Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mushrooms in the Lawn

After a long, hot, dry summer that had homeowners watering weekly to keep their landscapes green and growing, the recent rains have provided a welcome reprieve from the task. When the weather cooperates, lawns stay green on their own!

However, when the lawn starts sporting mushroom caps and other unusual fungal growths as an additional effect of that rain, homeowners, especially those with pets and small children, might become concerned.

The UGA publication Recent rains have mushrooms popping up in Georgia lawns, by William Tyson and Tripp Williams, describes several mushroom types that commonly appear after the first rains following a dry spell. Most of these are not harmful to the lawn, but they can mar the expanse of green that a homeowner has worked hard to achieve, and they can be harmful to children and pets who might try to eat them.

Individual mushrooms can be hand-picked from the lawn, and the dog-vomit slime mold (its name pretty much describes its appearance) can be dispersed with a blast from the hose.

The UGA publication provides helpful information for management to reduce the incidence of these fungi in lawns:
"The best way to keep mushrooms out of your landscape is to irrigate before the lawn gets too dry. If it stays somewhat moist, the fungus will stay underground and will not produce mushrooms. The lawns that tend to be covered with the most mushrooms are those that never get watered during droughts.
"To rid your lawn of mushrooms, pull them up, kick them over or run over them with the lawn mower. This will keep them from releasing the spores that spread the fungi. Aerate your lawn to prevent further damage to your turfgrass.

"After aerating the soil, water the area to dilute any toxins and wash them through the soil profile. If a patch of grass is dead, re-establish that area next spring, and keep it moist to prevent new mushroom growth."