Mushrooms in gardens evoke varied reactions from different people. Some delight from toadstools or fairy rings gracing their ordinary yards; others might feel disgusted over the thought of fungus invading your garden.
Affinity to mushrooms aside, mushrooms in your lawn are likely because you’ve been experiencing humid weather or wet soil conditions. That, or the fungi have taken to feeding on decaying organic matter in your yard, such as tree stumps, fallen leaves, or old roots.
Read on to discover the possible reasons why you’re witnessing mushroom growth in your garden and what you can—and should not—do about it.
Mushrooms in My Yard: Why Are There so Many?
Mushrooms release airborne spores and propagate in suitable conditions. The spores germinate in the dark, damp areas rich in organic matter. Once the airborne spores land, they grow thin filaments that eventually form mycelia, responsible for decomposing organic matter and feeding off of the nutrients.
The mushrooms visible on your lawn are, in fact, the ascending fruits of the fungus that’s below-ground. These fungi typically live in the soil for a long time, possibly for several years, only growing mushrooms when suitable soil and climate conditions.
Mushrooms: Good or Bad for My Garden?
Mushroom growth, per se, is not harmful to your garden. In fact, mushroom growth indicates a healthy garden because of their ability to digest organic matter in the ground, which helps nearby plant roots absorb nutrients better.
There is a natural symbiosis between mushrooms and other plant life. Take, for example, the fungi mycorrhizae. This group of fungi assists surrounding plants in absorbing nutrients and water. In return, the mycorrhizae gain sugars and amino acids from these plants, sustaining them. And the symbiotic relationship persists. You might observe mycorrhizae among trees and shrubs as visible, aboveground mushrooms. Notice how the plants around the mushrooms are thriving. Many trees, including oaks and pines, tend to grow healthier in the presence of mycorrhizae. In its absence, you might observe trees growing poorly.
Pretty as they might look—and pretty amazing as they might sustain plant growth—be wary about just eating mushrooms sprouting in your yard. Unlike gourmet mushrooms cultured in urban farms or hydroponic container systems, you cannot be sure if the mushrooms in your yard are toxic or safe to ingest. You should avoid eating wild mushrooms unless, of course, you grew them yourself and are confident that they are edible.
So suppose you have small children and pets at home and you have a proliferation of mushrooms. You might need to manage this growth as they can ingest the mushrooms accidentally.
What to Do about Mushrooms in the Yard
Merely pulling out to get rid of the fungal growth is not as simple as it seems, especially if the mycelia have significantly pervaded the surrounding plant life. Drastically removing the fungal mycelia can harm the soil and plants in the vicinity. Besides, just pulling out the mushrooms from the soil will not eliminate the fungus that grows them.
Removing mushrooms promptly after they emerge can prevent the further spread of spores in your garden. Although, again, doing so might not be entirely effective. Remember that mushrooms thrive in damp and shaded places, so it might be more effective to address what’s causing the constant moisture. Perhaps you’ve been overwatering a particular area or there’s a malfunctioning drainage or sewer pipe nearby. You can aerate the soil and irrigate only when needed. Confirm that your sewer or drainage pipes are all in order.
Fungicides might offer a slight improvement, although these are often temporary. Certain fungicides do not exactly kill the mushrooms. The chemicals might eliminate the ascending fruit (those that grow aboveground). Still, they will not reach the main fungal body beneath the soil. Instead of relying on chemical fungicides that might upset your soil conditions, try raking up the mushrooms then burying them. You might need to repeat this process several times before the fungi stop growing, though. Be sure to aerate the soil to reduce its moisture content or clear out the area so more sunlight can help dry out the soil. This should arrest the constant growth of the fungal fruits. Another better way to go about this is to dig up the soil and add it to your compost bin.
When you see the occasional mushrooms in your garden, take it as a good sign that your soil is fertile and your other plants benefit from it. Mushrooms help break down organic matter that can nourish your plants. However, if you feel that the mushrooms are too many that they have become unsightly, take comfort that the ascending fruits are fragile and short-lived. They can disappear on their own. Then again, if you have small children or pets who might be in danger of ingesting these sprouts, it might be better to remove them and prevent the further spread of spores.