Are Mushrooms Bad For Your Lawn?

Did you wake up one morning to find your beloved lawn covered in mushrooms? Are you wondering where they came from and if you should be worried? Good news: there’s no cause for alarm. Plant biologist and amateur mycologist Emily Estep will walk you through the basics and alleviate your concerns about mushrooms in your lawn.

A close-up of beautiful forest mushrooms, featuring a brown mushroom with textured cap, growing amidst lush green grasses in a serene forest setting.

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Seeing a lot of mushrooms in your lawn lately? Perhaps it’s been quite rainy or humid outside. People often see mushrooms popping out of the grass and wonder if it’s a sign of something wrong or if the mushrooms themselves are detrimental to the grass.

The concern is understandable; a lot of time and money goes into maintaining a lush lawn. We took a deep dive into the topic, using peer-reviewed research to answer the question. 

If you’re disturbed by mushrooms in your grass, let us put your mind at ease. They’re nothing to be worried about, and in fact, they are often beneficial.

The Short Answer

The short answer to this question is that mushrooms are not bad for your lawn. They’re not dangerous, and they’re not even necessarily an indicator of poor lawn health. In fact, fungi are a strong indicator of good soil health, and good soil leads to good grass.

Mushrooms can, however, be the canary in the coal mine for issues related to moisture. You may want to take the hint from frequent fungal growth that your lawn may need some aeration.

And though mushrooms don’t present a danger to you or your grass, if you still want to get rid of them, there are multiple methods.

The Long Answer

In this piece, we’ll explain why mushrooms are not bad for your lawn, covering where they come from, what major lawn problem they may signal, whether or not they’re poisonous, and how you can remove them if you’d like.

Where Do Mushrooms Come From?

A close-up of False Honey fungus mushrooms on a stump, showcasing their pale yellowish caps and intricate gills, nestled among verdant ground cover and foliage in a natural woodland habitat.
The presence of fungi indicates healthy organic material.

Mushrooms are merely the fruiting bodies of fungi, while the mycelium itself lives below ground. If you’re suddenly seeing these bodies, that means the fungi were there in your soil all along. 

Fungi feed on decaying organic matter that can be found in healthy, balanced soil. So, if there’s fungi occasionally sending up mushrooms in your lawn, it likely means your soil may be packed with good, organic material, which is a good thing for both the fungi and the grass.

Organic material and nutrients are food for fungi, and it’s also food for grass. The good news is that fungi, along with worms and other microscopic organisms, help break down organic material even further into available nutrients.

If you’ve got an in-ground garden near your newly-shroomy grass, this could translate to excellent news for your garden, too. Many growers spend years improving the natural soil ecology of their gardens, and mycelial networks are a crucial part of this healthy balance.

That’s right; mushrooms are likely to be good news for your lawn, working in tandem as part of your soil’s ecology. Mycorrhizal fungi can even help prevent pathogens from spreading and somewhat protect plants from root-based disease.

If you appreciate their hard work but still wish they weren’t peppered in your green grass, don’t worry. Many common species are short-lived and will disappear before long.

Too Much Lawn Moisture?

A close-up of mushrooms on a lawn, featuring small brown caps with delicate white speckles, nestled among vibrant green blades of grass.
Excess moisture can harm the grass’s root system.

When the conditions are just right, fungi send up their fruiting bodies, mushrooms, to assist in reproduction by spreading spores. A lot of fungi prefer moist, damp conditions, which is why you’ll see so many out and about after consistent rainfall.

If you’re seeing them in your lawn, you may see fungi in your garden as well, which can be indicative of a job well done if you’ve spent time building up your soil.

It’s normal to see mushrooms in your lawn every now and then. However, if you’re seeing them constantly, this may mean that your grass is getting a bit too much moisture. Perhaps the precipitation level is higher than usual, or your lawn does not drain well.

Excessive moisture can in fact damage your lawn, specifically the grass’s root system. A suffocating amount of water can keep oxygen and nutrients from getting to the roots, leading to reduced growth and disease susceptibility.

It’s important to note here that even in this instance of excessive moisture, the fungi are not the problem. They are just a potential signal of a problem. So in a way, they’re helping you out by letting you know that your soil might be too wet.

Besides frequent mushrooms, how can you tell if your lawn is holding way too much water? Mushy grass, more weed growth than usual, and literal puddles or water running off the grass are all tell-tale signs.

There are plenty of ways to reduce water retention in your lawn, depending on the severity of the problem. Aerating your soil, installing a drainage system or a French drain, planting a rain garden, and simply watering your grass less often are a few such methods.

Are Mushrooms Poisonous?

A close-up of white mushrooms on grass, showcasing smooth, dome-shaped caps, set against a backdrop of lush green grass blades.
Breathing fungal spores is normal and harmless.

Unless they are ingested, probably not. They get a bad rap. Even though most are completely harmless, and some are even prized for their edibility, there are some species that are indeed poisonous. If you aren’t well-versed in which is which, it’s fair to be worried.

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More importantly, as long as you aren’t putting them in your mouth, it doesn’t matter. A mushroom in the distance can’t hurt you, and its spores are nothing to worry about outdoors, either.

Those with allergies and other respiratory issues may have trouble with indoor spores, but outside, we’re all breathing spores every day. It’s just part of being outdoors. A few mushrooms in your lawn aren’t going to make a difference.

What species might you be seeing? The fungal kingdom is vast, with countless possibilities. A few common lawn species you may see include puffballs, inky caps, ringless honey mushrooms, stinkhorns, lawnmower’s mushrooms, and green-spored parasols.

You may also find fungi growing on your mulch or wood chips around the house, with bird’s nest fungi and slime molds showing up often, as well as, once again, stinkhorns. You’ll know them when you smell them.

Some of the species mentioned are poisonous, and some are not.

The truth is that you’re probably not going to become an expert mycologist in your area, ready to identify every species in your region. Regardless, as long as you leave these mushrooms alone, they can’t hurt you. Simply wait for them to decay, adding more organic material to your soil.

How to Prevent Mushrooms

A close-up of Meadow edible mushrooms with brown shiny caps, surrounded by lush green grass and leaves.
Eliminate stumps and tree roots to avoid fungal colonization.

As we’ve discussed, mushrooms aren’t bad for your lawn. But if you’re dead set on getting rid of them because you just don’t like the sight of ‘em, there are a few things you can do. For starters, don’t mow over them, which helps spread their spores.

On a larger scale, try to improve drainage; mycelium love to send up their fruiting bodies when the soil is moist. You can use spike aerators, push lawn aerators, and even bigger aerator machines to get the job done.

Additionally, do your best to prevent the decay of organic material in your lawn by removing dead grass clippings, dead leaves, and old mulch, all of which break down and become fungi food. Fungi feed on decaying plant matter, primarily.

Finally, many fungal species grow on dead stumps and the dead roots from trees that were removed. If you have any stumps around, get rid of them. If you’re getting rid of a tree, remove as much of the roots as you can.

Final Thoughts

Fungi may be the most misunderstood kingdom. If you wake up one morning to discover a bunch of mushrooms in your yard, that’s not a bad thing. Most likely, it’s just a sign of a healthy, happy lawn, with a variety of microorganisms and fungi living in the soil, and it may even be a helpful sign letting you know that your soil is a bit too wet.

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