Skip to main content

Is your lawn overrun with mushrooms? Here’s how to get rid of them

red and white mushroom growing in grass
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Mushrooms are good on pizza but not on lawns. Anyone who appreciates a well-groomed lawn, and works hard to keep theirs in tip-top shape, generally hates the sight of mushrooms. Mushrooms may seem to pop up randomly, any time of year, regardless of the lawn’s good health. So, what’s the deal? If your lawn is plagued with mushrooms and you’re ready to make a change, keep reading. We’ll take a look at what they are, why they may be taking over your yard, and what you can do to control them.

What are mushrooms?

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain types of fungi. Most of those found in lawns are classified as “saprophytic,” meaning they colonize and extract nutrients from dead organic matter, at the surface or deep below. When the fungus has fed adequately, and environmental conditions are just right, they produce mushrooms, which emit airborne spores to colonize new areas. The fungus continues to feed and fruit in cycles until the available nutrients have been depleted.

Unlike the microscopic fungi that cause root rot, leaf spots, and other plant diseases, these are mostly harmless to the grass itself. In fact they are soil builders that play an important role in nutrient cycling, which is good for the lawn. The presence of mushrooms is often just an eyesore, but they may be an indication of other problems like thatch buildup, excessive watering, or a dying tree nearby.

How to know if you have a mushroom problem

The appearance of a mushroom, or dozens of them, after a rain event is not an automatic cause for concern. Many of the small, thin types will disappear after a few hours in the sun. Larger, fleshy types can safely be removed by hand and composted or discarded.

Then again, there are truly problematic situations. Some large-growing types can exert enough pressure as they grow to push pavement slabs out of place, other prolific clustering types could smother garden seedlings, and some produce stinky smells or poisonous metabolites. When this is the case, you may wish to take action to control them.

white mushrooms growing in grass near a tree trunk
Image used with permission by copyright holder

7 ways to get rid of mushrooms in the lawn

Chemical controls are not available for lawn mushrooms. Where recurrent problems occur, physical control is necessary to reduce the conditions that favor the invaders. The good news is that these mushroom control methods are also great for the grass.

Control moisture

Mushrooms favor wet weather. If you use a lawn sprinkler, use a rain sensor and moisture meter to discontinue watering as long as the soil is wet after rain.

Aerate the lawn

Soil compaction also promotes fungal growth. Increasing oxygen to the grass root zone will increase the prevalence of worms and other creatures that feed on mycelium.

Remove thatch

Dead organic matter, including lawn thatch, provides a moist safe haven and food source for mushrooms. Removing thatch is good for the grass and bad for fungi.

Let in more sunlight

Bright sunlight makes it difficult for shade-loving mushrooms to grow. Prune low branches on adjacent trees to light up shady, mushroom-prone lawn areas.

Remove the food source

Old tree stumps, dead tree roots, and pet waste provide nutrient sources for mushroom fungi to thrive. Grind old stumps and remove any pieces of dead wood or tree roots. Be diligent about cleaning up pet waste. Sometimes removing the top few inches of soil in the area will help.

Break up mycelium

If fungal growth is preventing water absorption, break it up with a garden fork or hoe.

Remove mushrooms before they open

Allowing mushrooms to mature and spread spores is like letting weeds go to seed. Diligently remove them whenever they appear, ideally before the caps open.

Mushrooms may signify danger

When mushrooms grow at the base of a tree, or appear to radiate from its base, the tree may be dying. Even if the upper parts of the tree appear to be in good health, mushrooms are often a telltale sign that the root structure has become weak. When this happens, large trees are susceptible to blowdown. In fact, anywhere mushrooms grow directly on a tree could become a breakpoint. Consider this a possible warning sign and call a certified arborist to diagnose and treat the issue or remove the tree.

Keep all of this in mind when deciding whether or not mushrooms in your lawn are a problem you need to address. They’re not always an issue, but it’s always worth keeping an eye out and, when necessary, doing what you can to keep them from spreading.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Wolfe
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Mark Wolfe is a freelance writer who specializes in garden, landscaping, and home improvement. After two decades in the…
Hardening off your seedlings as you bring them outside is crucial – here’s how to do it
Tips to help you successfully transplant your seedlings
Seedlings in plant tray

Even gloomy winter days can't stop enthusiastic gardeners. Unsurprisingly, many avid gardeners start their plants indoors when cold temperatures and unpredictable precipitation bar them from directly sowing their seeds outside. Still, the last frost date eventually comes around, and that's when it's time to bring those baby seedlings outside. Transporting seedlings outside is a simple process, but it still requires savvy coordination to prevent unwanted transplant shock. To help you keep your plants happy and healthy as they situate outside, we'll show you how to harden off seedlings.

What does hardening off seedlings mean?

Read more
If your yard gets a lot of afternoon light, these are the afternoon sun plants for you
How to choose and grow plants that will thrive with afternoon sun
Sunlit garden path and flowers

There are many challenges regarding the sun when it comes to gardening. There's too much, then there's too little. For example, some fruit trees thrive in shady backyards — except most trees do require full sunlight. This is why pruning is necessary. And then there are those conditions where too much sun can affect our plants.

Afternoon sun is challenging. Direct sunlight between midday and sunset is the most intense exposure. Although some plants are labeled for "full sun," extended exposure in that hot afternoon sun may be too much — not all these are suitable as afternoon sun plants. This is especially so if the sunlight is further intensified by a wall or fence that traps and reflects the sun’s heat during the day, then continues to radiate heat after sundown. These tough areas require tough plants.

Read more
Gooseneck loosestrife might be the perfect plant for your pollinator garden – here’s what to know
Tips on taking care of your gooseneck loosestrife
Gooseneck loosestrife flowers with a fly

Pollinators come in many sizes and shapes, from beautiful butterflies to fuzzy bees, and even less loveable varieties like wasps and beetles. Pollinators play an important role in our ecosystem, letting fruit grow and seeds develop, and many gardeners enjoy having a pollinator garden to attract and support them.

There are many terrific options you can choose from when planning your pollinator garden, but gooseneck loosestrife is one you may not be familiar with. Aside from its delightfully goofy name, this flower is pretty and pollinators love it. Here’s what you need to know about growing it.
What is gooseneck loosestrife?

Read more