'Why are mushrooms growing in my garden?' is a question you’ve probably asked yourself a few times over the past couple of weeks. That’s because these fairytale-esque toadstools seem to have popped up out of nowhere, overtaking lawns, invading flowerbeds, and adding another task to your list of garden jobs to do in August.
But this fungus isn’t nearly as fun or magical as we think it is. Like moss and weeds, mushrooms can devastate the look of your lawn and even be poisonous to dogs and cats. That’s why it’s important to understand why mushrooms are growing in your garden and what you can do about them in the long run. And no, eating them is not an option!
We’ve asked gardening experts to share their tips on why mushrooms are growing in your garden, what to do if this fungus pops up, and how to stop these pesky mushrooms from growing in your garden in the future. This is what they had to say.
Why are mushrooms growing in my garden?
'If you have mushrooms growing in your lawn this summer, then you are not alone,' says garden expert Laura Andrews at The Planting Company. In fact, the whole country is battling the same problem at the moment, largely due to our very British summer… which involves a whole lot of rain.
Yes, with uncharacteristically high levels of rain this summer, mushrooms in British gardens have been able to flourish. They thrive when their environmental conditions are wet, warm, and humid, and so our summer has given them a chance to take over our lawns.
But that’s not all. Mushrooms also grow rapidly when there’s decaying organic matter present. So, if you’ve cut your grass and have leftover grass clippings sitting on your lawn or you’ve added to your compost heap over the past few weeks, this would also increase your chances of having mushrooms growing in your garden.
However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 'Lots of people believe that mushrooms are a sign of poor lawn health,' explains Laura. 'However, they only grow when the soil is healthy, and more importantly, they don’t cause any harm to your grass.' That doesn’t mean that everyone wants mushrooms in their garden, though.
What to do if you have mushrooms
Because they only really thrive in such specific conditions, you don’t have to worry about mushrooms sticking around for too long. This pesky fungus will eventually go away on its own when the weather starts to change, and the growing conditions are no longer ideal. So, you can leave them be if you want to.
If you don’t like the look of mushrooms or are worried about their potential to be poisonous, however, you can remove them yourself. 'Pull the mushrooms out of the grass from the base, as this will help stop the spread and will reduce the risk of children or pets eating them,' explains Laura.
Alternatively, you could use a specialized tool to remove mushrooms from your garden. 'Mushrooms are a really good sign that you have healthy soil. If you can allow them to grow, they will not harm your plants,' says Rebecca Searle from Sow Much More. 'If you want to get rid of them, simply hoeing them with a hand hoe is the best way.'
This Japanese weeding tool will make the work of getting rid of mushrooms easier and, unlike larger options, will allow you to more easily protect surrounding plants.
Of course, it's a whole different ball game if you have mushrooms growing on your trees. 'If you see mushrooms growing on the trees in your garden, it’s worth getting in an expert to check them over as it’s usually a sign that they’re dying,' explains Calum Maddock at HomeHow.co.uk.
How to stop mushrooms from growing
Sometimes prevention is better than the cure, which is why you might want to stop mushrooms from growing in your garden altogether. There are a few different ways to do this.
Cut your grass regularly: While there’s still a question mark around whether you should cut wet grass, cutting your grass regularly could prevent mushrooms from growing in your garden.
'Short grass dries faster, so this will reduce the level of moisture for mushrooms to grow. Remember to ensure your lawnmower blade is sharp so that the grass is cut cleanly, leaving less grass cuttings on the lawn. If you do have excess lawn cuttings on the grass, then try to rake these up afterward as these are another food source for mushrooms,' says Laura.
Aerate your lawn: Mushrooms thrive in waterlogged lawns with poor drainage, so aerating your lawn on a regular basis will improve drainage and general airflow, reducing the chances of mushrooms growing.
Increase drainage in your lawn area to keep mushrooms at bay with this easy-to-use tool.
Remove organic matter: Mushrooms can grow on your grass or even in your potted plants if you have soil that’s rich in organic matter. So, you can stop mushrooms from growing in your garden by removing some of this.
You don’t need to stop making your own compost, but using a separate compost bin away from your lawn (i.e on patio slabs) could offer that distance your lawn needs. Plus, you need to remove excess organic matter from your lawn. 'This can easily be done on lawns with regular raking up of falling leaves and by cleaning up cuttings after mowing,' says Calum.
Try and improve sunlight: Those with a north-facing garden may find that they suffer from fungus more than those without, and that’s because mushrooms love the shade. To stop them from growing in the first place, aim to try and improve the amount of sunlight in your garden by cutting down any low-hanging branches and moving obstructions such as sheds or mini-greenhouses if you can.
Why have I suddenly got mushrooms in my garden?
The typical British summertime has brought an onslaught of downpours, and these wet and humid conditions are perfect for growing mushrooms. And while many people see mushrooms as a negative, the opposite is true.
Mushrooms only grow in healthy soil, so the fact that you have mushrooms growing in your garden is a sign that you have a very healthy garden. However, they shouldn’t stick around too long. As soon as the weather dries up or the temperature starts to drop, these mushrooms should disappear on their own. Of course, the alternative is that you remove them yourself.
Are mushrooms that grow in your garden poisonous?
Although it’s highly unlikely that the mushrooms that grow in your garden are poisonous, it’s best not to eat them or allow children or pets anywhere near them unless you are certain you can identify them yourself.
When it comes to mushrooms, it’s sometimes better to assume that all of them are poisonous just to be on the safe side. And while you can leave these mushrooms to their own devices and allow them to disappear on their own, those who are worried about these mushrooms can remove them.
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Lauren Bradbury is a freelance writer and major homes enthusiast. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Chichester in 2016, before dipping her toe into the world of content writing. After years of agency work, writing everything from real-life stories to holiday round-ups, she decided to take the plunge and become a full-time freelancer in the online magazine world. Since then, she has become a regular contributor for Real Homes and Ideal Home, and become even more obsessed with everything interior and garden related. As a result, she’s in the process of transforming her old Victorian terraced house into an eclectic and modern home that hits visitors with personality as soon as they walk through the door.
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