Vail Daily landscape column: Get rid of mushrooms on your lawn

Becky Garber
Landscape Logic
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Have you found mushrooms popping up in the lawn or other areas in your yard?

If so, then you may be wondering what, if anything you should do with them. If you have children or pets, then it’s wise to eradicate the mushrooms. Depending on the variety, mushrooms can be extremely toxic to dogs. They often ingest them unintentionally in the process of grazing on grass.

With more than 50 types of mushrooms common in Colorado, the safest strategy is to get rid of them without creating more in the process.

Mushrooms are a fungus that will sprout in lawns, and other areas in the landscape, when there is a lot of moisture. They spread through spores which thrive on wood and in moist conditions. It’s very common to see them earlier in the year when spring rains create optimal growing conditions. But anytime there is regular moisture like we have had recently, conditions can be just right for growth.

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Dealing with mushrooms

How you handle mushrooms when they pop up is important for long-term control. Spraying the mushroom cap with fungicides is ineffective. The cap is just the fruit of the plant — so spraying it with a fungicide is like trying to treat an entire apple tree for a problem by spraying one apple. It won’t be effective.

The cap or fruit that you see above ground produces the spores that will fall to the ground, germinate and produce more mushrooms. To control future growth, it’s best to take action as soon as you see mushrooms appear. Here are tips to follow:

Avoid kicking at mushrooms to dislodge them as this will spread spores.

Remove mushrooms before mowing the lawn as mowing also spreads spores.

Do not put picked mushrooms in the compost pile as spores will create more mushrooms.

Instead, carefully pick them using a plastic bag (such as the sleeve the newspaper comes in) over your hand. Place picked mushrooms in another plastic bag, close it and dispose of the bag.

Keep the lawn mowed and mow it shorter as short grass will dry out more quickly. Longer grass retains moisture that is conducive to mushroom growth.

If you find mushrooms growing in wood mulch, remove the mushrooms and turn the mulch so that it dries out.

Ultimately, when weather conditions dry out, mushrooms will stop growing. And if children or pets are not in your back yard, leaving mushrooms alone is not necessarily bad either. Mushrooms help decompose organic matter and release nutrients that are good for plant growth. So if you don’t have children or pets in the back yard, then dealing with mushrooms is one less chore you have to do.

Becky Garber is a member of the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado of which Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company, is a member. You may contact them at 970-468-0340.

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