Have you stepped out onto your pride-and-joy lawn, only to discover that a colony of mushrooms has cropped up? You’re not alone! Mushrooms are a common landscaping problem, and they often poke up after a rainy day or when you lay down new sod. Mushrooms actually stem from underground fungi in your soil – they’re the fruit of this fungus, feeding off of all kinds of food sources in your lawn. Although they’re not harmful to your garden (but can be if ingested by children or pets), here are a few ways to get rid of them:
• Step away from the buffet!
Lawn mushrooms feast on damp, decaying organic stuff – think grass clippings, doggie-doo, old mulch, and rotting tree stumps. Removing these food sources means mushrooms will wither and die. So have those stumps ground up, ditch the decomposing mulch, rake up mown grass and scoop that poop!
• Dry it up!
Mushrooms thrive in moist environments, and are often a sign of over-irrigation or poor drainage. While you can’t control how much rain pours down, do practice deep, infrequent lawn watering. Your grass will develop an extensive root system and mushrooms will disappear as your soil dries out. De-thatching your lawn and aerating compacted soil in the spring or fall allows for better airflow, which helps drainage.
• Here comes the sun!
Because mushrooms dig the shade, trim excess branches so more sunlight gets into those areas.
• Fertilizing is fun!
Applying nitrogen fertilizer helps eliminate mushrooms by speeding up decomposition of organic materials. Don’t use slow-release or water-soluble formulations, though.
• Chop ‘em down, pull them out!
You can remove mushrooms as you spot them, but if the food source is still around, those toadstools will keep popping up. Cutting them down will help prevent their spores from spreading to new spots in your yard, and will also make sure your dog or child doesn’t chow down on them.
• Let ‘em be!
They’re not especially pretty, but mushrooms do help your garden. They transform organic material into nutrients for your yard, and help your soil retain moisture. Plus, according to Irish legends describing fairies dancing on ‘fairy ring’ toadstools, some mushrooms bring good luck to the household. So feel free to surround your mushrooms with garden gnomes and other decorations so people will think you have a fairy-friendly backyard!
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