If there’s one thing lawn purists don’t want to find in their yard it’s mushrooms! These fungal frustrations crop up in all types of grass, and can stand out like sore thumbs in a lush green lawn. There are two schools of thought on mushrooms and whether you should seek to control them or not, so here are the facts you need to know about mushrooms to decide how to handle them in your yard.
What Are Mushrooms:
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a family of fungii that thrive on decaying organic substances. They live off of decaying animal waste, old mulch, rotting wood or construction debris, decomposing thatch, and neglected compost piles. Large amounts of fungus are alive and well in your soil long before mushrooms appear, and the mushrooms themselves are simply the reproductive part of the life-cycle of the fungii, distributing spores and spreading through areas of the yard and garden that can support them.
Are Mushrooms Harmful To Turf or Trees?
Mushrooms feed off of decaying matter not healthy living tissue, as a result they should pose no direct threat to the lawn or garden. While mushrooms do utilize many of the same basic nutrients in the soil that grass does, they act as natural recyclers and as they break down the organic material present in the soil they actually make nutrients more readily available for other plants.
Can They Be Controlled?
The two school’s of thought on mushrooms are this, some folks claim that mushrooms rob the soil of nutrients and that mushrooms need to be treated with fungicide, or have their food source removed by hand, and others state that mushrooms are beneficial to have in the lawn, and actually break down organic material into readily usable fertilizers for other plants. I would argue that many of the folks prescribing fungicides for mushrooms in the soil are marketing fungicides to you for their own profit rather than for the product’s usefullness, because these products never reach the vast majority of the fungus below the soil, and only provides temporary relief from mushrooms.
The fungii family that mushrooms belong to lace through organic material prior to erecting the mushroom fruit, 90% of this fungii is below the surface of the soil at varying depths. Since the majority of the fungus is below the soil, treatment options to remove the mushrooms permanently necessarily needs to be complex and labor intensive if you have a large amount of mushrooms. There are a variety of fungicides on the market that will eradicate mushrooms that crop up on the lawn, but they are all quick and temporary fixes because the fungus is predominantly below the soil, and will resurface seasonally even after fungicide applications. For fungal issues that may simply be related to decomposing mulch or grass clippings, simply raking the thatch up and aerating will suffice, or raking and flipping the mulch. For newer homes the mushrooms growing over large parts of the landscape may be clueing you in to recently buried constructions debris that needs to be removed. In areas with mature trees and older development, mushrooms often appear overnight in large areas over the decaying root systems of current trees, or trees that had been removed long ago. In the last scenario, if you want to permanently eradicate the mushrooms from your yard you will need to remove all the underground fungii’s food source, and excavate the root system or rotting wood that the Mushroom is feeding on.
What Do I Do?
The choice is up to you whether you want to spend the money on fungicides to quickly control the problem, or if you feel that removing the rotting organic material is the best option. Although fungus seems like a rather nasty problem to have in a lawn, it is a naturally occurring organism that does serve the purpose in decomposing and distributing fresh minerals and nutrients to your plants. Over time once the food source for the fungus has been eliminated the fungus will go away on it’s own. For those of you who are willing to allow mushrooms to complete their life cycle, this is one case where neglect in the garden will save you time, money and energy, and your lawn or garden will be none the worse the wear for it!
Photo Courtesy of:Kirstea