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Shrooms in Bloom!

By Paul James

Mushrooms have been popping up in lawns all over town, and their presence causes many a homeowner to panic and wonder how best to destroy them – some sort of fungicidal spray or powder, or perhaps a pitching wedge? Well you might be surprised to learn that my approach to dealing with mushrooms in the lawn is much simpler.

That’s because I do absolutely nothing.

Truth is, I enjoy seeing the fruiting bodies of various fungi aboveground because it tells me that belowground their hyphae and mycelia (fungal roots, if you will) are busy feeding on and helping decompose little chunks of wood, old roots, and other organic matter and turning it into soil. And in the process, they’re releasing nutrients that feed the soil and plants. In other words, they’re part of a healthy soil ecosystem. Besides, fungicides absolutely will not control them, and a pitching wedge will likely do more harm to your grass than a million mushrooms ever could.

The presence of mushrooms in the lawn can tell you something about the condition of your soil, because most mushrooms prefer to grow in soils that don’t drain well. But even in soils that do drain well, excessive rainfall or overwatering can trigger their arrival.

There are a few destructive varieties of mushrooms, notably those that attack oak trees. The culprit is actually related to the shitake mushroom, but sadly once they show up at the base of a tree, there’s nothing that can be done to save it. Fairy ring mushrooms can cause damage to lawns, but if you’ll aerate and fertilize the affected area your turf should bounce back.

And of course there are poisonous mushrooms, though they’re rarely found in the lawn. Still, if you have young children or pets, you might want to remove mushrooms in the lawn just to be on the safe side. (Truth be told, I’ve never actually done what I just said.)

Finally, unless you’re a trained mycologist or experienced amateur, you should never, ever eat wild mushrooms. Again, chances are the mushrooms in your lawn aren’t poisonous, but according to a friend who is a trained mycologist, most of them either have no taste at all or taste awful.

And that’s reason enough not to even think about eating them.

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6 responses to “Shrooms in Bloom!”

  1. Mollie Myers says:

    I have a strange red, almost tubular mushroom that looks almost like a crab claw. They showed up after all the rain in the shadiest part of my lawn. Any idea what the heck they are??

    • Paul James says:

      Not to worry. They look strange indeed, but what you’ve described is a form of stinkhorn fungus, and it’s harmless. Certain varieties, however, truly do stink!

  2. Vicky Courtney says:

    Paul – I have a 150-year-old Oaktree in my backyard and I’ve noticed mushrooms in the grass about 25 feet away from the base… Do I need to worry ?

    • Paul James says:

      Probably not. However, if you see shrooms growing at the base of the tree, that’s a different story (and one with a sad ending).. Keep me posted.

  3. Charlotte McGuire says:

    What a fun and entertaining article! I had no idea my garden has such an interesting past. Thank Paul!

    • Paul James says:

      Thanks. I do what I can to make gardening interesting and fun. Glad you enjoyed the post.