I have a heavily shaded area surrounded by natural areas with large trees. I have tried just about every variety of grass seed is this area but it always fails and turns back to dirt by this time of year. I believe there is to much competition with tree roots for moisture and nutrition and not enough sun. I was told clover might be an option but in reading more on the subject I have found that the shade will be a problem. Any recommendations?
Competition with tree roots is a problem with shallow-rooted trees like maple and spruce. I assume you have tried shade lawn seed mixes and properly irrigate the lawn. Are you ready to switch to shade-loving groundcovers? You don't say where you live but most locales have native plants that do well in difficult conditions. Go to Wildflower.org and "search for plants". There is space to enter your state, the amount of sunlight and general conditions to find the plants most likely to succeed. In addition to pachysandra, there are many shade-loving groundcovers and even shrubs. If you are in a snowy area, think about whether road salt is killing the grass as it appears to be down-slope from the road. Lastly, if you haven't tried testing the soil, do this. There may be an unrecognized nutrient deficiency or other problem that is correctable.