My kentucky bluegrass lawn came out of last winter in poor shape. I don't know why. However it seems to be flourishing now and repairing itself with what I believe is rhizome growth.

Grass filling in

Even though it looks pretty grim, the bare areas are filling in rapidly. I'm looking for ways to encourage that even more. Special kind of fertilizer perhaps. We live in the Denver metro area. Any ideas?


  • Location: near Denver, CO It is not a monocrop. The sod is "Colorado Blue" from gvt.net.
    – user7419
    Jul 13 '18 at 18:08
  • Location: near Denver, CO It is not a monocrop. The sod is "Colorado Blue" from gvt.net. I fertilize in the Spring and Fall with a 20-5-5 3Fe mixture. I let the grass grow to 4"" than cut to 3". I water when the grass appears dry (about every 3 or 4 days here when it's hot) except for the bare areas shown I water those everyday to encourage growth, and it appears to be working.
    – user7419
    Jul 13 '18 at 18:20

If you want to regrow grass quickly there's two things that I know about from my studying of ranching:
Let the grass grow long (i.e. 1-2 feet), then cut it short (i.e. 2-3 inches). This will force the roots to send up new shoots, and thicken up as it's trying to keep all of its roots alive.
Incorporate specialized fungi:

  • King Stropharia will take the nutrients and move them to the roots while breaking down the decaying plant material on the ground quickly see: Permaculture with a Mycological Twist
  • Oyster mushrooms are known to take care of things like oil spills (which will kill grass like what you're looking at) see: The petroleum problem
  • 1
    Growing the grass that long will cause much more than 1/3 to be removed at one mowing. Very stressful to the crop. When organic material is broken down it is broken down and decomposed using Nitrogen for energy for the decomposers. There is no organism that will 'provide nutrients' to plants other than us humans. The top growth FEEDS the roots via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the ONLY way 'food' is made for plants. The only way. Keeping the top growth vigorous is: height after mowing, fertilizer, aeration via plugs and watering only when the blades stay down.
    – stormy
    Jul 13 '18 at 3:01
  • Hey, I am open, I hate the term permaculture. It is an oxymoron. Culture means being taken care of 24/7. Permanent is just wrong. Not happening. Really need a better label. Seriously. I think the more one understands about all of the variables in growing plants for our pleasure our food the better one can use the basic knowledge to make the best of our gardens. Artificial. Touched by humans is artificial. Fungi, bacteria are fantastic life forms to know and understand but fungi is not the end all be all, by no means. It is but part of this enormous world of plants we barely get.
    – stormy
    Jul 13 '18 at 3:12

In no way is fungus making or breaking a lawn bed. You've had another not so nice fungus such as snow mold that has decimated chunks of your lawn over the winter. Is your lawn just one type of cool season grass seed? Kentucky and that is it? There is a reason grass seed is a combination of species.

Forget rhizomes and stuff, your lawn needs to be raked. The dead debris raked up and disposed of in your compost pile. Re seed with a mix heavy on blue grass but not pure bluegrass. The live grasses look almost over fertilized. What have you fertilized with? How established was your lawn? Where is it you live? Did you happen to use any crane fly control last year? Any other pesticides?

Maybe you should use pure Kentucky Blue Grass mixture if that is what your lawn was. Ugh. Never heard of monoculture seed mixes for cool season lawns. The debris needs to be removed. I'd even take a weed wacker and wack the debris away exposing the soil, fruffing the soil and then reseeding, watering the new seed shallowly many times per day, whatever it needs to keep the seed bed moist where the seed is germinating. If you allow it to dry out, it dies.

I am thinking that maybe you over fertilized last fall? High nitrogen during the fall causes thin leaves, susceptible to disease such as snow mold and other maladies of over fertilized for winter lawns. The dark green of the surviving grasses tell me something is off with the fertilizer.

Tell us what your fertilizer regime has been, is this truly a monocrop of Blue Grass, how do you water your lawn? Aeration once per year will be critical by pulling plugs of soil out of the bed to disintegrate where they fall.

This has nothing to do with rhizomes. Just need to tweak your maintenance practices. To include mowing no lower than 3"...3 1/2 inches is far better. Watering only when you see your foot prints and watering at least 4" deep. Then allowing the soil to dry out before watering again. When you walk on your lawn and see your foot prints of bent blades of grass stay down, that is when you water again and not before.

Training you grasses to be drought tolerant requires this deep watering and only watering when you see your foot prints stay down.

Right now you need to rake up that dead grass, I'd use a weedwacker, then rake, then dispose of all debris, always bag your clippings, fertilizer program of at least 4 applications (we can discuss this later)...per season. Sharp sharp blades. Get your lawn mower raised by your mower fix it place, that grass has to be no lower than 3"! Mowed once per week minimum. Bag you clippings. That last application of fertilizer in the fall has to be lower in nitrogen than the Phosphorus and Potassium. Do you know your lawn bed's pH?

Reseed. Do not use peat moss, too acidic for lawns. I would roll with a water filled roller after seeding using a rotary seeder, not throwing by hand. Keep moist, when your lawn is 4" then mow it to 3". After the first mowing of your baby grasses then you will need to fertilize the entire lawn lightly. Balanced NPK.

Now is the time to only water when you see your footprints. At first it will happen earlier. A mature trained lawn will only need once per week watering at 1" per week. Saves big bucks I kid you not.

  • mono crop grasses are bad because the nutrients different "grasses" provide are like fertilizers for each other, and help each other grow better. use a diverse crop that does different jobs in the ecosystem. With a proper "cover crop mix" for a lawn you don't need to waste money on fertilizing, and it will be permanent. Jul 13 '18 at 3:21
  • Plants are consumers not producers of chemistry for other plants, soil. Wasting money on fertilizer? Small amount for one thing. To imagine never adding chemistry for your plants is to me, insane. Us humans will never ever be able to be a part of any ecosystem. Cover crops do NOT add critical chemistry for crops. Great for tilth, for holding onto moisture a bit longer, adds great drainage, stuff for the decomposers to decompose...(decomposers USE nitrogen to do their job)...but you better believe that we humans are responsible for adding chemistry to our artificial gardens. Or fail. hug
    – stormy
    Jul 13 '18 at 6:50
  • watch a Ray Archuletta from NRCS video on how plants interact. I'm sure he will say that some plants consume some things and others produce those things otherwise they wouldn't be in the soil. Jul 13 '18 at 13:05
  • I shall, BT...thanks. Our 'ecosystems' are artificially produced thus they are not self perpetuating. Fertilizer is critical for our artificial 'ecosystems'. Plants do not provide fertilizer to each other. Grass seed mixes contain at least 4 or 5 different species to make a more substantial crop able to handle different conditions for more chance of success. They do not fertilize each other at all. 'Nutrients' are stored in the biomass. That biomass gets removed all the 'nutrients' go with it. If you allow the clippings to decompose, the decomposers use all the Nitrogen doing that job.
    – stormy
    Jul 13 '18 at 20:20
  • Was able to watch a bit of Ray Archuletta and half of what he says I agree with...the other half not at all. Weird. BT, do you understand that in nature soil does NOT have the necessary ingredients to grow thriving plants? There is a reason for this, it is to not allow over population. That would kill an entire ecosystem. I am into soil and soil life and plants so very much to think there are better ways to encourage healthier growth, maximize crop production...ain't happening. I am listening but I am not hearing anything that makes what I am doing any better. Ray is charismatic...
    – stormy
    Jul 14 '18 at 0:28

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