If you’ve just noticed a few mushrooms popping up on your lawn for the first time, you might be wondering if they are dangerous in any way and whether or not you should remove them.
You’ll be happy to know that most lawn mushrooms are completely harmless and some are even edible. That said, there are a few species of lawn mushroom that can be very dangerous. If you don’t know how to tell harmful mushrooms from harmless, make sure to treat them all as potentially deadly unless proven otherwise.
Mushrooms on the lawn are actually a good thing despite them being potentially dangerous. To learn more about these mysterious fungi, keep reading.
What are mushrooms?
Mushrooms, also called toadstools, are the reproductive organs of fungi in your lawn. You can think of them as fruits or flowers, but instead of producing seeds, they release millions of microscopic spores.
These spores are distributed by wind, animals, or other means. When they land in a suitable location such as a shady, damp area with lots of organic matter in the soil, these spores will germinate and grow into a network of rooting threads called mycelium.
Mycelium, unlike the mushrooms that pop up and disappear quickly, can persist for years underground. They feed on organic matter and make a lot of nutrients available to the plant life around them. Once a year, they will send up their annual crop of mushrooms to ensure the next generation of fungi is born.
You can tell if an area has mycelium under the grass or in the soil by looking at the plant growth in the area. Usually, when the mycelium is present, you will notice the grass in that area is much greener than the rest of the lawn. This is due to the mycelium breaking down organic matter and making the nutrients available to the plant life around them.
The easiest way to tell if you have mycelium is to look for fairy rings. These appear as a ring of mushrooms on your lawn, or as a ring of extra green grass. On rare occasions, you might notice the grass dying in the form of a ring as well.
Mushrooms vs toadstools
You’ve probably heard the terms mushroom and toadstool being used interchangeably. The term mushroom usually refers to the edible fruit of fungi in the soil, while a toadstool refers to poisonous or inedible mushrooms. In actual fact, there is no difference between a mushroom and a toadstool.
Toadstools can’t be scientifically distinguished from mushrooms and there is no group of mushrooms that’s specifically referred to as toadstools. The problem comes in when people assume that all fungi referred to as mushrooms are edible. This is not true and you might end up with a severely upset stomach or worse.
For instance, people tend to refer to white mushrooms that grow in a field as mushrooms and those more colourful species that grow in forests and woodland areas as toadstools. The problem is some very dangerous mushrooms like the death cap and yellow strainer are also white and can be found growing in grassy fields. You don’t want to mess with those.
For a more in-depth explanation, take a look at this article
Why do mushrooms grow in my lawn?
If you see a mushroom or two popping up in your garden, you might be wondering what’s causing mushrooms to grow on the lawn. Before you start ripping them out left right and centre, take a deep breath. The presence of mushrooms on grass, in most cases, is not a bad thing. Fungus in your lawn is an indication of plenty of organic matter. That means, your grass and plants have lots of nutrients to feed on.
Fungi in grass do have a set of preferences when it comes to where they grow. Most of the time, you can expect lawn fungi to grow in shaded, moist areas with access to lots of organic matter.
Mushroom growth can also be triggered by heavy rain followed by a week of overcast weather. If you have pets, your cat or dog’s faeces can also trigger mushroom growth on your lawn. Most of these mushrooms are completely harmless and do a lot of good for your lawn, so if you don’t need to protect your pets or kids, just ignore them. They disappear very quickly on their own either way.
If you’re worried, however, start doing a bit of research. Being able to identify harmless mushrooms will bring you some peace of mind and also allows you to only remove the fungus you don’t want around.
If you have young children or pets, however, it’s better to be on the safe side. You can either manually remove the mushrooms or simply prevent access to the area for a few days. Mushrooms come and go very quickly, so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep everyone safe from them.
Common mushrooms that grow in UK gardens
There are so many different mushrooms growing in UK gardens that you could probably write a book about them. I’m sure such a book already exists in actual fact. If, however, you don’t have a mushroom list and find yourself wondering ‘are lawn mushrooms in UK poisonous?’ keep reading.
- Horse mushroom – Harmless
- Field mushroom – Harmless
- Inky mushroom – Poisonous
- Yellow stainer- Poisonous
- Spring field cap – Harmless
- Orange peel fungus – Harmless
There are of course many, many more. For a full guide on edible mushrooms, check out this article.
Keep in mind that distinguishing harmless from poisonous fungi is not easy. DON’T for any reason try to eat a mushroom based on research done on the internet. If you want to collect your own mushrooms, get an expert to teach you. The better alternative is simply to buy your mushrooms from the supermarket. These are guaranteed to be safe to eat.
How to get rid of mushrooms in the lawn
Now that you know what a mushroom is and how it spreads, you can look into ways to get rid of them if you wish to do so. Keep in mind that lawn fungi usually do more good than bad in your garden, so I would think carefully before removing them.
Just a quick recap on how mushrooms spread. Mycelium grows under the soil and spread by producing the structures we call mushrooms. These are the fruits or flowers of mycelium fungi. The mushrooms will ripen and release microscopic spores into the air. These spores are carried away by wind, animals and other means such as us cutting the lawn and distributing the mushroom remains in our compost.
Here are a couple of methods to get rid of fungi in your lawn:
Manually remove the mushrooms
The first is to kill mushrooms on grass by manual removal. Keep in mind that removing the mushrooms alone won’t destroy the mycelium.
The mycelium will sprout new mushrooms again the following year. If, however, you are quick enough, you can prevent new spores from spreading. This means the likelihood of new mycelium forming is rare. Eventually, the existing mycelium will run its course and die off, meaning no more mushrooms!
Manual removal can be a very difficult process, and you’re unlikely to catch them all before they release spores. You might have to repeat the process several times over several years before eradicating the offenders. You might also find that the problem reoccurs despite your best efforts.
Apply a fungicide treatment
Secondly, you can try treating mushrooms in lawn with a fungicide. The fungicide poison will take care of the offensive mushrooms as well as the mycelium that produced it under the soil. Keep in mind that you can’t choose what fungi it kills. In the long run, this method might negatively affect your garden since mycelium produces a lot of nutrients for your garden plants to absorb.
Sometimes, you will notice a ring of grass on the lawn that grows much faster than the rest. Known as a fairy ring, it’s caused by fungi growing underneath the soil. The grass grows much faster since the fungi make the nutrients in the soil much more accessible. If you want your grass to grow evenly, you can treat the area with a fungicide to get rid of the offending fungi underneath the soil.
Mow the lawn
If you want to get rid of the mushrooms quickly, you can mow your lawn. Make sure to rake up any loose grass and dispose of the clippings by putting them in a sealed bag before chucking them in the bin. The spores still have a chance to spread if you leave the clippings on the lawn or if you dispose of them on your compost heap.
How to stop mushrooms from growing on the lawn
To solve your mushrooms growing in lawn problem, you can use any of the methods mentioned above. Lawn mushroom control is fairly easy if you pay a lot of attention to your garden. To minimise the growth of mushrooms on your lawn, cut back on the compost. Mushrooms thrive in areas rich in organic matter.
You can also make sure to quickly remove any mushrooms as soon as you notice them popping up. The best time to be on the lookout for mushrooms is in overcast weather following heavy rain storms. Fungi tend to like warm, moist conditions, making the days after summer rain storms the perfect time for them to appear seemingly out of nowhere. They also disappear just as fast, so if you’re not paying attention, you won’t be able to stop them from reproducing.
One method to control new mushroom growth is to mow your lawn as soon as you see the slightest hint of a mushroom popping up. Hopefully, you will cut them down before they have a chance to release their spores.
If you know there is a specific area in your lawn that always has mushrooms sprouting, you can treat the area with a fungicide to kill the mycelium responsible.
Should I get rid of mushrooms in my garden?
It depends. If you have kids or pets, it might be best to remove the mushrooms just to be safe. If you don’t, however, they can’t do any harm so just leave them be. In fact, mushrooms do a lot of good by breaking down organic matter and making the resulting nutrients available to surrounding plants.
How do I get rid of mushrooms without killing the grass?
Manual removal. The best way to get rid of mushrooms on your lawn without damaging your turf is manual removal. You will need to pay close attention to your lawn for this method to be effective, however. You can use a fork and lift them out of the grass or you can simply mow your lawn to get rid of them.
Are yard mushrooms poisonous to touch?
It depends on the species. Most lawn mushrooms are completely harmless, but unless you know your ‘shrooms, it’s best to treat them like potential killers. There are very few species that are really dangerous, but because of their similar looks, it’s best to just treat them with caution from the start. Use gloves if you want to handle any mushrooms from your yard.
Mushrooms in lawn: Good or bad?
Mushrooms on your lawn are mostly a sign of good health. It means there is lots of organic matter present in the system. In turn, this means your plants have lots of food to grow. The only time you should be worried about mushrooms on your lawn is if you have small kids or pets. You might also want to remove them if they’re affecting your grass.
If you have mushrooms on your lawn, take some time to think about the benefits and risks before you rip them out. In the end, the decision is yours.