It’s a beautiful morning after a rainstorm. You look outside, and there they are: Mushrooms have sprung up overnight. Sometimes the mushrooms appear in circles known as fairy rings. Ancient lore suggested that the mushrooms appeared after fairies had danced the night away in those circles. What causes the appearance of these fungi? You can blame it on the mix of moisture, shady or cloudy weather, and rich, organic material in the soil. When those elements combine, it’s time for mushrooms.
What Are Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are the reproductive parts of fungi that reside in the soil. Most of the time, the fungi are hidden and break down organic material. But when the conditions are right, mushrooms burst forth. Mushrooms spread spores through the air and then disappear when the soil dries. You can keep mushrooms from frequently appearing by changing the conditions in your yard. Here’s how.
Decrease Shade in Difficult Areas
Mushrooms love the shade. To discourage mushroom growth, trim back or thin out branches on nearby trees or shrubs. Extra sunshine helps keep mushrooms in check.
The best way to avoid mushroom growth is to avoid overwatering your lawn. If you have been receiving adequate rainfall, be sure to turn off your irrigation system until the soil dries out.
Avoid Compacted Soil
If your lawn contains standing water or remains damp for extended periods after rain, your soil may be compacted. Lawn aeration can help improve drainage, which will decrease the moisture that encourages mushrooms. Aeration helps supply oxygen to the roots of your grass. If you have over half an inch of thatch on your lawn, you have a lot of organic material that absorbs moisture and encourages mushrooms. Dethatching your lawn can then help keep mushrooms away.
Minimize the Effects of Pets and Former Trees
If you have space where a tree used to stand on your lawn, the dead roots underground may encourage mushroom growth even if the stump is gone. If the stump is still present, you can have it removed. If it’s gone, keep the area well raked and aerated to improve drainage. It also helps to clean up after your pet frequently. Animal waste on the lawn can encourage mushrooms.
Know That Mushrooms Aren’t All Bad
The appearance of mushrooms isn’t all bad. Mushrooms indicate that your yard’s soil contains a lot of organic material. Mushrooms break down that organic material and make your soil more productive. If your shade and drainage aren’t significant problems, you can always knock over the offending mushrooms.
Do Not Eat Mushrooms
It’s also worth noting that many mushrooms are poisonous. Never eat an unknown mushroom unless you are absolutely confident of your identification skills.
Target Less Friendly Fungi
Damp and humid conditions can bring out other types of fungi that can create more serious problems for your lawn. Brown patch, fusarium blight, dollar spot, pythium, and rust are a few diseases that can thrive in wet grass. Fortunately, these lawn diseases can be controlled. Watch for next week’s Scientific Plant Service blog about destructive lawn fungi and how to prevent and control them.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!