Mushrooms and Your Lawn

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With the amount of rain and humidity around, it’s hardly surprising to see mushrooms popping up in backyards and parks. Lawn mushrooms love damp, shaded areas that are rich in organic matter such as old mulch, leaves, grass clippings and animal waste as this is what they feed on.

Mushrooms can actually be beneficial to your lawn. Their extensive root system helps the soil to retain water and they help to break down organic matter, adding nutrients to the lawn. In many cases the mushrooms will go when conditions dry out.

If however, you want to remove them from your lawn quickly, you can apply a fungicide. A fungicide will eliminate them, but they will keep returning unless you also address the underlying reason for the mushrooms being in your lawn. Mushrooms in lawns are also commonly associated with over-irrigation or poor drainage. Use a lawn mower catcher or rake up grass clippings after mowing, de-thatch your lawn to reduce the amount of decaying organic matter, and reduce shade by pruning or trimming surrounding plants and trees. Limit watering of the lawn, particularly if rain is forecast.

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Lawn mushrooms should never be eaten. Most are not poisonous but some are. Contrary to popular belief there is no way for a home test to distinguish between edible and toxic varieties of wild mushrooms. A mushroom expert or mycologist identification is the only way to accurately determine the status of the mushroom, so don’t run the risk. Children and babies must never be allowed to eat any type of fungi found in backyards or parks.

NOTE:  If you believe your child may have eaten a mushroom from the backyard don’t wait for symptoms to appear, contact the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126 for information and advice. If you child collapses, stops breathing, has a fit or seizure after eating a lawn mushroom immediately call 000 and request an ambulance. Where possible take a sample of the mushroom with you, to aid in the identification of the species.