How to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Your Yard

Close-up of Mushrooms Growing in Grass

If mushrooms have invaded your yard, and you’re looking to reclaim your grass, garden, or flowerbeds, the first step is understanding their growth. Mushrooms thrive in damp, shaded areas, springing up from fungi and feasting on organic matter. To bid these intruders farewell and get rid of mushrooms in your yard, start by addressing conditions that favor their growth, such as reducing thatch, improving drainage, or trimming back overgrown trees.

You can then implement strategies to prevent their growth and restore your yard to its mushroom-free glory.

Why do mushrooms grow in yards? 

Let’s take a second and talk about the why and how of mushroom growth before we jump into how to get rid of them. Understanding the basics behind their development will help you be better equipped to tackle them. 

Mushrooms grow entirely different from grass, ornamentals, trees, and shrubs. Those plants grow from a germinated seed and typically need warm temperatures and sunlight to thrive. However, mushrooms don’t grow from seed — they grow from a fungus or numerous fungi that usually live in the soil, grass, or debris, like fallen leaves or decaying plant material. 

These fungi thrive in damp, dark conditions — wet and shaded places. When conditions are suitable, the fungi send up mushrooms to reproduce and pass along their genetic material. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of a fungus, similar to apples or pears on a tree. 

As the mushrooms grow, they feed on organic materials to get the nutrients they need to grow. They are heterotrophic organisms, meaning they get all their nutrients and energy from other plants or organic materials. 

When mature and near the end of their life, they drop fungal spores that get carried around your yard (and likely the neighbors) by the wind. When they find a resting place, they’ll lay dormant until the conditions are conducive, and the cycle repeats.

The big takeaway? Mushrooms like damp, dark places and organic matter. 

Best ways to get rid of mushrooms in your yard

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Before we get into the best eradication methods, it’s important to note that in most cases, mushrooms don’t signify a severe problem with your yard, nor are they typically harmful to the grass — or you, your kids, or your dog. Per the 2024 edition of the Encyclopedia of Food Safety, only about two percent of fungi are truly poisonous.

Mushrooms pop up when your soil is fertile and has good organic matter, which is what you want for your lawn and garden. So you don’t necessarily want to get rid of those conditions. 

Often, too, mushrooms will disappear on their own when the soil dries out, or they eat their way through the organic matter they’re feasting on.

However, I get it. It’s completely understandable if you don’t like their appearance and want them gone. There are a few ways to clear them out of the yard, although be forewarned that it may be a temporary fix. 

According to Aaron Steill, a specialist at Iowa State University’s Consumer Horticulture Extension, “Eventually, the mushrooms will stop emerging with the arrival of different environmental conditions (usually warmer and drier). However, they may continue to appear periodically over the next several years during favorable environmental conditions. The mushrooms will disappear permanently when the organic matter they are decomposing has been exhausted.”

Reduce thatch layer

Reduce the thatch in your lawn by scarifying it with a vertical mower or dethatching the grass with a power rake. Thatch is a buildup of living and dead grass on the soil surface that limits air circulation through the grass and inhibits water movement down into the soil.

Aerate compacted soil

Picture of grass aerator on the green lawn
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Aerate your lawn to break up soil compaction. When the ground is compacted, water sits on top of the soil instead of percolating into it, creating a waterlogged environment at the base of the grass. Soggy conditions like this are prime for fungal growth and, in turn, mushrooms. 

Let the sunshine in

Trim back bushes and tree limbs to reduce shady spots on the lawn, allowing more sunlight to reach the grass. Most fungi like dark environments and thrive in the shade, so more sunlight may stop them from growing.

Clean up organic matter

Get rid of any above-ground organic matter that could trigger mushroom growth. Rake up leaves, pick up tree trunks and twigs, discard fallen plant material from the garden, and remove animal waste as quickly as possible.

Mechanical control

Use your lawn mower to chop them up, rake them out of the grass, or pick them with your hands. If you use your hands, it’s best to wear gloves and put them in a plastic bag before disposing of them so you don’t shake spores.

You can also dig the mushroom clumps out of the soil using a shovel or a garden trowel.

Speed up their lifecycle

Apply a quick-release, inorganic nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn or garden soil. While this may seem counterintuitive since mushrooms thrive on high-nutrient soils, nitrogen speeds up their growth. They’ll move through their lifespan quicker and disappear ahead of when they would naturally. Adding nitrogen also will speed up the breakdown of any organic matter, reducing their food source.

Spray with a vinegar solution

close-up of a liquid being sprayed from a spray bottle outside with grass in the background
athriftymrs.com | Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Spray garden soil with a mix of four parts water to one part vinegar and saturate the mushrooms and the surrounding soil. This mixture will desiccate the mushrooms, killing them. Be careful not to get the vinegar solution on your garden plants or grass. Vinegar is often used as a DIY herbicide, but it is non-selective and will damage (and potentially kill) any plant material it touches. 

Use baking soda

Dissolve two tablespoons of baking soda in a gallon of warm water, pouring the mixture over the mushrooms and the surrounding garden soil. Baking soda raises the soil pH and halts mushroom growth. Repeat as necessary, but like vinegar, don’t get this on your grass or garden plants.

Commercial fungicides

Apply commercially available fungicides, following the label instructions carefully to avoid overapplication. To control fairy ring fungi, use a product containing flutolanil (Prostar), pyraclostrobin (Insignia), or azoxystrobin (Heritage, Headway, or Scott’s Disease Ex).

What conditions are prime for mushroom growth?

Cool, damp environments

Fungi are highly influenced by moisture and temperatures. Most need high humidity and cool conditions to thrive, so you’ll typically see mushrooms growing during cool, rainy weather or in the shade of trees and shrubs. 

According to the American Mushroom Institute, the ideal conditions for mushroom growth are above 90% humidity and about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

While mushrooms like high relative humidity, they also love the soggy conditions of soil compaction or heavy soils that don’t drain well. When there is poor draining, the high soil water retention spurs fungal activity. 

Decaying organic matter

As mentioned above, mushrooms are heterotrophs, meaning they get all their energy and nutrients from other plants or organic materials. Hence, you see them growing in decaying plant material or woody materials.

The fungi produce ligninases, enzymes that help decompose lignin found in woody materials. This explains mushroom growth on fallen trees in the forest and other areas with hard-to-decompose organic matter. 

When excess thatch — the layer of living and dead shoots, roots, and stems accumulating on the soil surface — builds up, you’ll see mushroom growth. The fungus feeds on decaying organic matter in the thatch and thrives in the humid conditions created by poor air circulation through the thatch layer.

How to prevent mushroom growth

mushroom grown among grass
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I firmly believe in preventing problems before they start instead of solving them after they arise. This applies to mushroom growth in your lawn. But stopping them can be tricky. Mushrooms thrive in conditions you want for your grass — organic-rich, fertile soil — and increase when the weather is rainy and cool. It’s hard to control Mother Nature.  

However, you can take some steps to minimize their growth:

  • Repair cracked or broken sprinkler nozzles, fix leaky hoses, and avoid overwatering to avoid soggy, waterlogged soil. To water your lawn correctly, give it more moisture less often. The goal of watering is to provide moisture deeply but infrequently.
  • Where mushrooms are problematic, use inorganic mulches, such as rocks, gravel, or rubber pieces. Organic mulches, especially bark mulch and wood chips, are a natural food source for mushrooms and encourage growth. 
  • Mow your lawn regularly at the recommended height to keep good airflow and sunlight through the grass. Need help determining how high to cut your Kentucky bluegrass or St. Augustine? Our article discusses ideal grass heights.
  • When mowing, instead of mulching the grass clippings back onto the lawn, collect or rake them afterward to prevent thatch buildup. 
  • Prevent thatch buildup on the soil surface by using slow-release nitrogen fertilizers and avoid overwatering.

Are mushrooms harmful to your yard?

Fairy ring in residential turf
Scot Nelson | Flickr | Public Domain

Most mushrooms are not harmful to your yard but signify healthy soil. Seeing them means your soil is fertile and has good organic matter content, which is excellent for your lawn and garden.

Like so many other things, there are exceptions, though. Fairy ring mushrooms belonging to the class Basidiomycetes may harm your grass and should be dealt with quickly. 

This type of mushroom grows in circles on your lawn, hence the name. It is problematic as it forms a thick fungal mat of mycelia, root-like structures that create a mass of branching filaments. The mycelia are thought to be hydrophobic; this thick mat prevents water from seeping into the ground, which causes detrimental drought stress for the grass and may kill the roots. 

Fairy ring mushrooms also make grasses more susceptible to common lawn diseases, exacerbating problems. As the mushrooms break down organic materials and release abundant nitrogen, the prolific growth results in succulent blades and increased infection of brown patch and Pythium.

Vaughn Reints, SDSU Extension Horticulture Assistant says, “Mushrooms that are growing on living plants, especially trees, can be indicators of tree health issues, and those should not be removed without investigating underlying problems.”

Are mushrooms beneficial in your yard?

Now that we’ve talked about if and when mushrooms are harmful to your yard, let’s talk about the benefits they provide.  

  • Mushrooms (typically) grow due to beneficial fungi living within the soil or on its surface. They feed on organic matter, breaking it down and releasing nutrients that boost soil fertility. This fertile soil is great for growing grass, flowers, or other plants. 
  • We see mushrooms above ground, but we don’t see the intricate, pervasive filament system the fungi create underground. This underground network of mycelia and hyphae helps retain soil moisture, prevent drought stress, and improve plant growth. 
  • The soil fungi responsible for mushrooms often form symbiotic relationships with plant roots. This mycorrhizal relationship helps the plants absorb nutrients and water more efficiently. 

Harmless common yard mushrooms

Inky caps mushroom after rain
Ed Dunens | Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Most of the mushrooms we see growing in our yards and gardens are harmless, and don’t post any risk.

  • Puffballs (Lycoperdon spp.): round and white, with no visible gills and spongy flesh
  • Inky caps (Coprinus spp.): vary in color but are distinguished by the black inky goo that drips from the edge of the cap
  • Lawn mower’s (Panaeolina foenisecii): one of the most common lawn mushrooms, greyish or brownish at first, darkening as they mature
  • Milky conecap (Conocybe apala): milky white when young, turning a pale beige with a thin, smooth cap that often splits at the edges
  • Birds nest (Nidulariaceae spp.): looks like a brown, grey, or white “nest” with small brown or white “eggs” inside
  • Stinkhorns (Phallus spp.): distinct phallic shape and putrid odor
  • Meadow mushroom (Agaricus spp.): starts white with light pink gills that darken to blackish brown
  • Yellow fieldcap (Bolbitius titubans): start out bright yellow, quickly fading in color as the caps flatten out
  • Ivory funnel (Clitocybe dealbata): ivory-colored, powdery caps and delicate funnel shape
  • Flowery blewit (Clitocybe irina): pale beige turning to pinkish brown, grows low to ground
  • Fairy ring (Marasmius oreades): tan to reddish brown with off-white gills, grows in a ring

Toxic mushrooms species

While they don’t appear as often as the harmless varieties, keep an eye out for these toxic species:

  • Death cap (Amanita phalloides): usually larger with white gills that do not attach to the stalk, may have a yellow or green tint on the cap
  • Death angel (Amanita verna): pearly white stem with swollen base and white spores
  • Fool’s conecap (Conocybe filaris): small with a smooth brown conical cap, very thin stalk, rusty brown gills

Why do mushrooms look so different?

Since mushrooms are the product of the different fungi in soil or your lawn, you’ll see them spring up in many colors, shapes, and sizes. Sometimes, these differences are solely related to the fungal species; sometimes, the differences are due to growing conditions like temperature, sunlight, and humidity. 

First, the color mainly depends on the fungal species from which they originate. But some mushrooms — especially poisonous ones — are brightly colored as an adaptation strategy to warn predators like deer, squirrels, birds, and insects to stay away.

A mushroom’s shape is designed to facilitate spore dispersal. Take, for instance, the iconic mushroom, which has a cap atop an elongated stem. In these, the spores form in the gills under the cap. Since the cap sits up away from the ground, when the spores are released, it’s easier for the air to catch and distribute them. Puffball mushrooms form spores with their enclosed rounded structure. When mature, the structures forcibly rupture and “puff” spores into the air.

FAQs about getting rid of mushrooms in your yard

Are mushrooms growing in my yard poisonous?

Fortunately, most mushrooms that grow on lawns aren’t poisonous or dangerous, but it’s essential to identify them if you have kids or pets, just to be on the safe side. Especially as both kids and dogs are notorious for “tasting” everything. Even if they aren’t considered poisonous, they can still cause digestive problems if consumed.

Look carefully at the mushroom’s height, diameter, stem, and cap color and notice any distinct markings. Then, try to identify them by comparing what you have to online photos to check toxicity.

Are mushrooms in my yard bad for dogs?

Most mushrooms that grow in yards are harmless; only a tiny percentage are toxic if ingested. According to the North American Mycological Association (NAMA), 99% of all mushrooms have little or no toxicity to dogs and cats. However, even nonpoisonous types can cause digestive problems if eaten, especially in large quantities.

Since it’s sometimes challenging to determine by sight alone if a mushroom is poisonous or non-toxic, the safest bet is to assume that anything growing on the lawn or in your flower beds could potentially harm your pup. Try to keep them away from the mushrooms, or use the tips above to get rid of them.

Does mowing over mushrooms make them spread?

Mowing over mushrooms quickly removes any visible fruiting bodies, making your yard look nicer. However, if the pieces are chopped up and left on the lawn, more spores will be distributed in that spot. When the conditions are right, the fungal spores will come out of dormancy and start the growing process all over. 

If you mow down mushrooms, bag the clippings and immediately dispose of them in the trash.

Does lime get rid of mushrooms?

At one time, homeowners were told to apply lime to their lawns to eliminate mushrooms. This recommendation was based on the theory that the lime changes the soil pH, making it too acidic and unsuitable for mushroom growth. However, this garden myth was debunked.

Frustrated with mushrooms?

When mushrooms pop up in your yard, they aren’t typically a problem. They generally indicate your soil is fertile and contains beneficial nutrients and organic matter. Since they rarely harm the grass or other plants, there isn’t a need to get rid of them. 

However, if mushrooms in your yard are getting under your skin, contact Lawn Love. We’ll connect you with a highly-rated local lawn professional who can perform lawn aeration and leaf removal to keep your grass mushroom-free and looking fantastic.

Main Image Credit: Pexels

Amanda Shiffler

Most comfortable with soil under her fingernails, Amanda has an enthusiasm for gardening, agriculture, and all things plant-related. With a master's degree in agriculture and more than a decade of experience gardening and tending to her lawn, she combines her plant knowledge and knack for writing to share what she knows and loves.