Overrun With Mushrooms

Asked October 24, 2018, 1:10 AM EDT

I have about a half acre lawn with about half of the lawn covered with mushrooms. This summer I would spend about an hour or more digging up mushrooms before each mowing of the lawn. I am a care giver to my wife who is a critical cardiac care patient of DHMC. I have spent alot of time recently going to and from DHMC. When I went to mow the lawn for the last time I found more than 40 mushrooms, some are huge balls, and I just don't have the time to dig up all these mushrooms before the last mowing. What do I do in the spring when the lawn needs to be raked? This has been going on now for four years, but each year gets worse until now I don't know what to do or even is I can pay to have it done, because my pension only goes just so far. Can you help me? What can I do with limited resources and strength?

Caledonia County Vermont

3 Responses

The most important thing to understand about mushrooms is that they are simply the above-ground fruiting bodies of fungi that live in the soil. The vast majority of fungal mass is below ground where it goes unseen and unnoticed until mushrooms emerge. The vast majority of fungi are beneficial. They are decomposers that break down dead and decaying organic matter such a stumps, old roots, or leaves. Most mushrooms do not damage lawns or gardens; they are simply an unsightly nuisance.

Mushrooms only grow when environmental conditions are just right. Prolonged periods of wet, humid weather cause fungi to send up fruiting structures. Fungi disperse to new areas via windblown spores. When the spores land in a suitable location they develop into new fungi which will grow mushrooms given enough time.

Mushrooms will go away on their own once the weather dries out. Keep in mind that although these fruiting bodies have disappeared, the fungal mycelia is still growing in the soil. The fungus will continue to grow and persist as long as there is plenty of organic matter to feed upon. Mushrooms will emerge again as soon as the growing conditions are right, which may not be for another year. If you are unwilling to wait for mushrooms to go away on their own, you can remove them by hand or with the lawn mower. Although removing the mushrooms themselves does nothing to affect the fungi in the soil, it will reduce the number of spores released into the environment and the number of new mushrooms in different areas of the lawn and garden.

Fungicides are generally not recommended because they are largely ineffective and mushrooms aren’t damaging anyway.

It's also worth mentioning that many mushrooms are poisonous. Never eat an unknown mushroom unless you are absolutely confident of your identification skills. If you do decide to try eating wild mushrooms, be very cautious and only eat a small amount initially. Even mushrooms that are purportedly edible can make some people very ill.

This information is from:https://extension.unh.edu/blog/mushrooms-in-lawn

My concern was not just for my lawn. I have a farmer's hay field right beside my lawn. I have talked to another farmer I know a couple of towns away and he tells me that if chunks of mushroom get mixed up in his hay bales it would not be good hay, as the cows should not eat mushrooms with their hay. He takes 1/2 cup of battery acid onto each mushroom that he finds and this kills the mushroom down to the roots. Is this a viable option for me? Are mushrooms really bad for cows to digest, or is this just his opinion?

It's good of you to be concerned about your neighbor's hay field and cows. Your lawn isn't likely to be putting the neighboring hay field at risk; but I do worry about your farmer friend a few towns away who is pouring battery acid onto mushrooms in his fields -- that's a terribly toxic approach and I hope the cows don't encounter any of the battery acid.

As mentioned in the article sent with our earlier response: the mushrooms are sprouting where there's likely to be decaying wood or other highly organic matter under your lawn. Removing that matter could be a big job, so your approach -- hand removal of mushrooms or simply mowing them down is probably the least costly approach. As noted: during wet periods, the mushrooms are likely to sprout again; but you can just mow them down again. The earlier you are able to mow (or hand-remove), then the less the mushrooms spores will spread. But there are probably plenty of spores being dispersed (unless the only mushrooms that pop up are on your half-acre lawn...?). Over a long period of time, the mushrooms will probably diminish (and they also are not likely to pop up during long dry periods).

The good news is that many mushrooms -- especially the ones we see popping up on our lawns where some wood may be decaying under the ground -- tend not to be toxic. But as you know: you don't want to assume this and you definitely don't want to eat any to find out. (!)

Your question, "Are mushrooms really bad for cows to digest?" seems to depend upon the kind of mushroom. I read one article that advised farmers to supplement feed with mushrooms to help build their cattle's health....but, of course, that would be terribly unwise if the mushrooms were toxic.

From your second note: it sounds like you may have a crop of puffballs or possibly fairy rings in your lawn. Here is a good article that describes these mushrooms, which are often found at this end of the gardening season in our lawns: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/2006/oct/070101.htm

Once again: despite what you read here about how tasty some of these mushrooms might be: be aware that there are many varieties of each type of mushroom and some that look very similar can be toxic. I hope you'll also read this extension article on the Death Angel mushroom: https://www.uaex.edu/yard-garden/resource-library/plant-week/death-angel-mushroom.aspx

So in conclusion: odds are fairly good that the mushrooms growing in your lawn are not toxic -- but please do not try eating any yourself! You can mow them down as they crop up to help minimize the volume of spores they send out....and you can rake them up in the spring since you've missed the last mowing. (In all likelihood, they'll have dissolved into mushy deposits with the winter and you probably won't find much to rake up in the Spring.) Your neighbor's field probably hosts some mushrooms itself and it sounds as if his herd hasn't suffered to date. I do hope you might find occasion to discourage your more remote farmer friend from pouring battery acid on the mushrooms in his field. Definitely not an organic, health-promoting nutrient for his field!