By: Julie Day

Mushroom growing on rotting organic matter.

I always have mushrooms popping up all over my backyard. I dig them up, put them in garbage bags, and throw them out; but they keep coming back. Is there any way to stop them? -Jacob

Mushrooms are the fruiting structures of large fungi which live underground and feed off decaying organic matter in the soil. Picking the aboveground mushrooms is sort of like picking apples; it may prevent the spread of seeds, but it won’t get rid of the tree itself.

Here are some tips for dealing with mushrooms in your yard or garden.

Mushrooms growing on a rotting log.

About Mushrooms

In the lawn, mushrooms actually aren’t harmful – they assist with the breakdown of organic matter, which makes the soil richer. And even though they’re fungi, they’re different from fungal lawn diseases that can damage the grass in your yard. Also, according to Irish legend, fairies and sprites like to sit on mushrooms and smoke their pipes, and they’re considered a sign of good luck!

However, mushrooms can be unsightly, and many of them are highly poisonous, so you may not see them as good omens, especially if you have children or pets. To control mushrooms, you need to understand why they’re there.

Mushrooms thrive in environments that are:

    Aboveground fungus growth

  • Rich in Organic Matter: Buried wood, tree stumps, old mulch, pet waste, thatch, and other rotting matter provide the perfect food for mushroom fungi. More food means more mushrooms; less food means less mushrooms.
  • Damp Conditions: Mushrooms thrive in moist environments, which is why they often pop up after heavy rains and in damp or poorly draining areas.
  • Shady or Protected Areas: Mushrooms also tend to sprout in shady areas with poor air circulation; or in protected areas with heavy mulch, leaves, or compost.

The underground body of the mushroom fungus can stick around for years, only popping up when the time is right, such as after a lot of rain or during sudden weather changes. The aboveground part of the mushroom fungus usually only lasts a few days.

Mushroom growing on ground in organic matter.

How To Reduce Mushrooms

There’s no definitive way to rid your yard of mushrooms – the underground fungal structures can be so large that you’d never be able to dig them all up. Instead, you need to manage your lawn and garden practices to remove the fungus food sources and make the environment less attractive to mushrooms.

Try these tips to reduce mushrooms in your yard:

  • Improve Drainage: Aerate and top-dress your lawn with organic matter to improve soil drainage and discourage fungi.
  • Improve Light and Air: Thin trees and shrubs to let in more sunlight and increase air circulation in damp, shady areas.
  • Remove Tree Stumps and Wood: Grind out tree stumps, and remove any fallen rotting branches or lumber to reduce the food supply for mushroom fungi.
  • Mushroom growing

  • Don’t Overwater: Excessive irrigation can encourage mushrooms to sprout, especially in newly sodded lawns. Limit irrigation to 1? of water per week. New lawns will need more water to become established, but mushrooms should subside once you’re able to cut back on the watering.
  • Remove Thatch: Excess decaying thatch can provide a food source for mushrooms. Remove thatch that’s more than ½” thick.
  • Clean Up After Pets: Pet waste also provides food for mushrooms, so keep any poop scooped.
  • Reduce Organic Waste: Organic matter and compost are excellent for the lawn and garden; but if you’re having trouble with mushrooms, you may want to do a little cleanup, such as replacing rotting mulch and removing decaying lawn debris.
  • Forget Fungicides: Mushroom fungi are too large and too hidden to be affected by commercial fungicides.
  • Remove Mushrooms: Picking mushrooms won’t get rid of the underlying problem, but carefully disposing of them can prevent the release of spores that cause mushrooms to spread. If you’ve recently had a lot of rain, don’t worry about a few mushrooms sprouting here and there as they’ll probably go away after your yard dries out.


Further Information


How to Deal with Mushrooms in Your Yard


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