If you’ve ever had mushrooms growing in your lawn, you’ve no doubt wondered how to get rid of them. This is especially true after heavy rains when it seems mushrooms magically appear overnight. Fortunately, most of these fungi won’t harm your yard.
However, if you’re hoping to get rid of mushrooms in your yard, the news isn’t as good. It’s almost impossible to eliminate mushrooms, and it’s not always a good idea. Fungus is an essential part of fertile soil, and if you remove it, many of your plants could be in trouble.
Mushroom fungi break down organic materials then convert it into essential nutrients for your backyard plants. Mushrooms are the reproductive (fruiting) structures of different types of fungi. They contain then disperse spores, allowing the fungi to reproduce.
Now that you have a new appreciation for mushrooms, let’s talk about the most common types you’re likely to see in your yard.
There are many types of mushrooms in the Agaricus genus, and they’re common in lawns throughout the United States. Most have white caps with brown gills underneath, and they look a lot like the common or button mushrooms we buy in stores. While some are edible, others are poisonous. Consult with a mushroom expert before eating them.
Fairy Rings Mushrooms
These look like they belong in a fairy tale or wooded glen rather than in your backyard. In European folklore, they were believed to be places where fairies, pixies or elves danced and played. Many cultures also believed it was dangerous for humans to enter a fairy ring.
The science behind these features is a little less magical. You’ll see them most often in grassy spots that were once wooded. The rings begin at a central spot, like a tree stump or buried piece of wood. This food source allows the fungi beneath the soil to thread outward in a circle, producing a ring of mushrooms on the surface. Some of these mushrooms provide rich nutrients for the soil, causing the grass inside the ring to grow taller. Others make it harder for water to get inside the ring, so the grass tends to die.
Inky Cap, Shaggy Mane or Lawyer’s Wig Mushrooms
Theses distinctive mushrooms go by several names including Inky Cap, Shaggy Mane or Lawyer’s Wig Mushrooms. The cap of these mushrooms turns from white to black as it matures, then turns into an inky goo after it releases its spores.
They’re easy to spot with their elongated shapes and shaggy caps. Known by their scientific name, Coprinus comatus, the shaggy ink cap, lawyer’s wig, or shaggy mane mushroom is a common fungus often seen growing in lawns.
Puffballs Mushrooms in Lawn
These white ball-shaped mushrooms usually stay on the smaller side in your lawn. They’re creamy-white inside and out until maturity when they turn yellow with dark spores on the inside. Some varieties are edible and others are poisonous. It’s a good idea to pull them if you have pets or young kids.
Stinkhorn Fungi Mushrooms
These finger-shaped mushrooms have a tip covered in a stinky slime that smells like rotting garbage. This slime attracts bugs, which then spread the spores.
If you don’t want fungus among your grass plants, you can take steps to limit mushroom growth in your lawn.
- Mow over them. While this won’t get rid of the fungus in the soil, it will temporarily take care of the mushrooms.
- Get rid of material that’s likely to rot, like wood and leaves. Fungi feed on these materials, so removal will make it harder for mushrooms to survive.
- Removing thatch and aerating your lawn will improve drainage and can limit mushroom growth.
- Let more sunshine in by trimming trees or thinning branches in shady spots. That will reduce the volume of wet, shady ground where mushrooms thrive.
Fungicides aren’t recommended because they kill beneficial microbes in the soil, and your lawn and garden could suffer.
Many Mushrooms are Poisonous!
If you’ve decided to embrace mushrooms as a sign of healthy soil beneath your lawn, your next thought might be, “Why not throw them in my salad?” Unless the mushrooms were found in the fresh produce section of your supermarket, keep them OUT of the salad!
Eating the wrong wild mushrooms can cause everything from mild stomach distress to liver failure and even death.
While mushrooms aren’t the worst lawn problem possible, they can be a nuisance. Now that you know more about the mushrooms growing in your yard, you can take the next steps to manage them.