Do you ever walk out to your beautiful, clean lawn only to feel brown mushrooms squelching beneath your feet? Are rainy days always followed by the appearance of little toadstools all across your lawn?
You’re not alone! All lawns are prone to mushrooms. Most of them aren’t particularly dangerous. They can still be distressing, especially when they ruin the look of the lawn you spent so much time maintaining.
There’s no need to freak out! We’re gonna tell you everything about mushrooms and how to get rid of them. Let’s get started!
Let’s get back to basics—what even are mushrooms? Well, mushrooms are a kind of fungi. The fungus actually lives deep in the soil, mushrooms are just the part of the fungus that sprout above ground to disperse seeds, much like the fruit on other plants.
If you pick a mushroom and turn it over, you will be able to see its gills. These are full of spores that disperse in the air. The spores travel with the wind and sprout wherever they find suitable conditions. They can be found in various shapes and sizes.
We know you’re probably wondering, ‘Are mushrooms good or bad for my lawn?’. Well, the bottom line is, most mushrooms don’t cause any harm to your lawn. In most cases, a sprinkling of mushrooms usually indicates good soil health.
There are, in fact, hundreds of fungi in the soil of your lawn. Not all of them are visible to the naked eye, and even fewer sprout mushrooms above ground. They feed off the decaying matter in the soil like rotting leaves, dead or dying roots or pieces of bark.
They break down the nutrients from the organic matter and disperse them in the soil. This aids grass growth and maintains fertility.
Mushrooms might be a problem if:
- You have kids or pets in your house. Not all mushrooms are edible and some may be toxic, causing stomach problems if consumed.
- If they grow in a circle on your lawn, they’re probably fairy rings. Fairy rings are a type of fungal infection that can prove very stubborn. Removing them is very difficult. They might start growing back quite soon if you fail to remove their food source.
Now that we know what we’re dealing with, let’s get down to brass tacks. Here’s how to get rid of existing mushrooms from your lawn:
The best method is often the simplest one. Just put on your gardening gloves and pick all the mushrooms you see. If you are a little squeamish about touching them, you can also use a rake or a shovel.
Make sure to pull them from the roots, otherwise, they might just pop back up in a few days. Place them in a sealed plastic bag to prevent the spores from escaping.
There are many fungicides that can be sprayed directly to kill mushrooms. However, if you have kids or pets you might want to avoid harsh chemicals. Always proceed with caution while spraying fungicides.
In this case, dish soap makes for a nice DIY hack. Dish soap can act as a fungicide, provided it reaches down where the fungi are.
Make little holes in the soil around the mushrooms with a screwdriver. Mix one spoon of dish soap in a gallon of water and spray it around the mushrooms. Repeat this process a few times a day and the mushrooms will start to die off soon.
Baking soda can help manage the mushroom growth on your lawn. Though it isn’t a fungicide, it creates an unfavorable environment for the fungus by raising the pH of the soil.
Mix two spoons of baking soda in a gallon of water and let it dissolve completely. Spray it on and around the mushrooms. Soon, you will see a decrease in the infestation. Though it isn’t the most effective method, baking soda is a gentle and safe alternative to dealing with your mushroom problem.
It is ideal if you have kids or pets in the house. However, do not overuse it, as too much of a change in the pH level will start affecting the grass and other plants too.
While getting rid of mushrooms isn’t particularly difficult, you’d be much better off preventing them.
Here’s what you can do to prevent mushrooms from growing on your lawn.
Compacted soil can cause water to just sit on top of the soil instead of getting absorbed. This means that you probably have drainage problems. If the weather is cool, the damp environment provides favorable conditions for the moisture to grow.
Aerating can help with this problem. Two or three times a year, aerate your soil. There are many kinds of lawn aerators. Buy or rent one based on your preferences.
Aerating the soil will allow the soil to absorb the water. It will also make way for airflow, reducing drying time.
Mushrooms feed on organic waste on your lawn. If your pet goes to the bathroom on your lawn, you put off raking the fallen leaves, or old tree stumps are decaying in the soil, all these will feed and nourish the fungus.
You can prevent mushrooms by following a robust cleanup routine. Pick up after your pets if they poop on your lawn, rake up leaves on time, and clear all the debris on your lawn. The fungus will soon starve and you can stop worrying about mushrooms.
Nitrogen fertilizers can help you combat mushrooms effectively. Nitrogen in the soil will help break down organic matter quickly.
Thus, mushrooms won’t have a chance to grow on your lawn. The soil will also get enriched with nutrients from organic matter, helping you maintain a lush lawn.
Fungi love dark and damp environments. Once you fix the drainage problem, all you need is some sunlight to get rid of the mushrooms.
Reduce shady areas wherever possible. Trim or prune plants, trees and hedges to expose the lawn to sunlight and encourage airflow.
Sometimes your turf can accumulate lawn thatch. Thatch is a collection of organic matter like dead grass and roots that haven’t decomposed yet. It accumulates and forms a layer between the grass and the soil below.
Thick layers of lawn thatch can block air and water from reaching the soil. Thatch is usually caused by excessive watering or using too much fertilizer.
Scarifying is the process of removing the layer of lawn thatch. Some people prefer dethatching to remove lawn thatch. Scarifying regularly can help prevent mushrooms by aiding drainage and facilitating airflow.
So there you go! Now you know exactly what to do every time one of those pesky toadstools pops up. Remember, mushrooms aren’t particularly harmful, but it is always safer to go ahead and get rid of them.
Along with removing mushrooms and taking preventative measures, regular lawn maintenance is also great for keeping up soil health and giving your lawn a clean, manicured look.
If it seems too daunting a task or you simply don’t have the time for it, hiring a professional is also a wise decision.