With all the rain we’ve gotten recently and the warm temperatures we are getting a lot of calls about mushrooms in lawns. If you have them, as unsightly as they may be, you should actually be happy to see them. Mushrooms are a sign that you have healthy soil in your yard.
Mushrooms are the reproductive part of fungi. All mushrooms are fungi, but mushrooms are not like mildew or other types of fungi. There are more than 144,000 known species, which include mold, yeasts, and rusts. Some mushrooms are edible and safe to eat, while others pose a great risk of harm if consumed or touched—including ones that can grow in your yard.
But as scary as that sounds, mushrooms are a sign of a healthy lawn. So, let’s take a look at why mushrooms in lawns are such a good thing.
How Mushrooms Form
Mushrooms usually emerge out of the ground after heavy rain and when growing conditions are ideal—hot and humid. They’re typically produced above ground, on soil, or on its food source, but don’t stick around very long. They’ll spread their spores, and then go away when the sun comes out and the soil dries up. They’ll disappear as fast as they appear.
Why Mushrooms Grow In Lawns
Remember, mushrooms will grow on their food source, so if you spot some in your yard, there’s a good chance that you have some wood, decaying tree roots, tree leaves, or bark in the soil.
Why? Mushrooms are one of the only types of microbes that can decompose woody material.
Why Mushrooms In Lawn Are A Good Thing
If you have mushrooms in your lawn, it means that there is beneficial microbial activity occurring in your soil.
Microbial activity is important for a series of soil reactions and functions, including:
- Organic matter decomposition
- Humus formation
- Nutrient cycling
- Aggregate formation
In other words, they’re critical when it comes to breaking down organic material.
Don’t Eat Mushrooms In Lawn
Now, just because mushrooms are good for your grass, it doesn’t mean that they’re good for you. Of the 2,500 large, fleshy mushroom species in Michigan, only 60-100 of them are generally regarded as safe to eat.
That’s why there’s a saying that goes… “There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters.” Remember, even “edible” mushrooms need to be handled properly to prevent illness.
Ways To Control Mushrooms In Lawn
Because of the health benefits they provide your soil, you never want to completely get rid of mushrooms. They’re an important part of lawn care.
You can try to reduce the number of mushrooms you have on your lawn by introducing more “leafy” material to your soil. An easy way to do this is by mulching your grass clippings.
You’ll also want to pay attention to how often you’re watering your lawn. Too much much water in the right conditions can cause your lawn to grow mushrooms, even if you don’t want them. Be sure you’re leaving ample time for your lawn to dry between waterings.