What causes mushrooms in the lawn & How to get rid of them

The subsoil of your lawn hosts a diverse mycelial network of fungi and other organisms. They play an integral and important role in breaking down organic matter so it can decompose back into the soil. Though there are times when the soil conditions are out of balance. Sometimes these imbalances can result in mushrooms blooming up through your turf to appear on your lawn.

While visually unsightly, these lawn mushrooms don’t pose an immediate threat to healthy adults. Though they can be a more serious cause for concern if you have pets or small children who have a bad habit of putting things in their mouths. Especially when you consider that the vast majority of lawn mushrooms are toxic and/or poisonous.

The good news is, that lawn mushrooms are relatively easy to eradicate. If you can’t bear to ignore them or they are a prevalent safety concern, then you can use the following information to get rid of all your lawn mushrooms.

Why Are Mushrooms Growing in My Lawn?

The reality is that mushrooms are just the large, visible fruits of the fungus world. They serve an important reproductive function that a fungus uses to ensure its survival. They do this by releasing microscopic spores on their gills and under the cap that either blow with the wind or travel with small animals that eat them.

If you didn’t have fungi in your soil, organic matter wouldn’t be able to decompose. So, they definitely play a critical role in your lawn’s ecosystem. Without them, leaves or grass clippings would build up rather than decompose.

The point to draw from all this is that while it might be a good thing to get rid of mushrooms that pop up during hot and humid conditions, you don’t want to be too aggressive with trying to eradicate the presence of all fungi in your turf.  and leaves into soil nutrients.

Most of the time, the manifestation of mushrooms at the surface of your lawn is a sign of excess moisture. This might be telling you that you’ve been overwatering your lawn, or simply that the local weather has deposited enough rain to activate the mushroom from the natural beneficial fungi living in the soil.

Early Signs of Mushroom Emergence On A Lawn

Many times browning grass in dark circles or bands will appear in your grass shortly before mushrooms, emerge. The patterns might be followed by half-circles of white mushrooms or puffy balls; the circles often are sometimes called “Fairy Rings.”

Tips For Preventing Mushrooms In Your Lawn

Reducing the risk of mushrooms emerging from the naturally occurring fungal environment of your soil is a lot easier than dealing with the mushrooms directly. This starts with an effective soil moisture management strategy.

Something as simple as installing a rain sensor in your lawn’s irrigation system can help prevent the overwater that is such a common cause of mushroom problems in a yard. The goal is to give your lawn 1-inch of water per week, and absolutely no more than 2 inches from your lawn irrigation system.

You can follow this up by moving lawn furniture and pruning back low vegetation to let natural sunshine balance soil moisture levels.

Aerating your lawn in the spring and again in the fall will also help maintain a natural balance between the aerobic microbes in your lawn and the fungi they share the soil with. It will also promote vigorous grass growth, which further impedes mushroom emergence.  

Clearing out organic material at the surface can also help prevent mushrooms from emerging. Fungi actively feed on decomposing organic matter, from dead tree roots to grass clippings. Discourage it from sticking around after you’ve removed the spore-bearing mushrooms by reducing their food source.

How To Safely Remove Mushrooms From My Lawn

If mushrooms have gotten out of hand and they are growing with reckless abandon on your lawn, then you need to take steps to remove them or at least minimize their presence. Especially if you have pets or small children who are prone to putting things in their mouths.

The concern here is that you don’t want to get too aggressive and resort to harsh fungicide chemicals. While they might kill the mushrooms in the short term these lawn fungicides can also damage your lawn’s delicate fungal, microbial ecology.

Removing Mushrooms By Hand

The good news is, that it’s relatively easy to remove mushrooms by hand. It helps to cut each one with a putty knife or cut them with an old kitchen knife.

Removing Mushrooms With A Lawnmower

If you need to deal with a large area of mushrooms that are too big to remove with a putty knife, you might try simply mowing over the entire area with the lawnmower on the lowest possible deck setting. Just be sure to remove yard mushrooms as soon as you see them sprout. Otherwise, they’ll have just enough time to release spores to plant and grow new mushrooms.

Disposing of Cut Mushrooms

You should never dispose of any cut mushroom in your compost. It’s best to put them in a plastic bag and tie it tightly before discarding them in the trash. If you choose to mow mushrooms over, pick the pieces up and discard them into a bag immediately.

Non-Chemical Ways To Get Rid Of Lawn Mushrooms

You can also create a simple homemade fungicide by mixing five tablespoons of vinegar into a gallon of water and poured into a sprayer. Before spraying, make sure cut down all the mushrooms. This will prevent reemergence without having to resort to chemical fungicides.

Can I Eat Lawn Mushrooms?

While there might be a few rare varieties of mushrooms that manifest in lawns that are indeed edible, it is still not a good idea. Unless you are a mycelial expert, the chances are better than not that the mushrooms are poisonous.

If you have pets or small children, it is best to remove the mushrooms before curiosity gets the better of them. It can also serve as a “Teachable Moment” about not putting things in their mouth without asking first.

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