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During the cooler months of the year, the conditions in our lawns can often be dark and damp – the perfect environment for mushrooms. But is this a good thing or a bad thing?
What are mushrooms?
All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungus and appear above ground when conditions are right – that is, warm and humid or cool and damp. Mushrooms have a cap and a spore-bearing surface (‘gills’) that allow it to reproduce and spread by dispersing spores.
Why are there mushrooms in my lawn?
Many fungi thrive in cool, damp conditions, which promote fruiting. Mushrooms are a great sign that you have lots of organic matter in your soil, which is good news for your lawn. They also help break down organic material, animal waste and create more nutrient-rich, productive soil.
Overall, mushroom growth can be equated to a healthy lawn with healthy soil. You can regularly find mushrooms growing near tree stumps and grass clippings. While normally, mushrooms and toadstools are nothing to worry about, you should be aware of whether the species in your garden could potentially pose a hazard to pets or plants. In this case, you’ll want to get rid of the unwanted mushrooms.
Are fungi good or bad for the garden?
Fungi can have both positive and negative effects on the garden, depending on the specific types and circumstances. Here are some key points to consider:
Many types of fungi are beneficial for the garden. For example:
- Mycorrhizal Fungi: these fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, aiding in nutrient uptake, especially phosphorus. They extend the root system and improve the overall health and growth of plants.
- Decomposers: certain fungi break down organic matter, such as dead plant material, into nutrients that enrich the soil. They contribute to the natural recycling process, improving soil fertility.
- Predatory Fungi: some fungi are natural predators of harmful pests, including nematodes and insects. They help control the population of these pests, reducing the need for chemical pesticides.
While there are beneficial fungi, some types can also cause problems in the garden:
- Pathogenic Fungi: certain fungi cause diseases in plants, leading to reduced growth, wilting, and even death. Examples include powdery mildew, damping-off fungi, and various root rot pathogens.
- Parasitic Fungi: parasitic fungi directly attack living plants, causing damage and potentially killing them. Rusts and smuts are examples of parasitic fungi.
- Toxin-producing Fungi: some fungi produce toxins, such as certain species of mushrooms, which can be harmful if ingested by humans or animals.
Maintaining a balanced fungal ecosystem in the garden is crucial. Beneficial fungi can be encouraged by providing organic matter, avoiding excessive use of fungicides, and practising proper sanitation and plant care. It's also important to identify and manage harmful fungi promptly to minimise their impact on the garden.
How can I prevent mushrooms from appearing in my lawn?
Mushrooms themselves do not do any damage to your lawn, so they are nothing to seriously worry about. If you don’t like the way they look or are worried about your pets eating them, you can easily remove them by hand. But it usually doesn’t take long for the favourable growing conditions to change, leading them to naturally disappear on their own.
If you have ongoing issues with mushrooms, it suggests that your lawn is too wet. Try watering your grass in the morning or during the day rather than in the evening to allow the moisture time to dissipate and absorb. If this isn’t enough to solve the problem, you may need to find a way to improve drainage.
Drainage and absorption of water are both impaired when soil is compacted, which encourages mushrooms. Aerating your lawn will improve drainage and allow oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the roots of your lawn.
Finally, mushrooms thrive in the shade, so make sure you trim back your trees regularly to provide your grass with more sunlight, which allows the grass to grow and release oxygen. By keeping all of these tips in mind, you can easily get rid of mushrooms from your garden, manage excess moisture, and avoid fungal growth in the future.
Should I encourage mushroom growth or prevent it?
Encouraging or preventing mushroom growth in your garden depends on your specific goals and circumstances. Here are some factors to consider:
- Aesthetics and personal preference - mushrooms can add a unique and natural aesthetic to a garden. If you enjoy the appearance of mushrooms and appreciate the ecological benefits they bring, you may choose to encourage their growth. However, if you prefer a more manicured look or have concerns about certain mushroom species, you may want to prevent their growth.
- Ecosystem Health - mushrooms play an essential role in ecosystem functioning by breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients. They contribute to the overall health of the soil and can benefit plants. If you prioritise a healthy and balanced ecosystem in your garden, you may want to encourage mushroom growth.
- Mushroom identification - not all mushrooms are harmless, and some species can be toxic if ingested. If you are uncertain about the identification of mushrooms in your garden and have concerns about potential toxicity, it is generally recommended to prevent their growth or kill mushrooms promptly to ensure safety.
If you choose to encourage mushroom growth, provide the necessary conditions for their development, such as providing organic matter and maintaining suitable moisture levels.
However, if you decide to prevent their growth, ensure proper garden hygiene, minimise organic debris, and consider adjusting environmental factors that promote mushroom growth, such as excess moisture and poor drainage.
If you have any questions about lawn maintenance and care or growing mushrooms in your garden, please contact our friendly team at an time.