Fertilizers have a number of practical uses for thriving plant growth, luscious, green grass, and flourishing gardens. Some fertilizers even act as a pesticide, eliminating pesky garden invaders- but can fertilizers help get rid of unwanted mushrooms?
High-nitrogen fertilizers can help get rid of unwanted mushrooms. Applying regular fertilizer treatments to your lawn will help eliminate mushrooms, as the nitrogen encourages the carbon matter within your soil to decay. With nothing to feed off of, the mushrooms die and often do not return.
The rest of this article will explain what’s causing mushrooms to grow on your lawn, how fertilizer can work to eliminate the mushroom problem, and how you can continue using fertilizer to maintain a mushroom-free yard.
Why Are There Mushrooms on My Lawn?
You’re heading out the door on a dewy morning when you look over at the lawn, and there they are. Those pesky mushrooms have sprouted up again. Where do they come from, and why are they littered across your lawn?
Here are the most common attractions that cause mushrooms to grow in your yard:
- Moist soil or standing water
- Shady areas (especially under bushes and shrubs)
- Pet waste
- Rotting leaves, grass clippings
- Old tree trunks or rotting roots
Mushrooms love moist environments with copious amounts of organic matter, especially in the shade. Mushrooms can actually be a good sign that your lawn soil has healthy organic material within it. However, this also means you’ve created a prime environment for fungi growth.
Mushrooms are actually just the surface view of fungi that is growing underneath the soil, and if they aren’t causing any damage or disease to your grass, they can simply be knocked over and removed from the surface. However, if you have an overgrowth issue or the mushrooms are of a variation that causes harm to your grass, you will want to remove the source of the mushrooms before damage occurs.
Fungi grow most rapidly in moist, shaded areas – which is why you often find them in areas of standing water or in the shade of a shrub or bush. If you have pets that eliminate waste in your yard, that can also contribute to high levels of fungi-attracting organic matter.
How Does Fertilizer Get Rid of Mushrooms?
Fertilizers are made with three primary nutrients, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Nitrogen does an excellent job of speeding up the decomposition time frame of organic matter, eliminating fungi’s prime feeding source.
Without enough organic matter to feed on, fungi cannot continue to thrive. Enough nitrogen-rich fertilizer will help to eliminate your mushroom problem by removing the source of the mushrooms; fungi. Additionally, nitrogen-rich fertilizer is an excellent nutrient boost for grass, enhancing color vibrancy, root strength, and grass growth.
This process is not immediate, but it is effective. With patience and consistency, the nitrogen will work to reduce and eventually remove the fungi from the soil, preventing any mushrooms from growing.
How Fertilizer Can Help Maintain a Mushroom-Free Lawn
Once you get your mushroom problem under control, the question becomes, how can you maintain a mushroom-free lawn? The answer? Continued use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. As mentioned, the fungi removal process is not immediate and works over time as the soil changes due to the infusion of extra nitrogen.
Continuing to use fertilizer even after the mushrooms have gone is a great way to keep them at bay and prevent the return of any fungal nuisances. You should begin a consistent fertilizing routine for applying nitrogen to your soil.
Not only will applying the fertilizer on a regular basis maintain ideal conditions for preventing fungi and mushrooms, but it will also maintain healthy, green grass growth.
Depending on the size of your lawn, you may want to use a fertilizer spreader to evenly distribute the nutrients. If you aren’t sure whether you need a fertilizer spreader, or if you should just distribute by hand, check out my other article: Do You Need a Fertilizer Spreader? How to Decide
What Potential Dangers Do Mushrooms Present to My Lawn?
As stated above, mushrooms often indicate healthy soil with high organic matter levels. Many types of mushrooms pose no actual threat to the grass, aside from being unsightly and bothersome to the homeowner.
However, there are some cases where mushrooms can cause damage to your lawn and soil. These situations usually involve pathogenic fungal organisms, which are responsible for spreading plant diseases in gardens, lawns, and other outdoor areas. If this is the case, the mushrooms and fungus should be treated and removed immediately.
Some types of damage that pathogenic fungal organisms can cause are:
- Galls: Abnormal plant tissue growth
- Wilts: Grass cannot absorb water, even when it is readily available.
- Root Rot: Fungus attacks the roots of the grass, causing stunted growth, yellow patches, and even complete failure to thrive.
- Leaf Spots: Black or dark brown spots appear on individual blades of grass develop, spread out, and eventually kill the blade of grass.
If you have chosen to co-exist with mushrooms on your lawn, you’ll usually find this approach pretty harmless. However, if your mushrooms show evidence of damage to your grass, you may have a bigger fungal problem at hand.
If your grass is suffering from any of the above conditions, the best thing you can do is speed up the process of decomposition of organic matter in your soil, eliminating the fungus that is hard at work underneath the soil.
Since nitrogen fertilizer is not an immediate fix and works more slowly over time, you may want to try a different approach if your fungal problem is aggressive and needs close attention.
Alternative Approaches for Getting Rid of Mushrooms
If you need a fast-acting fungi-killer to resolve a potential plant disease problem being propagated by fungus, you’ll probably need something that provides quicker results than nitrogen-rich fertilizer alone.
Here are some alternative remedies for getting rid of mushrooms fast:
- Apply a Fungicide.
- Remove dead leaves or other organic material from the surface.
- Regularly pick up any animal waste.
- Trim back overreaching bushes and shrubs.
- Allow grass to fully dry between watering sessions.
- Aerate the lawn’s soil.
- Keep your grass cut short.
Apply a Fungicide
Fungicides work well for quickly treating serious issues like root rot or galls by preventing the spread of fungal spores. Fungicide does not, however, altogether remove the fungal problem because it cannot get deep enough into the soil to wipe out the entire fungal system.
If you elect to use a fungicide to eliminate any continued damage from plant disease-spreading fungi, it is best followed up with the distribution of nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Using these two tools together will stop the spread of the issue and eliminate the fungi over time, preventing the mushrooms from returning.
Remove Dead Leaves and Other Organic Material From Your Yard
Dead leaves, grass clippings, and other organic materials create an environment fungi love to grow in. These types of materials lock in moisture and encourage organic matter to increase in the soil, which attracts and feeds fungi. Removing these items regularly from your yard will help prevent the growth of fungi before it occurs.
Regularly Pick Up Animal Waste
If your pets eliminate waste in your yard, their droppings are likely contributing to organic matter-rich soil, attracting fungi and causing mushroom growth. Be sure to pick up after your pet regularly so waste isn’t sitting in the soil for too long.
Trim Back Over-Reaching Bushes and Shrubs
Fungus loves shady, moist areas – and these types of environments are heavily encouraged by the existence of large, overreaching bushes and shrubs. Water tends to accumulate near the root systems, and shade is provided due to the foliage of these plants.
To prevent mushrooms from accumulating under your bushes and shrubs, trim them back to shrink the surface area of shade they provide. The less space they cover, the less shade they can create.
Allow Grass to Fully Dry Between Watering Sessions
Since fungus thrives in moist conditions, allowing your grass to fully dry in between watering sessions is best. By watering thoroughly, but less frequently, the conditions are less likely to foster fungal growth. Maintaining a constantly wet lawn will definitely encourage the appearance of mushrooms.
Aerate Your Lawn’s Soil
Your soil will dry much quicker when there is healthy airflow. Proper airflow encourages healthy, quick water absorption. Not only will aerating help prevent fungal growth, but it will also improve the overall quality of your soil, encouraging even healthier grass growth.
Keep Your Grass Cut Short
Long grass creates pockets for storing extra water and moisture, encouraging fungal growth. When you keep your lawn cut short, the sun has a much easier time reaching the soil and drying it out, preventing fungi-rich conditions.
Fertilizer helps to get rid of mushrooms by speeding up the decomposition of organic matter, eliminating the feeding source that fungus thrives on. When you eliminate the food source, the fungi can no longer multiply.
Nitrogen-rich fertilizers work overtime to balance out the soil and reduce high quantities of organic matter, preventing the continual growth of mushrooms on your lawn. There are additional alternative ways to help prevent mushroom growth as well, but using a high-quality, nitrogen-rich fertilizer on a regular basis is the best route for maintaining a mushroom-free yard.