What exactly are mushrooms and toadstools?Before we answer this question, we first need to answer another one: what are fungi? Fungi are defined as any spore-producing organism that feeds on organic matter, which includes mould, mushrooms, toadstools and yeast. Mushrooms and toadstools both fall under the broad umbrella term of fungi then, so what’s the difference between the two? Mushrooms and toadstools are the fruiting body of a fungus that lives in the soil, and tend to pop up in your lawn when conditions are just right––usually very hot and humid or very cold and damp. Mushrooms and toadstools both have a cap and gills, which they use to spread their spores around and multiply. Typically speaking, the term mushroom will usually be referring to edible fungi, whereas the term toadstool tends to refer to those that are inedible or poisonous. There are not a great many visible differences to differentiate mushrooms and toadstools, so if you are planning on eating any, do plenty of research first.
Why do mushrooms (and toadstools) grow in your lawn?Mushrooms and toadstools grow in your lawn because the conditions are perfect for fungi to fruit. Certain types of fungus will thrive in humid, warm conditions, while others favour damp, cool weather. Having mushrooms pop up is not a bad thing, in fact, it’s usually a good sign that you have plenty of organic material in your soil, which mushrooms help to break down and fill your soil with nutrients. The reason that mushrooms and toadstools spread as quickly as they do is due to their gills, which spread the airborne spores right across your grass.
The conditions fungi thrive the most inFungi thrive with moisture and shade. If you’ve recently had a lot of rain or your yard has poor drainage, it’s likely you’ll see mushrooms and toadstools start to pop up. Or, if you’ve got shaded areas that don’t get good airflow, this is another condition fungi love. For those of us in the flood-affected areas of Victoria, don’t be surprised to see plenty of mushrooms attempting to make a home in your lawn. It’s not just the rain, cold and damp that’ll have fungi popping up everywhere either – certain types of fungi prefer warm, humid environments. So, if you’re living somewhere a bit more tropical, you’re just as likely to get mushrooms and toadstools in your yard. The other factor that can contribute to fungus growth is leaving organic matter on your lawn. Think mulch, animal waste, compost, grass clippings etc. Mushrooms will eat this right up.
Are mushrooms a good or bad sign for the lawn?You may not appreciate the look of them, but mushrooms or toadstools popping up is usually a good sign that you have healthy, nutrient-rich soil. Fungi only contribute to this, so in terms of lawn health, mushrooms can be considered a good thing.
Should I get rid of mushrooms in my lawn?
While mushrooms are usually harmless, there are a few reasons you may want to get rid of them. You may actually have
toadstools that are poisonous or harmful, and you have kids or pets running around. You may just not like the way they
look in your lawn, or perhaps you want to stop them from spreading. There are a few ways we can naturally reduce the
possibility of them growing.
1. Remove by hand
Mushrooms are easily removable just by pulling them up with your hand. The favourable growing conditions for mushrooms
will change with the weather, so even if you don’t remove them, they’ll disappear on their own eventually.
2. Decrease shade
Mushrooms and toadstools love a shady patch of lawn, so we recommend cutting back on the shaded area over your grass.
Trim back your trees and bushes so the lawn gets maximum sunlight.
3. Improve drainage
A compacted lawn with water that can’t be absorbed or drained away will be a perfect home for mushrooms. You can improve
your lawn’s drainage by aerating the
soil, getting oxygen and nutrients down to the roots of your lawn.
Watering your lawn too often could lead to a compacted lawn, which we definitely don’t want. Make sure you do your research on how often your particular type of turf
needs watering to keep it in tip-top shape. A good tip is to only water your lawn during the day, so the moisture can be
absorbed, rather than at night, when the moisture will sit until the sun comes up.
5. Pick up grass clippings after mowing
Leaving dead organic material on your lawn is only going to exacerbate fungus growth. After you’ve mown your lawn, clear it of any leftover grass clippings,
animal waste or compost so you don’t attract mushrooms.
Knowing how to fertilise your specific turf type is
essential to a healthy lawn and inhibiting fungus growth. The way you fertilise will change depending on the season too,
so we recommend really doing your research here.
Are mushrooms in grass edible or harmful?
Because it isn’t always possible to determine whether the fungus growing in your yard is a harmless mushroom or a
poisonous toadstool, we recommend treating all mushrooms with caution. Do not eat mushrooms in your yard unless you have
done research and are 100% sure they are safe.
Are mushrooms safe to touch for kids?
Even if a mushroom/toadstool is of the poisonous variety, you would need to ingest the mushroom to really be harmed by
it. This being said, we’d recommend not letting children pick up or play with mushrooms, just to be on the safe side.
Are toadstools and mushrooms poisonous to dogs?
Yes. Almost all mushrooms and toadstools are poisonous to dogs and cats when ingested, resulting in symptoms like frothing at
the mouth, vomiting and seizures.
Should I use a fungicide to kill mushrooms in my lawn?
Fungicide will not kill mushrooms directly, as they are only a part of the fungus that lives in the soil. Proper lawn care and the tips provided above are
the best way to prevent and remove mushrooms at the source.
Overall, it’s not the end of the world if mushrooms and toadstools are popping up in your garden. They won’t have a
negative impact on the health of your lawn, and they’ll go away on their own once those favourable conditions change.
Our advice? Unless you’ve got pets or kids running around, and unless you can’t stand the sight of them, leave them be.
Have you got a question about lawn mushrooms or toadstools that we haven’t answered here? Don’t hesitate to get in touch
with us here. Our expert team has all the
answers and is always happy to help.