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Mushrooms in Your Garden: A Quick Cleanup Guide

The sudden appearance of mushrooms in your garden can be unsettling, indicating shifts in soil and growing conditions. While cultivating mushrooms as a hobby gains popularity, their unplanned presence might not be as welcome in your garden. Moreover, some of these spontaneous guests could be toxic, prompting removal if you have curious children or pets.

Although the sight of mushrooms may stir unease, they pose no threat to soil and plant health. In fact, they can bring about environmental benefits worth considering. Therefore, unless you have concerns about children or pets, mushrooms can stay put. Here, we'll delve into when (and how) to remove them and when it's okay to let them be.

Why Are Mushrooms Growing in My Garden?

Before tackling the removal issue, understanding fungi and why they seem to appear suddenly can be helpful. Many mushrooms sprout under specific environmental conditions, such as damp, shaded areas with decomposing tree stumps, roots, or debris. Mushrooms contain spores released into the air to further spread the fungi.

Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi present in the soil, living for years and only sending up fruiting bodies when conditions are favorable, like after rainfall.

Common Types of Garden Mushrooms

Knowledge is power, and identifying mushrooms allows for better handling of subsequent steps. Here are some of the most common mushrooms found in lawns and gardens, typically discovered on or around mulch, leaf litter, animal droppings, or decaying wood:

Bird's Nest Fungus: Unique and immediately recognizable, resembling small nests with eggs. Non-edible but non-toxic.

Inky Cap: Typically conical, earning its name because the caps turn into inky liquid as they decompose.

Puffballs: Milky white or beige, these spherical mushrooms burst open to release spores. Varying in size, they can expand impressively.

Stinkhorn: Microscopically red, these fungi look striking and emit a strong, unpleasant odor.

Toadstools: Though the definition isn't always fixed, this term usually describes a group of inedible or toxic mushrooms.

Slime Molds: Not true fungi, but often associated with them. They form gelatinous masses, resembling vomit. While not dangerous, they can be unsightly.

How to Rid Your Garden of Mushrooms

If you're concerned about pets or children ingesting mushrooms, manually removing them when spotted is an option. These types of fungi are not controlled by fungicides. With gloves on, you can trim or rake them, disposing of the fragments in a compost heap or a bag in the trash. Alternatively, a strong water spray can break them down. Since mushrooms are just the fruiting bodies of fungi below the soil, removing them won't kill the fungi.

Creating less favorable conditions for fungi in your garden will reduce their appearance. Mushrooms thrive in damp, shaded areas. Water less frequently or earlier in the day, improve drainage, and prune trees and shrubs that create shade. Eventually, the mushrooms will disappear in a few days. Sunny or dry weather will also hasten their disappearance.

FAQs

Are spontaneously appearing mushrooms problematic?

Believe it or not, garden mushrooms can be a sign of healthy soil. Fungi are beneficial, aiding in decomposition processes and returning nutrients to the soil. Some fungi in garden soil have a symbiotic relationship with plants, enhancing root growth and protecting against diseases. When fungi mycelium and plants work together, it's called mycorrhiza.

Should I get rid of mushrooms in my garden?

If you're wondering how to prevent mushrooms from growing in your garden, remember they won't harm grass, plants, or soil. However, larger mushrooms or slime molds might cover plants, turning them yellow. The primary reason for removing fungi is to prevent toxic mushrooms from being consumed by children or pets.