The main alternative to sod that I know of is seed. Early fall (like about now) is a good time to reseed your lawn. Rent a tiller and till everything up. If you have time (depends on how far away first frost is for you), it helps to wait a couple weeks, let all the weed seeds sprout. Then put down a bunch of compost, composted manure, or other soil amendments and till it all again. Sow your seeds, cover them lightly, roll them or walk all over it, to be sure the seeds are in good contact with the soil. Water lightly every day (that it doesn't rain) until the grass has sprouted and then every other day until it is well rooted.