by Maureen Wise, on October 6, 2020
Mushrooms often invade our lawns in Autumn after a rain. They can appear very suddenly, even overnight. And frequently, en masse.
When invaded like this, you may feel a bit better knowing what kind of mushrooms are visiting your kingdom. Download iNaturalist or the Book of Mushrooms apps to try to identify your mushrooms. Even if do you ID them, do not eat them. Most mushrooms, while not totally poisonous, are going to give you a bad stomach ache and will not make you see psychedelic flowers. And some mushrooms are poisonous! Do be very wary of eating mushrooms!
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi in the soil. Typically mushrooms are a result of some kind of decomposing wood in the soil, often old or dead tree roots.
Mushrooms are usually an indication of what’s going on in the soil. Mushrooms are caused by mycelium fungus and are not harmful to your lawn but are not very pretty to look at. As you know, bacteria live in soil and mushrooms gain their sustenance from bacteria and fungi. They typically thrive on rotting wood and also on moist, shady soil. Most of the time, mushrooms are an indication of happy soil with thriving, good bacteria, and rich nutrients. The job of all mushrooms is to help decompose rotting material and they will usually wilt and die in just a few days. The easiest thing to do is not worry about them: you go on with your business and they will do their own thing and die off quickly.
How to Get Rid of Mushrooms
If however, you have a lot of mushrooms and really want to get rid of them, we do have some suggestions.
First, pull the mushrooms out. They propagate via spores and so getting rid of the above-ground fruiting body will eliminate how the spores are sent out. Do not put them in your compost - this is one thing we encourage you to send to the landfill! Dispose of your mushroom collection in a sealed bag in the trash. This really may be all you need to do. Mushrooms come and go easily and so if you don’t see more mushrooms soon, you’re done!
However, if you do find that you keep finding mushrooms popping up, there is more you can do.
One reason mushrooms may be extra happy in your lawn (besides your thriving bacteria) is that you have excess thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass, leaves, and decaying stuff right above the soil of your lawn. It helps build healthy soil but can also get too thick. Aerating your lawn to break up and remove thatch and also add oxygen to help both the soil and the grass grow better. Aerating will also help with Compacted Soil, which is another common cause of mushrooms. We suggest Core aeration or Liquid aeration. Core (or physical) aeration pokes small holes in your lawn with a roller or spikes clipped to your shoes. Liquid aeration uses a solvent that will do the job for you.
Mushrooms also thrive in moist areas. Have you been watering too much? Do you often have standing water on your lawn? You may need to address ponding low areas and change your watering schedule. Additionally, pick up dog waste and dropped leaves regularly to reduce decaying material in your lawn. And lastly, mushrooms like deep shade. You might try to reduce shade in your yard by trimming branches or moving or removing solid fences.
Do you have mushrooms in your lawn? Have you been able to identify what they are and do you have a different tip to get rid of them than we provided? Let us know how we can help!