Alberta's Best Garden Blog

Got Mushrooms?

It’s raining, it’s pouring, and mushrooms are sporing out here in Edmonton. If there wasn’t enough to complain about with this unusually cool and rainy summer, we can now add invasive mushrooms to the list. If mushrooms are cramping your yard’s style, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. These tips can help you “bust a cap” on your fungal foes.

How Do Mushrooms Grow on Lawns? Isn’t it interesting how your garden plants take weeks of careful nurturing to grow big and strong, and yet mushrooms seem to appear on your lawn overnight? There are a few factors that create an ideal space for mushrooms to breed, and many of them contribute to why you may not notice them until they’re an eyesore. Those factors are low airflow, high moisture, and an available food source.

The mushrooms you see on your lawn have actually been around for a while, and believe it or not, they’ve mostly been on your side. The organisms that bloom into mushrooms, called mycelium, are actually very large structures that spend most of their lives living undetected under your soil, breaking down decomposing matter into a nice treat for your plants. 

Under the right conditions, like the ones we’ve been having, colonies of mushrooms will explode out of the ground. These mushrooms are actually the “flowers” of the mycelium below the surface, just like the flower buds in your garden. When the weather is cool and damp, the fungus sprouts mushrooms, which release spores that spread the fungus.

Can You Get Rid of Mushrooms Completely?

Honestly, not really—unless you feel like totally paving your lawn, or switching to landscaping stone. And truthfully, eradicating mushrooms isn’t the great idea it sounds like it is. The same fungus that sprouts mushrooms is one of the most effective mechanisms in your soil for converting dead stuff (i.e. plants and animals) into good stuff (i.e. rich, lovely soil).

However, it is possible to control mushrooms so they don’t take over your yard. The key is to tackle the issue as soon as possible.

Controlling Mushrooms on Lawn

The best method for keeping mushrooms under control is to prevent your lawn and garden from becoming a mushroom paradise. That means keeping lawn trimmed and dethatched, aerating your lawn regularly, and fertilizing your lawn annually with nitrogen
Once your lawn has a mushroom “breakout”, try this:

Remove mushroom caps immediately – The sooner you can get rid of the mushrooms, the less time they have to spread spores and sprout even more.

Don’t rake or mow mushroom caps – This will smear spores all over your lawn like peanut butter on toast.

Discard mushrooms properly – Unless you want to turn your whole garden into a mushroom museum, don’t throw the caps into your compost bin! Instead, incinerate them or throw them in the trash.

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Advanced Tips for Controlling Mushrooms

If the mushrooms seem to be filling your yard, spilling out the sides and taking over Edmonton, it’s very possible that you have a drainage problem on your property. Diagnose it by:

Examining the area where the mushrooms are growing – Is it a low spot in the yard? Is it possible water is pooling there and helping mushrooms sprout? If so, mounding soil on the area can help redirect water. Transforming a low area into a water garden or pond can turn a problem into a feature.

Is the soil compacted? – Aeration is important because compacted soils, especially those high in clay, don’t allow water to penetrate the surface. This leads to standing water and, naturally, more mushrooms. Aerating the soil lets the soil breathe and allows water to drain through, which is better for your lawn as well.

Are the mushrooms growing near your gutters? – During periods of heavy rains, the runoff from your eavestroughs may be creating really wet patches in your yard. Consider diverting the flow of water into a rain barrel instead of onto the lawn. This way, you can also conserve water and use it to fill your watering cans.

While I certainly wouldn’t call mushrooms my favourite flower, they do serve a purpose in our wild and wonderful Edmonton ecosystem. We really owe these mushrooms some credit for keeping our soil in decent shape. Keep mushrooms in their place with these control tips, and you can live a long and harmonious life together.

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