Why are mushrooms growing in my yard? Like these lawn-popping creatures, this question might pop into your head after noticing their unsolicited presence. Don’t jump to conclusions yet! Diverse species of these fungi exist– and they have just as diverse reasons for visiting you, spring through autumn. Mushrooms, like other living organisms, can arise naturally, playing an irreplaceable role in the ecosystem. Let's break down all the fun facts about these mysterious visitors!
What Are Lawn Mushrooms?
Lawn mushrooms are any type of ground-emerging macrofungi found sprouting from your lawn. These are most often from the Class Basidiomycetes, characterized by their distinctive fruiting body–bearing caps and a stalk. After spending most of their life underground, their sexual stage emerges triumphantly to pour its spores into the world (and other lawns!).
Mushrooms Growing in my Yard – A Good or A Bad Thing?
Mushrooms growing in your yard is often a good sign! As decomposers of dead organic matter, it is a sign that your garden is healthy. Here are some of the pros and cons of lawn mushrooms:
- They maintain the equilibrium of other microorganism’s underground activity, which benefits your plants in general.
- During the fungi’s decomposition process, many digested nutrients are released, preparing nice meals for your plants!
- Some mushrooms tend to team up with trees, encapsulating their roots and extending their root systems, resulting in a healthier and more drought-resistant tree.
- Why do mushrooms grow in my yard? Certain species of mushroom prefer damp environments and can be an indicator that the soil is boggy. So, if you grow moisture-sensitive plants, be mindful!
- A particularly iconic species, the Fairy-ring, may impede the water’s percolation into the soil, causing the water to seemingly run off the surface. This can result in problematic puddles on your turf.
Why Do Mushrooms Grow in My Yard?
Why Do Mushrooms Grow in My Yard?
Some look up at the stars and wonder what we’re here for. For us, we prefer to ask ‘why do I have mushrooms in my lawn?’. Your answer can be found in the following reasons:
The presence of mushrooms in backyard is simply a part of nature. Mushrooms have formations called mycelia, a root-like organ underground, subsisting on any carbon-rich substrate to feed itself and spread. At the end of their life cycle and detritus-feeding activity, they will produce their happy little fruiting bodies, mushrooms, reproduce sexually through spores.
When there are mushrooms, there is likely a rich, microorganism-friendly soil! You may have plant and animal composting to thank for that. When these unseen friends make a living under the soil, your plant thrives! Fungi can release beneficial nutrients, useful compounds, and hormones that can make plants resist diseases and dry spells.
Dark and Damp Conditions
Mushrooms are delicate organisms composed mainly of water, but their fruiting bodies are not blessed with any water-conserving morphology. For this reason, they prefer growing in less sunny areas and boggy conditions, allowing them to make their offspring healthy and long-lasting.
Things that Trigger Lawn Mushroom Growth
Why do I have mushrooms growing in my yard? If you’re looking for a definitive answer, here are some of the reasons that could help explain:
Long Periods of Rain
Mushrooms in yard after rain flaunt their beautiful caps. Prolonged downpours can reactivate dormant mycelia or spores underground. Abundance of soil water signals mushrooms that the environmental conditions are conducive to their growth and development. That is why, if you want to go mushroom hunting in the forest, look for it a day or two after the rain!
Overwatering Your Lawn
If you overwater your lawn, you recreate boggy or post-rain soil conditions, stimulating the moisture-loving shrooms in your backyard. This may not be a bad thing, but if you have a plant sensitive to wet environments, take care to not over-water, and consider improving the soil’s drainage.
Heavily Compacted Soil
Compacted soil is usually devoid of drainage; hence, it is not surprising that it traps much more moisture than regular soil. The accumulation of water on the surface is the ideal breeding ground for many fungi to appear.
Over time, your thatch can pile up layers of organic matter on the soil surface. When this happens, it attracts mushrooms to feed on, explaining their unexpected appearance on the surface. A thick thatch often holds the right moisture for friendly fungi to thrive.
Too Much Decaying Matter
If you are wondering why’re mushrooms growing in my yard, you might have added lots of waste matter, including compost, animal manure, leaf litter, grass hay, or any carbon-rich substance, which are food for fungi. What decomposer could resist a feast in your garden!
Ever wonder why mushrooms are unsurprisingly typical in fall or spring? Simply because the change of season–where temperature cools down, and precipitation levels increase–implies a green flag for them to bring forth to their offspring.
Common Mushrooms Growing in My Lawn
Mushrooms in lawn, either good or bad, play an indispensable role in ecology, and the following list will help you identify which you’re looking at:
White Mushrooms in Yard
Why are white mushrooms growing in my yard? Good news: your garden is rich in organics, and may include any species below:
Field or Meadow Mushroom (Agaricus campestris)
A close relative of the button mushrooms, these white mushrooms are also edible, recognizable for their brown gills and large caps measuring 2-4 in (3-10 cm) in diameter. When split, the flesh turns pinkish. They are widely distributed all over the world, happily thriving on grassy weed meadows–their favorite substrate–hence their name.
Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea)
Common in Europe and North America, it is distinguishable with its large, globular, sometimes deformed, body. They often emerge after a prolonged rain on lawns, appearing marshmallowy and white when young. Unlike other mushrooms, this edible fungi’s stem is absent! Still, it grows up to 4-28 in (10-70 cm) across and can surprisingly grow twice the average under favorable conditions!
Green-Spored Parasol (Chlorophyllum molybdites)
Like the meadow mushroom, the green-spored parasol is white but has a scaly cap and sometimes has a brownish center. Commonly found in the US, this oversized mushroom–measuring 8-20 cm long and 10 to 15 cm long caps–can change its color as it matures! Pure white when young, turning grayish, the Green-Spored Parasol finally becomes green to greenish brown after a few days.
Black Mushrooms in Yard
If you stumble upon black mushrooms in your backyard, the chances are you are looking at one of the following:
Common Stinkhorn (Phallus impudicus)
Once you smell it, you'll definitely know of the stinkhorn’s presence, often described as rotten meat. Measuring 3-5 in long, its shape bears a shaggy false cap (gleba), where the spores are, hitching a ride on any flies that attempt to land. They are regular visitors in damp and shady places and emerge from the egg-like structures called vulva.
Shaggy Ink Cap (Coprinus comatus)
As the name implies, the shaggy ink cap has curled scales. At its maturity, the off-white ovoid cap breaks open to release the spore. The gills disintegrate and drop like a splattered ink. Measuring 3-16 in (6-40 cm) long with caps 1-2 in (3-5 cm) wide, these non-edible but non-poisonous mushrooms are prevalent on lawns and roadsides.
Blackening Waxcap (Hygrocybe conica)
Occurring worldwide, blackening waxcap is not an unsurprising mushroom species in short turf and lawns. They usually appear in summer and autumn, lasting a few weeks. The 1-3-inch wide basidiocarp or the fruiting body is brown to red-orange and turns glossy black at its terminal phase. There has been no record of poisoning yet, but for many, they are thought to be poisonous.
Brown Mushrooms in Yard
Mushrooms growing in lawn with brown-colored cap may be one of the following:
Ringless Honey Mushroom (Armillaria tabescens)
Growing near dead trees, these brown edible mushrooms are also a casual visitor on your lawn, typically seen in aggregates. The stalks measure around 2-3 in (5-7 cm), while the caps are 1-4 in (2-10 cm) wide. They have also interesting traits: at night, they bioluminesce, glowing right there on your lawn! Unfortunately, these mushrooms also attack trees, causing root rot. While they are known to be edible, cautiously pick the ones growing near dead woods to avoid confusion to other species.
Mower’s Mushrooms (Panaeolus foenisecii)
This is a frequently seen brown mushroom around the world. Its white to brown stalk can reach up to 2-3 in (4-6 cm), upholding umbrella-shaped striated caps expanding up to 3 cm across, and is identifiable by a dark edge which changes color with age and the amount of water absorbed. It has little toxicity, but can be fatal when consumed by children or pets.
Fairy Ring Mushroom (Marasmius oreades)
Typically growing in a circular pattern on lawns, Fairy Ring Mushroom lives up to its name. It may be ugly when the patches turn brown, so consider removing them when they affect the uniformity of your backyard. Ubiquitous in North America, they typically appear in summer to late autumn and year-round in warm climates. They can be identified by its thick and spaced gills, thin but rigid stipes measuring 2-3 inches (2-6 cm), and a flaring brown 1–2 in (2-5 cm) cap.
Are Mushrooms in My Lawn Dangerous?
The mushrooms on grass growing out of your lawn are probably harmless, but it pays to be extra cautious. Better safe than sorry! However, listening to all the horror stories won't do you any good. No need to panic if you see some garden visitors and trample them. Show them some hospitality.
Can You Eat Mushrooms from Your Backyard?
Most mushrooms growing in your backyard are likely to be edible. In fact, less than 5% is known to cause any harm! However, be incredibly sure to correctly identify it to prevent any unwanted gastrointestinal upset or poisoning.
Are Mushrooms Growing In Lawn Poisonous to Dogs and Cats?
Most mushrooms in the lawn are unlikely to be poisonous to dogs and cats. However, as your pets typically sniff and probe what they see in the lawn, we suggest not letting your pets consume it as an extra precautionary measure.
Now you can finally go out and face your fungi visitors fully prepared. No need for any worry! Make some cute friends in caps.
Should I Remove Mushrooms from My Lawn?
Unless it's a fairy-ring species, we do not suggest removing them. Most mushrooms decompose in a few days anyway! If you’re allergic to spores, you can consider removing them before their caps open.
How Do I Stop Mushrooms from Growing in My Backyard?
You can try various solutions to solve your mushroom problems; plucking them before their gills open, controlling irrigation and incorporating sand rather than organic matter into your lawn, or applying nitrogen to the mushroom-infested area to help decompose the matter faster.
How to Prevent Mushrooms Growing in My Backyard?
If you’re sure you want to control mushrooms from puffing out in your yard, consider improving the drainage with sand, rather than adding plant or animal-based matter. Pruning some branches in shady spots could also reduce the possibility of their emergence.