I had a customer email me this week in a panic because mushrooms had sprouted up all over her lawn. I am sure many of you have had this same problem on your lawn at one point or another and wondered, “How did those get there?”

Lawn mushrooms are a type of fungus. The good news is DON’T PANIC! The presence of mushrooms in the lawn means that there is a lot of decaying organic matter in your soil and the mushrooms are helping in breaking it down to a beneficial source of nutrients for your grass. Other then not looking very nice in the well manicured lawn, they really do not have any negative effect on it.

Now the next thing to understand is why are they there? My first question to customers who come into the garden center with this problem is have you recently taken a tree down in the area or removed any shrubs? Many times after a tree is cut down the stump and roots are left in the ground to naturally decay. This is an excellent source of nutrients for mushrooms to develop. Mushrooms can also develop from dead grass clippings that are left on the lawn or when there is a heavy layer of thatch in the grass as both are excellent sources of organic matter for mushrooms to feed off. They also tend to flourish in damp wet shady areas of the lawn. Since mushrooms spread from spores in the air, they could come from somewhere else in your neighborhood.

You can do a few things to help eliminate mushrooms. First if the lawn is too wet, try and correct the drainage in the area. Raking up your grass clippings after every cutting and de-thatching your lawn once a year will also help. If the lawn is too shady, some thinning of trees and shrubs will help let more sunlight into the lawn area. If you have just taken out a tree then the only thing you can do is dig up the stump and as many roots as possible and then let the rest de-compose naturally which won’t take that long. Spraying a fungicide on the lawn may help a little but the part of the mushroom that you see is pretty small compared to what is underneath the ground so that is like trying to take out a tank with a BB gun.

So if you have mushrooms, take it as a compliment. You have a lot of rich organic matter in the soil underneath your grass!