What causes mushrooms in your lawn? Four ways to BANISH pesky fungi

Amanda Owen asks foraging expert about 'safe' mushrooms

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Toadstools are a naturally occurring fungus that can crop up in clusters on your garden lawn and are rife at this time of year. While they may seem like a nuisance, mushrooms are not always a sign of an unhealthy lawn – in fact, they can signal quite the opposite. There are a few natural remedies for dealing with a shroom covered lawn, but first, you should identify the root cause.

What causes mushrooms in your lawn?

Mushrooms can be a sign of fungi rich soil which indicates a healthy, living lawn.

The fact that mushrooms can grow on your lawn indicates that your garden grass is packed with beneficial microbes which are hard at work.

According to experts at Rolawn, there are fungi in all turf, adding: “There are hundreds, possibly thousands of fungi, though few produce toadstools and mushrooms.

“Fungi are the most active of all micro-organisms in turf as they help degrade thatch and other organic debris and supply the turf with nutrients.”

The fungi that do display themselves will present as mushrooms on your lawn – these produce the fruit or seed of the fungus.

On a new lawn, toadstools are more common because disruption to the turf can stimulate the fungi which eventually turns into these mushroom clusters.

Established lawns can grow visible mushrooms when the soil is filled with organic debris – either on or under the lawn.

Active spores can be carried into the garden by animals or wind which can also result in mushroom growth.

How to remove mushrooms from lawn

While a few mushrooms are not a bad thing, they can be harmful to pets and humans if eaten, so it’s best to get rid of them to avoid a nasty run-in with this potentially fatal form of fungus.

There are two main methods of removing mushrooms and both of them require very little time at all:

  1. You can remove them quite quickly with just your hands but you should always wear gloves when doing so
  2. A box lawnmower can also be used to collect active fungi growing in your garden

When you have removed fungi from your lawn, be sure to add them to your compost heap to activate the decomposition of the existing organic matter.

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How to prevent mushrooms on lawns

You can prevent mushrooms from cropping up in large numbers using two methods – scarifying your lawn, or digging for debris.

Scarify to prevent mushrooms

According to Rolawn, you can reduce the amount of thatch by scarifying the lawn and then reducing the amount of fertiliser applied to the lawn.

Dig for debris

Do a thorough check for debris under your lawn to prevent organic matter from encouraging mushrooms to present on the surface of garden turf.

Use a pocket knife to dig underneath an existing clump of toadstools and seek out debris – if your mushrooms are growing from organic debris and not the lawn itself, replace the turf.

Are mushrooms on my lawn dangerous?

There is no fungicide treatment available in the UK because it is unnecessary to treat harmless fungi – in fact, it can even be beneficial to your lawn.

Of the 15,000 species of mushrooms in the UK, 99 percent are edible – but even experts have a hard time figuring out which ones are poisonous.

If your garden is regularly used by dogs or young children, it’s important to be cautious of all wild mushrooms which could be detrimental to the health of both humans and dogs if ingested.

A list of some poisonous mushrooms found in the UK include:

  • Fly agaric – the iconic fairy tale mushroom with the red spotted cap
  • Jewelled death cap – this mushroom has a yellow cap with white spots
  • Death cap – responsible for the most fatal mushroom poisonings in both people and pets
  • Autumn galerina – small brown and have a flatter cap than others and can often be found growing from decayed wood
  • Elf’s saddle – a dark ‘saddle’ shaped cap and a white stem

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