Mushrooms in lawns can be seen as an interesting, natural addition or as a complete eye sore. There are many different varieties and colours, with some being edible and others having poisonous qualities. If having mushrooms suddenly appear across your lawn is not your idea of nature at its best, there are a few simple steps to take in order to remove them and assist in deterring further growth.
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 lawn. The ideal growing conditions for mushrooms are normally moist, humid and shady.
Mushrooms are actually the fruiting bodies of fungi that produce and spread spores to create new mushrooms, with rooting systems called mycelia which exist underground, with the ability to grow up to half a mile per day. Many believe that the presence of mushrooms in their lawns is a sign of bad health, however it actually means the opposite as they are unable to grow in unhealthy, nutrient deprived soil.
Knowing why mushrooms are growing in a lawn is the key to preventing it.
Image credit: Lawn Science South Manchester
Fungi grows 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 releases 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.
The best way to prevent mushrooms from growing in a lawn is to monitor and control the conditions they need to thrive in the garden. For those that have already started to grow, pull them out from the base as soon as they appear in the lawn. This will reduce the spores’ ability to disperse into the environment and spread via wind and animals, whilst also eliminating the risk of children or animals ingesting poisonous or harmful species.
|Image credit: HGTV Gardens|
As mentioned fungi consumes organic matter, therefore any readily available food sources for the fungi should be limited or if possible, completely removed. To do this rake up leaves, twigs, grass cuttings and any other waste materials as soon as they appear on the lawn.
If your garden has a thick layer of thatch (interwoven dead grass between the grass and soil) this can also contribute to growth, therefore dethatching would be recommended. Some waste materials will be hidden below the soils surface such as wood and large tree roots. These areas can be dug up and waste materials removed before adding fresh soil.
Short grass dries faster than tall grass reducing the moisture available for mushrooms to grow. Mow the lawn regularly and limit the water applied to the soil. If your garden is prone to retaining excess moisture an underground drainage system may be required.
Before mowing it is essential to remove any existing mushrooms, raking away any remnants to prevent spores from being spread during mowing. Aeration can also be performed to improve drainage and airflow which helps to keep the soil and grass dry. This can be done mechanically or with a garden fork. 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.
As a short term fix either a fungicide or nitrogen fertilizer can be applied, however it is likely the mushrooms will reappear later on if the original cause for their growth is not corrected. For gardens that are infested, with the majority of the lawn being affected by mushrooms, it is recommended to start from scratch. If this is your chosen option, remove the existing turf and dig up any roots or waste materials beneath, lay fresh soil, plant grass seed and fertilise as necessary.
Each of these methods will assist in creating your perfect mushroom free lawn, just remember to monitor the conditions in your garden to prevent them from coming back!