Mushroom growth in your backyard can actually be a good thing because it means you have a healthy ecosystem in your lawn. However, if you have children or dogs, they can become a source of concern. Not only that, but mushrooms can just be plain unsightly to look at. If you’ve been wondering how to get rid of backyard mushrooms, we’ll go over everything you need to know in this article.
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What Causes Mushrooms to Grow in My Backyard?
Because mushrooms spread very easily once they pop up, it can be challenging to get them under control. Mushroom growth is a pretty simple formula of elements, and when conditions are right, you can expect to see some mushrooms pop up. Once you know what causes mushrooms to pop up and spread, you can easily determine where the problem areas are to help remove them and prevent them in the future.
You may have noticed mushrooms pop up seemingly overnight after a rain shower the night before. Moisture is one of the main ingredients that cause mushrooms to pop up in your backyard.
Organic matter is the second piece of the puzzle when it comes to what makes mushrooms grow. Fungi grow by breaking down organic matter, such as remanents of tree roots, a stump, or buried timber.
The last part of the mushroom recipe is shade. Not all backyard mushrooms thrive in the shade, but there are a lot of varieties that do. When you bring the right combination of moisture, organic matter, and shade, you can expect to see some mushrooms pop up.
How to Get Rid of Backyard Mushrooms
While you may be tempted to go over your lawn with a lawnmower to get rid of all of the new mushroom growth, this may actually make matters worse. Mushrooms spread spores through the air, causing more and more mushrooms to pop up. Below is a simple step by step process that will teach you how to properly get rid of backyard mushrooms so that you don’t have to worry about more popping up.
Step One: Remove Existing Mushrooms
As mentioned above, mushrooms release spores causing more mushrooms to appear. If you leave mushrooms in your backyard for too long, they will release the spores, and you’ll have an even bigger issue on your hands.
As soon as you see any new mushrooms, simply pluck them out of the ground.
Step Two: Properly Dispose of Mushrooms
Properly disposing of mushrooms is a key step in preventing more growth. Rather than tossing them into a compost pile, you’ll want to separate the mushrooms from your backyard entirely.
Grab a plastic bag, and put them into the bag as soon as you take them out of the ground. Once the bag of mushrooms is full, tie it up and toss it into the trashcan. Doing it this way will help prevent the mushrooms from spreading more spores in your backyard.
Step Three: Apply a Nitrogen Fertilizer
Applying a nitrogen fertilizer will quicken the decomposition of organic matter. This leaves mushrooms nothing to feed off of, and deters them from growing in the matter.
You’ll need about one pound of nitrogen for every thousand square feet of your backyard. Avoid using slow-release or water-soluble nitrogen fertilizer.
For the best results, do this annually.
Step Four: Use Soapy Water to Kill of Mushrooms
Mix about two tablespoons of dish soap with 2 gallons of water. Use a shovel to poke holes in the soil around the mushrooms, and fill the holes with the soapy water mixture.
How to Get Rid of Backyard Fairy Rings
Fairy rings are rings of mushrooms growing in the grass. They’re typically fairly easy to spot, but sometimes the mushroom caps aren’t visible. In this case, the fairy ring will appear as a ring of dark green grass or a circle of dead grass.
Step One: Determine How Deep the Fairy Rings Have Grown
Grab a shovel and dig around the mushrooms. You may see some white, fibrous material in the soil, known as the fungal mat. If the fungal mat is very thick, you may need a different method of removing the ring.
Step Two: Remove Fairy Rings
If the fungal mat is fewer than 3 inches thick, use a lawn aerator. Start aerating two feet outside of the outer rim and work your way inward toward the center of the ring.
Use a shovel to dig out fairy rings as well as the soil that contained the mushrooms. Once you have removed the mushrooms, you’ll need to expand the area you dug by at least one foot, but up to two feet is ideal. There are even some experts that recommend digging to the center of the ring.
As you dig out the fairy ring, try to determine what caused it to grow in the first place. Organic matter like rotting wood or anything that would keep the water from draining could be causing the growth and should be removed as you dig.
Step Three: Properly Dispose of Mushrooms and Soil
As with removing single mushrooms, you’ll want to avoid spores from spreading throughout your backyard. With fairy rings, you’ll not only want to dispose of the mushrooms but the soil nearby as well.
Toss everything you dug up into a large garbage bag, tie it tightly, and toss it in the garbage.
Step Four: Add Fresh Soil and Grass
After digging up the fairy ring, you’ll be left with an unsightly hole in your backyard. When you refill the area, you dug up, make sure to avoid using immature compost as it could contain mushroom spores.
Instead, using mature compost can help with soil drainage and will be sterilized in the composting process. If you use heavy clay soil, add some sand to the mixture to help soil drainage.
Although the grass will regrow on its own, it can take a bit of time. If you want your yard to look as good as new again, you can cover the soil with fresh sod or sprinkle some grass seeds over the area.
How to Prevent Mushrooms from Growing Back
Although properly disposing of mushrooms and fairy rings will help control the mushroom growth in your backyard, there is still a reason that they grew in the first place. By going through the method below, you can further prevent mushrooms from growing back again.
Step One: Make Sure Your Backyard Has Proper Drainage
As we mentioned earlier in the article, mushrooms thrive in damp environments. If your backyard is holding too much water, you’ll want to make sure that it drains properly.
To introduce proper drainage to your backyard, refer to the ideas below:
- Water flowing down a slope: If there is an area where water flows down a slope, build up the soil in a way that redirects the excess water to a better location, such as a pond or garden.
- Excess water during storms: If water is building up after storms, try placing rain barrels beneath waterspouts to collect the excess water while it storms. This keeps the water from soaking into the yard.
- Stagnant water: Adding an underground drain can help disperse water and keep it from becoming stagnant under your yard, fixing a multitude of drainage issues.
Step Two: Make Sure Your Backyard Has Well-Drained Soil
If your yard has a clay base, the water will soak through your lawn and have nowhere to go, allowing it to sit and become stagnant. If you’re able to, mix sand or another well-draining material into your yard to help disperse the water.
When watering your backyard, aim to water it in the morning rather than at night. The sun will cause excess water to evaporate rather than sit and cause mushrooms to breed.
Step Three: Minimize Shade
Fungi thrive in shady areas, so the more you can minimize shade, the better.
Cut close to the trunk, right beyond the bark ridge, and do not leave any stubs. When cutting, angle downward so that rainwater doesn’t collect in the hole and cause rot.
Trim out any dead or diseased branches to help keep your trees from developing fungus.
Dethatching the lawn will not only minimize shade but creates more air circulation. Manually go over your backyard with a convex rake. You could also rent a power rake from a hardware store.
Once finished power raking your yard, use a standard rake to sweep up leftover debris.
For cool-season grasses, dethatch your backyard between late summer and early fall. For warm-season grasses, you will want to dethatch toward the end of spring.
Step Four: Aerate Your Lawn
If your backyard does not have enough air circulation, it can lead to trapped moisture. Use an aerator and go over your yard with it to pull out plugs of earth. This loosens the soil to let more air in.
For the best plug aerators, check out this article.
Step Five: Remove Decaying Elements
Any decaying elements or organic matter are going to give mushrooms something to feed of. Remove any small branches or decomposing wood chips. Removing tree stumps can help as well.
After mowing your lawn, rake up grass clippings or attach a grass catcher to your mower.
If you have any pets, be sure to clean up their waste as soon as you can to prevent mushrooms from feeding off it.
If you’ve been wondering how to get rid of backyard mushrooms, then hopefully this article answered any questions you may have had. Properly removing mushrooms and fairy rings will make it so that more mushrooms don’t pop up as soon as the others are gone. Although mushrooms can be a healthy addition to your backyard, they can not only be unsightly to look at, but also be a cause for concern if you have children or dogs. Once you remove mushrooms, just make sure that you take preventative measures to keep them from coming back and you’ll have a fungi-free backyard!
Are backyard mushrooms toxic to dogs? Read more about which mushrooms can be toxic to your pets in this article.