With all of the excess moisture we’ve had in Calgary recently, your lawn may have a sudden mycological infestation. Do you find yourself wondering “What do I do about the mushrooms in my lawn?” If so, you have a situation that makes the typical weed problem look easy by comparison.
With over three generations of experience serving the landscaping needs of both commercial and residential clients in the Calgary area, we have battled mushrooms countless times. Let us share with you some of what we have learned.
Unlike your run of the mill weed, mushrooms are potentially lethal, especially to small children. Not to be alarmist, but if you have toddlers who might consume the unidentified mushrooms growing in your lawn, you should tackle the problem promptly. The consumption of inedible mushrooms can result in anything from an upset stomach and nausea, on up to neurological damage, and even death from toxicity.
There is no magical solution to a mushroom problem. You have to manually pull them or mechanically destroy them with a mower. Whichever way you decide to go, you’ll soon see that your mushroom battle is difficult because of the morphology of these fungi.
The spores of mushrooms are analogous to the seeds of a plant, but they are far more insidious. Unlike most seeds, fungal spores are more like pollen, a very fine, dusty material representing potential mushrooms in their hundreds. Whenever you pluck or destroy a mature toadstool, it’s akin to bombing your yard with mythological dragon’s teeth. Each spore that finds the right moisture conditions will send up intertwining tendrils that will find its mates and develop into a new crop of fibrous mushrooms. Spores that don’t develop will simply lay dormant, awaiting the cues that will trigger their growth.
Therefore, once you have mushrooms you potentially have a multi-seasonal gardening battle on your hands. With millions of spores already in your soil, all may seem lost, especially since there isn’t really any effective spraying strategy against these intruders. Think of battling mushrooms as a war of attrition. The spores are innumerable, but certainly you’re smarter than the mushrooms.
What To Do
First, timing is everything when combatting mushrooms. If the fungi is growing a cap of some sort, that structure exists for only one purpose—reproduction. You have to pluck or destroy the visible mushrooms before they mature. Once matured, it is next to impossible to pick or destroy them without breaching the cap and dusting the soil with spores. Examine the existing mushrooms. If the caps are still firm to the touch, pull them up or destroy them with a bagged mower. The goal is to capture the mushroom either intact or destroyed under controlled conditions to limit the spread of shredded parts and spore clouds. If you want to one day minimize mushroom outbreaks, DO NOT kick ripe ones or clobber them with a line trimmer as you will only manage to spread the problem.
To truly limit the impact of mushrooms on your lawn you have to open a second line of attack upon them. It’s not enough to physically limit their reproduction as they appear because the spores are already in your soil like so many microscopic grains of sand. You have to take measures that make the mushrooms less competitive in your local terrain, especially if your mushrooms are the infamous fairy rings, which outcompete grasses for available water and will cause “kill spots” in your lawn.
Short of digging out your topsoil and sterilizing it, you have to take measures that make the soil less favourable to the mushrooms. The first tactic is to understand that mushrooms thrive upon the decayed organic material in your lawn. The single most important thing you can do to make mushrooms struggle to compete is to remove decaying organic material from your lawn.
The sources of such material varies. If you have trees near to your lawn, dead leaves and needles, fallen pine cones and twigs, and seed pods can all provide mushrooms valuable nutrients. Fallen flower petals and other blossoming parts that fall to the earth are another source of nourishment. Finally, the thatch that develops in the grass of your lawn itself can sustain mushrooms.
This second battle is the one we will happily fight on your behalf. The easiest way you can turn the tide on your mushrooms is to let us handle it. We offer our customers comprehensive spring and fall clean-up services that include power raking of your lawn and the removal of all lawn litter and seasonal debris from your lawns and gardens.
There’s nothing you can do about the recent moisture. You can call us to make mushrooms less of a perennial headache. As always, we offer free quotes for our services.