Every now and again, you might come across mushrooms growing in your lawn. Fortunately, this isn’t as serious an issue as you might think.
In fact, these mushrooms are probably helping your grass.
The mushroom is just the top of the fungi.
Firstly, it is important to note that a mushroom is just the top of a larger fungi that is growing inside your soil. You can kick the mushrooms, mow them down or even cut them one-by-one. However, this will not kill the fungi that lies beneath the surface.
What causes mushrooms to grow on lawns?
Mushrooms will appear if there is organic matter in your soil that needs to be broken down. For example, a clump of dead plant matter may end up in your lawn after you’ve laid down some new top soil. That, or one of your pets may have pooped there at some point.
If you’ve used decorative bark chips, mulch or compost in the past, then there’s a chance that a piece of organic material from one of these managed to embed itself in the soil of your lawn. For all you know, you might have even stepped on it in the past without realizing and helped to bury it!
Thatch (dead grass) can also provide the fungi with an organic food source.
More often than not, mushrooms will appear in areas of the lawn that are prone to water logging. This is because they love moisture. In some cases, you will find that these mushrooms only appear after long spells of rain.
Although mushrooms do love the shade, it isn’t 100% necessary for them to grow. I have personally come across cases of them growing in areas that receive hours of sunlight!
Another important point to note is that mushrooms prefer healthy soil. If a lawn is lacking in nutrients, they will find it far more difficult to grow. Therefore, you shouldn’t take their presence as a sign that there is something wrong with your soil. In fact, you should take it as the opposite.
Are lawn mushrooms good or bad?
More often than not, lawn mushrooms are actually good. This is because they carry out a number of important services that will benefit your soil.
Firstly, they help to break down organic matter so that it can be used by your lawn. You can think of the fungi as a mamma bird that breaks down food and then feeds it to her hatchlings. This fungi is feeding on a “pollutant” in your lawn that shouldn’t be there.
Secondly, the underground roots of the fungi, which are called hyphae, will push themselves through the soil. This can help to break up soil compaction and increase water infiltration. It can also help your soil to retain moisture.
All of these “services” will ultimately benefit your grass. This is why you should consider mushrooms as a friend instead of an enemy. They are a vital part of the ecosystem.
How to get rid of mushrooms in your lawn.
In most cases, the fungi that the mushrooms are growing out of will die off as soon as the organic material in your soil has been broken down.
If you are worried that your kids or pets might eat the mushrooms, then you can purchase a fungicide at your local garden center. However, it is likely that the fungicide will only be a short-term fix. It may not prevent the mushrooms from reappearing in the future if the organic matter is still there and the soil conditions are ripe for growth.
Improving drainage to the soil is a better long-term solution. This can be done by aerating the soil with a pitch fork or preferably, with an aeration machine that rips up plugs of soil out of the ground. Another alternative is to build a drainage system into the lawn.
Dethatching or scarifying your lawn can also help to deprive the mushrooms of a food source. By dethatching your lawn, you are removing dead grass, leaves, overcrowded roots and other organic material that fungi likes to feed on.
If you have recently removed bushes or trees, then it is possible that some of their dead roots are still present in the soil. These roots may be the cause of your mushroom problem. Therefore, you will have to locate the roots and dig them up.
Reducing shade can also help. This can be done by removing overhanging tree branches and other obstructions.
If you find yourself in a situation where the fungi is stubborn and mushrooms have completely taken over your lawn, then you might need to start all over again. Unfortunately, this will involve replacing your soil and planting new grass seed.
In the vast majority of cases, lawn mushrooms are your friend, not your enemy. The fungi that causes them has a specific job to do. If their presence aren’t a concern for you, then you should just sit back and let the fungi do its work. Your lawn will thank you for it.