also you should rake the yard to get any debris (thatch, etc) out of the way so you'll get good seed to soil contact. Then, spread seed as recommended on the label, water enough to keep the seed moist, and the Bermuda will take off.
The big thing is that you can't plant Bermuda now. It won't germinate. You will have to wait for next May/June to seed Bermuda. That time of year, you might need to sprinkle twice a day (first thing in the AM, and when you get home from work) to keep the seed moist enough to germinate.
Best of luck.
KB
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