What are Mushrooms?
All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungus and appear above ground when the conditions are at their optimum. This is usually when conditions are warm and humid, or cool and damp. Mushrooms will have a cap and a spore-bearing surface (gills) that it will use to disperse spores and spread.
Identify where mushrooms might grow in your lawn
The first step is to determine the main cause for the mushrooms growing, whether it is in an isolated area of the garden or covering the entire length of the lawn. The ideal growing conditions for mushrooms are normally moist, humid and shady. Knowing why mushrooms are growing in a lawn is the key to preventing it.
Fungi grow in criss-cross formations both below the soil and across its surface, consuming decaying organic waste material such as fallen leaves, twigs, old grass cuttings, animal waste, buried wood, tree stumps, and dead or dying tree roots. By recycling this organic matter, the fungi release essential and beneficial nutrients into the soil assisting in other plant growth.
If there is excess moisture in the soil either caused by over-irrigation or poor drainage. Especially with areas covered in shade, mushrooms will be able to thrive as these are perfect conditions for them to grow. The more food sources available to the fungi (organic waste material), the larger they will grow.
The most important thing to remember is mushrooms indicate a healthy lawn and do not cause harm or disease. However, they can alter the cosmetic look of a garden which is not always welcomed.
Therefore there are a few simple methods to safely remove them.
Getting Rid of Mushrooms
When mushrooms pop up, the best way to get rid of them is to walk around and break them off by hand.
While you could simply mow over them, this would leave the broken mushroom pieces scattered about the yard. And which could be dangerous for children and pets since some species of mushrooms are poisonous.
Make sure you wear gloves when working with the mushrooms, just in case your skin is sensitive to their oils.
Mowing the Lawn
Mow the lawn regularly and limit the amount of water applied to the lawn. Short grass dries out faster than tall grass, reducing the moisture that mushrooms need to grow.
Make sure all mushrooms are pulled up and pieces are raked away before mowing so that the lawn-mower doesn’t throw mushroom spores across the lawn, creating an even greater problem.
Aerate the Lawn
Perform aeration to improve drainage and airflow which helps to keep the soil and grass dry. This can be done mechanically or with a garden fork.
Eliminate Waste Materials
Rake up leaves, sticks and grass clippings as soon as they appear on your lawn. Fungi feed on decaying matter, so eliminating food sources helps to eliminate mushroom growth.
Consider dethatching your lawn as well, especially if your grass has a thick layer of thatch, the layer of interwoven dead grass between the grass and soil.
Addressing the Shade
Another key ingredient for mushroom growth is shade. Cut back any overhanging branches, limbs or other obstructions to allow sunlight to reach as far as possible across all areas of the garden.
If the shade is generated by a shed or fence, thereʼs not much you can do outside of moving the fence. Just do your best to keep the grass short (so the grass does not provide even more shade), and follow the tips above to reduce organic matter and moisture availability.
Things You Will Need
- Ammonium sulfate
- Digging tools
- Clean soil
- Grass seed
Fungi and the mushrooms that grow from them are essential to the natural process of decay needed to create fertile soil. They pose no direct threat to the lawn, so if you can live with them, there’s no need to worry about eradicating lawn mushrooms.
Contrary to popular belief, applying fungicide or lime to the lawn has little to no effect on mushroom growth. Fungicides don’t penetrate the soil deeply enough to kill the mycelia and many products formerly labeled for mushroom eradication are now illegal.
It’s also believed that lime sweetens the soil, raising the pH level in the soil to inhibit mushroom growth, but mushrooms grow in acid and alkaline soils.
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