What You Need to Know and Do About Lawn Mushrooms

Here in the Sunshine State and across Sarasota, we see these puffy protrusions poking up from the soil amidst green grass. These are quite common growths, especially during the rainy season, which, we are presently experiencing. Large varieties are referred to as “lawn mushrooms,” while small growths are considered to be toadstools. Regardless of the name or size, these are unsightly nuisances, and, can be quite harmful.

Lawn mushrooms are the result of fungus growing in the ground. Essentially, these are fruits of growth, which are fueled by moisture. Because we live in such a humid, subtropical climate, these growths thrive. All that’s needed is there in droves: soil, moisture, plenty of sunlight, and room to rise. This growth is remarkably rapid, seemingly sprouting overnight, and, when pulled, grow back with vigor.

Constant combat is a worry for homeowners, especially those with vegetable and flower gardens. It’s not just how ugly these growths are, but also, what the possible dangers may unfold as lawn mushrooms push up through the soil and tower just above the grass. Mow over them, and sure enough, they sprout again, or, pull them and the same thing happens.

What You Need to Know about Lawn Mushrooms

As stated above, lawn mushrooms are fungi. We typically associate fungus with gross things. And, these are hardly an exception to that perception. The good news is, most of these do very little to affect the turf. But, certainly aren’t benign. In fact, these are so prominent and associated with negative perception that one folklore purports these growths are what’s left from the devil churning butter in the dead of the night.

They might show up after a rainy spell or emerge in new sod. Or you might have a fairy ring surface in your yard. Whatever the situation, having mushrooms pop up in your lawn can be a nuisance, an eyesore and, if you have children, potentially dangerous. —Bayer CropScience

Lawn mushrooms of all shapes and sizes are not harmless. Quite to the contrary, most are poisonous and considered toxic. Because of this, it’s best to keep children and plant nibbling pets away from these fungi growths. One positive thing about lawn mushrooms is their very short lifespan. After blooming, these release spores to jump start the next generation and then quickly shrivel. However, just because some die doesn’t mean more won’t grow.

What You Need to Do about Lawn Mushrooms

Because we live in a climate that’s very friendly for mushrooms to grow, controlling them isn’t easy. In fact, these are some of the most difficult growths to combat because the food they thrive on is ever-present on the grass and in the soil. Dead roots, rotting wood and leaves, and, thatch all feed fungi growth. These are essential elements for mushrooms, and, there’s certainly no shortage. While this is largely beneficial to lawns, but, still remain eyesores, at the very least, ruining otherwise beautiful landscapes. Mycelia, the root of fungi, is the vegetative part of the growth. These grow at a remarkable rate, so, controlling them is quite difficult. Here are a few ways to deal with lawn mushrooms:

  • Pull up mushrooms when they first appear. One way to keep mushrooms from being a potential danger to children and pets is to pull them up by the root as soon as the fungus sprouts from the ground. This prevents the fungi from growing to maturity and spreading spores that promote future growth.
  • Mow your lawn regularly and limit watering. When you mow your yard, the grass is shorter, which means it takes less time to dry from morning dew and rain. In addition, limit how much you water because that also contributes to the growth of lawn mushrooms. Before you start mowing, be sure to pull all visible fungi because the blades will cut and broadcast fungi, and it spores, across the lawn.
  • Clean all debris on your lawn. Since fungi live off decaying organic matter, limit the food supply by raking leaves, grass clippings, and any other debris which acts as a nutritive source. This is especially important during the rainy season because more organic matter falls to the ground during and after storms.
  • Aerate the lawn periodically. If you aerate your lawn, you necessarily increase drainage and promote drier conditions. Dig down about three inches to get to the roots and newly forming fungi for the best results. Try to break-up the mat as much as possible to prevent new fungi from taking hold.
  • Apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. When you apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, like ammonium sulfate, is speeds-up organic matter decaying process, which gives fungi less food to feed on.

Another control measure is to excavate the area where mushrooms thrive. You’re likely to find rotting wood and other organic matter breaking down that serves as the fuel for fungi growth.

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