Every now and then, you might come across mushrooms growing on your lawn. Fortunately, this isn’t as serious an issue as you might think.
In fact, these mushrooms are probably helping your soil.
The mushroom is just the top of the fungus.
Firstly, it is important to note that a mushroom is just the top of a larger fungus 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 fungus that lies beneath the surface.
What causes them to grow on lawns?
Mushrooms can appear if there is organic matter in your soil.
For example, a clump of dead plant matter might have become stuck in your lawn after you laid down some new top soil. That, or one of your pets may have pooped there at some point.
If you used decorative bark chips, mulch, or compost in the past, then there’s a chance that some of it managed to embed itself in the soil.
For all you know, you unknowingly helped to “bury it” by stepping on it.
Thatch and dead grass can also provide the fungus with an organic food source.
More often than not, mushrooms will appear in areas of the lawn that are prone to waterlogging. This is because they love moisture. In some cases, you will find that these mushrooms will only appear after long spells of rain.
Although mushrooms do love the shade, it isn’t 100% necessary for them to grow. Personally, I have come across cases where they were growing in areas that received hours of sunlight.
Another point worth mentioning 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 probably take it as the opposite.
Are mushrooms bad for your lawn?
More often than not, lawn mushrooms are actually a good thing. This is because they carry out a number of important services that will benefit your soil.
Firstly, they help your lawn by breaking down organic matter.
Basically, this fungus is like a momma bird that breaks down food and then feeds it to her hatchlings.
Secondly, the underground roots of the fungus, which are called hyphae, will push themselves through the soil. This can help to break up compaction and increase water infiltration. It can also help your soil retain moisture.
All of these “services” will ultimately benefit your lawn.
This is why you should think of mushrooms as a friend instead of an enemy. They are a vital part of the ecosystem.
How to get rid of them.
In most cases, the fungus that the mushrooms are growing from 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.
In other words, it will not prevent the mushrooms from reappearing in the future. This is especially true if the organic matter is still there and the soil conditions are ripe for growth.
Improving drainage is a better long-term solution. This can be done by aerating the soil with a pitch fork or, preferably, an aeration machine that rips up plugs of soil out of the ground.
Another solution is to build a drainage system into the lawn.
Dethatching your lawn can also help to deprive them of a food source. By dethatching your lawn, you are removing dead grass, leaves, overcrowded roots and other organic material that the fungus likes to feed on.
If you have recently removed bushes or trees from your garden, then it is possible that some of their dead roots are still present in the soil. These roots might be the cause of your mushroom problem.
If that is the case, then you will need to locate these 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 fungus 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 current soil and planting new grass seed.
They’re not your enemy.
In the vast majority of cases, lawn mushrooms are your friend, not your enemy. The fungus that causes them has an important job to do.
If their presence isn’t a concern for you, then you should ignore them.
Your lawn will thank you for it.