Mushrooms are a common find in lawns and gardens, but they can be an unsightly nuisance. There are both edible and poisonous types of mushrooms that can pose health risks to humans if consumed. Mushrooms also have the potential to damage plants, either by killing them or by causing growth deformities. Some types of mushrooms release toxins into the soil that inhibit plant growth nearby.
If you want your yard looking its best, it’s important to know how to identify mushrooms and what steps you need to take when you find one growing on your property. Continue reading below for information on how to remove any unwanted mushrooms from your yard or garden.
Just What Are Mushrooms?
Mushrooms, which are also called toadstools, are actually not a unique plant on their own. They are what’s called the “fruiting body” of a fungus, which house the spores (and release them to propagate themselves and spread) and the flesh that protrudes from the rest of the fungus. Thus, if you see a mushroom growing from the ground, what you’re seeing is the fruit of an organism that exists within the soil below ground level.
The name mushroom can be found many centuries back, and they were never precisely defined, so no one knows exactly what it means. This is also why there is only one word for both poisonous and edible mushrooms.
There are many different types of mushrooms and fungi that grow all over the world. They have different colors, different shapes and sizes, different forms, and different classifications, like bolete, puffball, stinkhorn, and morel mushrooms.
However, the most commonly-pictured mushroom is the white button mushroom (the one pictured above), or Agaricus bisporus. This is the one commonly consumed in dishes all over the world. This type of mushroom does grow in lawns and gardens across the United States and many other parts of the world, but it is not the only one.
We will help you identify what type of mushrooms you might have, as well as whether they’re edible or dangerous, as well as how to eradicate them.
Where and How Mushrooms Grow
You might have seen mushrooms sprout in your lawn seemingly within a single day or overnight. While they can expand rapidly by absorbing high amounts of water, they usually take at least a few days to form a fully sized mushroom body.
Initially mushrooms start as a tiny fruit body, and this is referred to as the “pin” stage. They then expand a small amount into their “button” stage. It is at this stage that they can start to expand quickly due to pulling in water through their roots and outer layer. So, you may not have noticed the mushrooms before their water absorption, which makes it seem like the sprout within hours, but they indeed grew days before.
Some species of mushrooms do actually grow fully overnight, and then might disappear by the late afternoon of a hot day. Other species take many days or weeks to grow. Additionally, even though mushroom fruits are short-lived, their fungus from which they sprout can be very old and very large. For example, there is a colony in the northwest United States that is over 2,000 years old and 2,000 acres.
Mushrooms prefer moist soil, where they often grow rapidly after a rainfall, as well as areas with lots of manure or compost and organic fertilizer.
Mushrooms reproduce by releasing spores from the top section of their fruit body into the air, so if you have an abundant amount of mushrooms on your property it is likely that they will return next year as well unless you get rid of them first.
How You Can Identify Mushrooms
To identify whether or not you have mushrooms growing on your lawn or garden it is important to know what kind of mushroom you’re dealing with because some varieties are safe to eat while others could make you sick if eaten raw.
Mushrooms have a number of different species, but they all share some common traits. Mushrooms generally start as small bumps in the soil or mulch before growing into large stem-like structures with caps at the top; these look like open umbrellas. These caps usually appear flat when young but become more round as they age.
In addition, while the most common mushroom varieties are white, many mushrooms tend to be colorful, ranging from reds to yellows to browns depending on what type they are. Some types may also have spots or other markings that vary from species to species.
Should You Be Concerned About Mushrooms?
Many people love mushrooms for their beauty and unique shapes. Unfortunately, they are not always good to have in your yard or garden! Mushrooms can be quite harmful to plants if you do not get rid of them quickly.
Edible vs poisonous species of mushrooms are often very difficult to differentiate. There is no one-size-fits-all definition for “toxic mushrooms.” Neither are there any unique characteristics by which all edible mushrooms may be identified.
Can You Eat The Mushrooms You Find In Your Yard?
Mushrooms are used in cooking and can be very tasty when cooked properly. There are many different types of edible mushrooms, such as white button, portabella, oyster, shiitake and morel.
The first step to take when you find mushrooms in your backyard is determining whether the mushrooms are poisonous or edible. However, this is a very tricky undertaking and should only be done by an expert. If no one else is available to help you, buy a mushroom guide book or type in the specific characteristics of your backyard mushrooms online and compare pictures.
If there is ever any doubt as to what kind of mushroom you have in your garden, err on the side of caution and do not eat them.
How to Remove Mushrooms From Your Yard
There are multiple ways to remove mushrooms from your yard, depending on the size of the infestation. We’ll cover both organic and chemical options for how to eliminate them.
Via Organic Methods
Take a shovel and insert it into the ground next to the mushroom. Twist the shovel so that half of the mushroom is in the air. Next, take a couple inches worth of grass or dirt and cover up what’s left of the mushroom. Make sure you do not leave any part of the mushroom outside in the open. Repeat this process a few times until all mushrooms in your yard have been removed.
Exercise extreme caution when removing mushrooms from your yard because they can cause skin irritation, breathing problems and digestive issues if consumed even by accident. Also, dispose of all organic debris in the garbage, do not compost any removed mushroom pieces.
Via Chemical Methods
A solution of fungicide (which is an herbicide specifically used for killing mushrooms) is the best option for you if you want to kill the mushroom infestation with chemicals. Spray the fungicide on the protruding mushroom fruit bodies and they will start to decay within days. Repeat this process as often as it says in the directions.
However, while fungicides will kill off the mushrooms you see above ground in your lawn, they will not necessarily kill all of the fungus root system underground, so make sure you combine fungicide use with other mushroom-removal methods.
Can You Prevent Mushrooms From Growing in Your Yard?
To give your lawn the best opportunity for healthy grass and plants and to prevent mushrooms before the germinate, take these precautions.
Make sure your yard gets enough sunlight. Mushrooms are less likely to grow in direct sunlight because the heat dries them out, so by keeping your lawn in full sun, you have a much better chance of keeping mushrooms away. Also, aerate your soil regularly as that keeps it less moist and compact.
Avoid using mulch. Although I love how it looks and smells, many types of mulches – especially fresh mulch – are home to fungi, which can cause the growth of mushrooms in your yard.
Do not over-water your lawn. Mushrooms thrive in moist, damp conditions. By keeping natural moisture levels low, you reduce the likelihood of mushrooms growing.
Finally, be sure your grass is healthy. In the same vein as over-watering, if you have a lot of dead or dying grass, mushrooms are more likely to grow in it because of the decomposed organic matter that’s left behind. Keeping your yard healthy and lush will naturally prevent mushrooms from germinating.
Mushrooms are fungi that grow in the ground, typically after rain. They can be found all around your property and may even make it into your yard! As we’ve explained above, there are a number of ways to get rid of mushrooms from your lawn.
If you’ve been finding mushrooms in your yard and want to know how to get rid of them, we hope this article has helped. Do you have any questions about these helpful tips? Let us know by commenting below or contacting our team for more information. We hope this blog post has been informative and we look forward to hearing from you again soon!