Mushrooms may be welcome on many people’s plates, but when it comes to lawns, most people want them gone. Most mushrooms aren’t any danger to your lawn (watch out for fairy rings though!) but can prove to be a pesky eyesore. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some poisonous and some non-toxic. If you have curious pets or little ones that play on the lawn, mushrooms can be a major concern. Getting rid of them can prove to be difficult though, but understanding where they’re coming from and how they spread can help you fight them off.
Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a mycelium (pronounced my-helium). Mycelia feed off of decaying matter like mulch, fallen leaves, old tree stumps or roots, and animal waste. The mycelium in your lawn forms under the soil and when it’s time to reproduce, the mushrooms form. The mushrooms release their spores into the air and when they land in a compatible environment, a new mycelium is formed; spores can even be in soil for years before conditions are adequate for growth. So when you mow over the mushrooms in your lawn or spend countless hours picking them only to see them pop back up, it’s because the source is safe and sound under the soil.
If you want to get rid of mushrooms, you need to get rid of their food source (and any potential food sources) as well as the mycelium. If you don’t mind them too much, you can pick them (minimize spore dispersal by picking them before the caps open), kick them over, or mow them. Whether you decide to try to get the mushrooms out of your lawn or live with them, always remember, do NOT eat them. Only a mycologist should determine whether or not a mushroom is safe to eat; many poisonous specimens look similar to their non-toxic counterparts.