Mushrooms are important players in healthy ecosystems. They help recycle nutrients and form intimate relationships with plants, insects, and animals. Regardless of this, many people don’t want them growing around their homes. Some see them as a hazard, while others don’t like the look of them in their perfectly groomed lawns.
In this guide, we will give you the information you need to diagnose and treat your issues. In some cases it may be an easy fix, in others, it may be more complicated!
BEWARE! A LOT of misinformation exists on the internet about removing mushrooms! Don’t waste your time and resources with tactics recommended on some websites.
Do you REALLY need to remove them? Mushrooms have a bad reputation and may not necessarily be harmful or dangerous.
Myths about Mushrooms in your Lawn and Yard
Mushrooms are Harmful to Grass and Plants – FALSE. Most mushrooms are indicators of healthy soil biology. The biggest exception is in the case of “Butt Rot Mushrooms” growing near the base of trees. We address this later in the article.
All Mushrooms are Dangerous for Kids and Dogs – Mostly FALSE. Most mushrooms that grow in your yard are not dangerous. Out of 14,000 mushrooms known to science, only a handful are deadly poisonous. These generally occur in woodlands. So if you have oaks, conifers, or other woodland tree species you may have reason to be concerned.
This being said, NEVER CONSUME mushrooms without proper identification!
Mushroom Spores Cause Allergies – FALSE. Mushroom spores do not cause allergies in natural settings. It takes an EXTREMELY large quantity of spores, like those in a mushroom farm, to produce a reaction.
Getting rid of Mushrooms for Good
To get rid of the mushrooms in your yard, it’s best to first figure out WHY they’re growing. You can typically do this based on where they are growing.
Mushrooms usually grow in:
- Lawns or Grass Patches
- Tree Trunks or Branches
- Garden Mulch
- Near the Base of Trees
Physically Removing the Mushrooms is NOT ENOUGH to get rid of them for good! Mushrooms are only the reproductive structure of a fungus. We must address the fungus if we want to prevent the formation of Mushrooms!
Mushrooms growing in your Lawn
Lawn Mushrooms are usually feeding on organic matter in your soils. Many times these may be the famous “Fairy Ring Mushrooms” that grow in perfect circles. There are many ways to remove them.
- Nitrogen Fertilizers. One of the easiest ways to get rid of the fungi is with nitrogen fertilizers. This stimulates bacterial growth that will outcompete the fungi. Simply buy a lawn fertilizer and apply as indicated. Do NOT over-fertilize! This could greatly affect the health of your soil. This is NOT considered organic, but is a better option than fungicides.
- Compost Tea. You can find compost tea at most garden centers. Find one the has molasses or indicates the addition of molasses. Apply this with a sprayer or watering can. This also stimulates the growth of bacteria that can out-compete your soil fungi! Apply every 1-2 weeks or as needed. This is your best ORGANIC option!
- Fungicides. You can buy conventional fungicides for your lawn. These are the LEAST environmentally friendly. Look for one that is specifically for lawns and use as directed in the packaging.
- Remove Grass Clippings. Leaving grass clippings to decompose after mowing is beneficial for lawn health. Unfortunately, it feeds mushroom-producing fungi. You may be able to discourage mushrooms by collecting grass clippings after mowing.
BEWARE! Many websites say improper drainage or lack of aeration causes mushroom growth. THIS IS GENERALLY FALSE! Mushroom-producing fungi don’t like waterlogged or compacted soils.
Mushrooms growing near Trees
Mushrooms can often associate with trees growing in your yard. They can either have a beneficial or negative relationship with your trees.
Beneficial Mushrooms – Certain tree species form positive relationships with soil-dwelling fungi. These are known as “Symbiotic Relationships”.
Your mushrooms most likely have a symbiotic relationship if:
- They occur near specific types of trees. These are Oak, Pine, Spruce, Alder, Birch, Eucalyptus, and other coniferous species.
- They have the generic mushroom “cap and stem” shape, with gills or pores beneath the cap.
- Tree’s look healthy and have no signs of sickness.
- They fruit yearly and appear to be growing directly from the soil. They should not attach to leaf litter, rotting wood, or any other organic material.
Unfortunately, you can not get rid of these mushrooms without harming the tree. You can try using nitrogen fertilizers or fungicides. This may cause long-term damage to your tree.
Pathogenic Mushrooms – Certain varieties of mushrooms are harmful. These are commonly known as “Butt Rot” mushrooms.
Your mushrooms may be pathogenic if:
- They form large irregular-shaped mushrooms.
- Occur directly from or near the base of the trunk.
- You see symptoms of weakness or disease in the tree.
- They are occurring for the first time after years of absence.
- Unfortunately, by the time these mushrooms fruit, your tree may be severely impaired. In this case, consult an arborist to safely remove the tree.
Mushrooms growing on Trees and Stumps
Mushrooms are often specialists at decomposing wood. For this reason, you may find them appearing from trees or stumps.
Growing From Trees – Mushrooms may rot dead wood found inside of trees. These are impossible to address without removing the material. If this is a branch or two, you can remove them. If they are appearing from the trunk, you’re out of luck. Attempting to remove this fungus will cause more harm than good.
Thankfully, fungi growing from the trunks of living trees are usually harmless. In most cases, they are harmless shelf-like “polypores”. These may be beneficial to tree health! If you see any signs of illness, consult an arborist.
Growing From Stumps – Your best bet is removing the stump entirely. Otherwise, it may only take a couple of seasons for the stump to decompose.
Mushrooms on Mulch
Your best answer is to get rid of the mulch altogether. You can then replace it with mulch that is less attractive to fungi. Alternatively, try applying nitrogen fertilizers or fungicides.
Mulch That is Less Attractive to Mushrooms
- Mulch derived from Coniferous Trees
- Commercially packaged mulch pretreated with fungicides.
- Inorganic mulch like lava rocks or stones.
Will Vinegar kill Mushrooms?
No. This is a common myth that will in most cases show no results. Not only is this a waste of time and vinegar, but it may impair the health of your soil.
So… Removing Mushrooms. Is it worth it?
In most cases, NO. The chances of them being hazardous are low. In most cases, they are beneficial for soil health. But it’s a personal decision! If you don’t like them, go ahead and remove them