As a professional lawn care company we often get asked this question. Often lawn owners are concerned at the sudden outbreak of mushrooms (fungi) growing all over their lawn, but there is no need to be concerned about this as they can actually be beneficial to your lawn.
The Mushroom or fungus, is an organism whose body consists of root like threads. Mushrooms (sometimes referred to as toadstools) are the reproductive structures of fungi. The “fruit” of a fungus.
There are many different types of fungi, all producing different fruits, i.e. different types of mushroom. Fungal fruits can come in all different shapes and sizes, not just the mushroom shape that we are all familiar with.
If your lawn’s soil is healthy with good organic matter, Mushrooms will grow in your lawn as these conditions are perfect for fungi. They love damp and carbon rich soil, so usually after an extended period of rain and cool weather with decaying organic matter in the soil you may see a variety of fungi growing. Organic matter is found in soil of healthy lawns. When leaves, bark, tree roots, animal waste, and grass clippings decompose in the soil, fungi will naturally occur.
Although mushrooms in your lawn may look unsightly, they are actually beneficial to your lawn. The extensive root system of lawn mushrooms help the soil retain water and lawn mushrooms also help to break down organic materials, which help add nutrients to the lawn.
On the underside of a mushroom you will see many blades; these blades are referred to as gills and within the gills are millions of spores. It is the spores that are responsible for the reproduction of the fungus. The spores are carried in the air and when they reach a suitable area they begin to germinate and send out long thin strands or filaments. These filaments are called Hyphae. Single Hyphae are usually invisible to the naked eye but can sometimes be seen in particularly dark soil or on damp, decomposing bark.
Apart from the few weeks a year that the fungi are in fruit, the Hyphae are of benefit to your soil by helping to decompose leaves and other organic matter. The good thing about the fruits is they should only last a few weeks, unfortunately the only way to prevent them from coming up totally is to ensure that there is no Hyphae within the soil, to remove this would be an impossible task to achieve and would probably mean removing and replacing the soil on an annual basis.
Besides spoiling the look of an otherwise healthy lawn, the main concern for most lawn owners are that some mushrooms are poisonous and pose a risk to pets or young children. It’s not possible to eliminate mushroom growth in your lawn. There is always something decaying in soil. Removing all of that decomposing organic matter would actually be detrimental to the lawn anyway.
If you really don’t want Mushrooms in your lawn there then you will need to get mowing, raking or pulling/kicking them out. But remember as conditions change, the mushrooms will disappear. Since they need moisture to grow, as the area dries out mushrooms will not survive.