You’ve worked hard to cultivate a beautifully landscaped yard… so you would probably be dismayed to discover mushrooms popping up all over your lawn. Yet, that is exactly what often happens to frustrated homeowners, who don’t particularly care for these unwanted guests.

Mushrooms won’t actually harm your grass. In fact, they are a natural part of the life cycle! But since some mushrooms can be poisonous, you may be worried about your kids or pets. Plus, mushrooms can be unsightly as they interrupt your smooth green lawn that you worked so hard to cultivate.

One of the most infuriating aspects of mushrooms is that they seem to pop up overnight. One day your lawn is perfect, and the next day these little invaders have magically appeared! There are several reasons you might discover toadstools when you step outside to retrieve your morning newspaper.

Newly laid sod. Mushrooms often appear in new sod, because frequent irrigation provides the perfect environment for their growth. In this case, the mushrooms will not harm your lawn, and their appearance will usually dwindle as your lawn becomes established and watering frequency is reduced.

Decomposing organic matter. Old tree stumps or other decomposing matter provide the perfect food for mushrooms. Removing dead, rotting plant matter from your yard should discourage the appearance of more mushrooms. You may also need to replace old mulch, and be more careful about

removing animal waste from the yard.

So what can I do? There are six main ways to address a mushroom problem:

  • Remove them by hand
  • Clean up all organic materials that provide food for toadstools
  • Apply a nitrogen-based fertilizer to your lawn and garden, as this can speed up decomposition of organic materials (reducing the mushrooms’ food supply)
  • Cut back on watering your lawn
  • Dethatch and aerate the soil to provide better air movement, which discourages the growth of mushrooms

One common method that is actually somewhat ineffective is the application of fungicides. These work well on fungal life forms that attack your plants, but not so well on mushrooms. This is because most of the mushroom is actually underground, and topical application of chemicals won’t affect them. The part you see is only their fruiting part, so new toadstools will simply pop back up over and over unless you address the underlying reason this fungus so loves your yard!

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