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If you pride yourself on a flawless lawn, you’ll no doubt recoil at unsightly mushrooms sprouting up where they shouldn’t. There’s nothing fun(gi) about it. While mushrooms aren’t typically any cause for concern, and won’t likely harm your grass, they could signal potential problems. Not least the toxins exposed to pets and children.
But it’s not all shroom and gloom: certain toadstools add vitality to your garden by breaking down organic matter like dead leaves, releasing nutrients into the soil — but we’ll touch more on this later. In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about ridding your lawn of mushrooms and offer preventive tips.
Different types of lawn mushroom
There are countless species of mushrooms in the UK — 15,000 to be exact! – and many can grow on lawns. The term “mushroom” or “toadstool” refers to the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting bodes that certain fungi produce, either benign, toxic, or harmful. So, your first port of call should be to identify the fleshy parts of fungi, so you know what you’re dealing with before attempting to remove them.
Common types of lawn mushrooms include:
- Benign mushrooms: These mushrooms aren’t harmful and don’t usually cause lawn problems. They may not be the most attractive, but they’re not dangerous to humans or pets. Examples include Horse Mushroom, The Prince, Pavement Mushroom, and Medusa Mushroom.
- Toxic mushrooms: Some are toxic and can cause serious illness or even death if ingested. These types of mushrooms should be removed immediately to prevent accidental poisoning. Examples include Inky Mushrooms, Yellow Stainer, Gemmed Amanita, and Vomiter Mushrooms.
Why do mushrooms love lawns?
Although unsightly, mushrooms are a natural part of the ecosystem. Sometimes they serve a useful purpose by recycling dead or decaying matter into your soil, caused by organic matter from tree bark, rotting wood, and even animal faeces. The fungi can sit beneath your lawn for several years before revealing its big, squishy head — known as mycelium—thriving off the organic matter that lands its way.
Conditions that mushrooms like best:
- Certain types of soil, such as clay, that tend to retain moisture.
- High-humidity gardens.
- Where organic matter is present in the form of fallen leaves, grass clippings, rotting bark, etc.
The most common lawn mushrooms in the UK
- Horse mushroom (Agaricus arvensis): A harmless, unedible mushroom that flourishes on frequently mowed lawns.
- Yellow Stainer (Agaricus xanthodermus): A large, poisonous fungus that thrives near hedges or shaded areas in summer.
- The Blusher (Amanita rubescens): A common fungus that appears in early May and has a large, 15cm cap.
- Field Mushroom (Agaricus campestris): Also known as a meadow mushroom, you’ll notice this common fungus sprouting in May.
- Orange Peel Fungus (Aleuria aurantia): A medium-sized, edible shroom that has a highly unique appearance.
What’s the difference between mushrooms and toadstools?
It sounds like the start of a cringe Christmas cracker joke. But the terms “mushroom” and “toadstool” are relatively interchangeable, and refer to the fruiting bodies that pop up on your lawn.
The fungus itself lives below the soil’s surface as part of a much larger, intricate network. If you want to get really technical, this network consists of filaments called hyphae that join to plant roots as part of a symbiotic relationship referred to as mycorrhiza. Fancy, hey.
3 ways to remove lawn mushrooms
Now that we’ve covered all the scientific stuff, let’s get to the issue at hand: fungi fighting.
There are several methods for removing lawn mushrooms, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are three of the easiest. Just remember that some strategies might not be suitable for removing certain species.
Although the main fungus network lives under the grass, you can remove the fungi’s visible fruit simply by pulling them out of the soil by hand.
This is most effective for small patches of mushrooms and can be done using a small spade or trowel—just be mindful of wearing gardening gloves, as some mushrooms are poisonous. You will also need to wrap the mushrooms in a plastic bag before plucking to prevent the spores from becoming airborne.
If you have a more extensive infestation of mushrooms, you may consider using a fungicide to kill and stop them from growing. There are several fungicides available, so be sure to choose one specifically formulated for use on lawns. I’ve had some pretty amazing results with Prevanto Fungus Fighter. Follow the instructions on the label carefully, and be sure to use protective gear when applying the fungicide.
For those looking for a more natural solution, there are several methods you can try to deter mushroom growth. One option is to mix a mild soap and water solution, then spray it over the affected area. The soap acts as a mild fungicide and can help to kill the fungi causing the mushrooms to grow.
I personally prefer another option, which is to use a lawn aerator. Punching holes in the soil improves drainage, helps lawn roots, controls moss, and, most importantly, increases the bacteria that fight against fungi.
How to aerate a lawn:
- Use a fork, slicing aerator, or plug aerator.
- Spike the lawn at 12-inch intervals.
- Work sand into the holes.
- Follow by scarifying to remove thatch and moss. You can also use a wire rake.
This is one of our favourite lawn aerators from Amazon.
How to prevent mushrooms from returning
Once you’ve removed the mushrooms from your lawn, you’ll want to take steps to prevent them from returning. Here are a few tips for stopping mushroom growth that have worked well for me:
- Improve soil drainage: Poor drainage can lead to overly wet conditions, contributing to mushroom growth. You can reroute or extend downspouts, use rain barrels to collect excess water, or punch holes in the soil using a lawn aerator to improve drainage.
- Reduce humidity: High humidity levels can create the perfect conditions for mushroom growth. To reduce humidity, ensure your gutters are clean and trim trees or shrubs to allow more sunlight to reach your lawn.
- Remove organic matter: Mushrooms feed on organic matter, so removing food sources can help prevent them from growing. So, rake away fallen leaves, grass clippings, pet excrement, and wood rot from your lawn.