Why Does My Garden Have Mushrooms?


If you see mushrooms growing your garden, you might be wondering why they are there, and how to get rid of them.

So, why does your garden have mushrooms?  Mushrooms often grow on dead or dying trees, branches, logs, or stumps to feed on organic material.  Mushrooms are more likely to grow in cool, moist, humid, dark areas of your garden.  They are also more likely to appear during extended periods of cloudy, rainy, cool weather, or if you over water your garden.

There are lots of different reasons that mushrooms may grow in your garden.  However, remember that most of them are harmless, and they will not hurt your plants.  Let’s take a closer look as why you have mushrooms in your garden, how to get rid of them, and how to prevent them from growing.

Why Does My Garden Have Mushrooms?

There are many reasons that your garden may have mushrooms.  However, it comes down to two basic things: food and climate.  Let’s get to know mushrooms a little better, and then we can understand why they grow in a particular area.

What Are Mushrooms?

According to Wikipedia, “a mushroom is the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground on soil or on its food source.”

mushrooms
A mushroom contains spores that allow a fungus to reproduce.

This tells us a few important things.  First, a mushroom is only one part of a fungus.  The fungus has a part that grows above ground (the mushroom), and a part that grow underground.

Second, a mushroom is the “fruit” of the fungus, meaning that it reproduces by spreading spores (as opposed to seeds) via the mushroom.  It turns out that the wind blows spores from mushrooms to other areas, where they start new fungus growth.

Third, a mushroom may grow on its food source.  Since we often see mushrooms growing on trees, especially fallen trees, logs, and stumps, we know that mushrooms like to eat dead wood.

In fact, mushrooms are a natural part of the decomposition of organic matter.  Mushrooms have no roots, and cannot produce energy through photosynthesis like plants can.

Instead, mushrooms feed on organic matter, and in turn, they release nutrients into the soil, which plants can use for growth.  Some mushrooms even have a symbiotic relationship with plants, helping them to absorb water and nutrition.

For more information, check out this article on mushrooms from Wikipedia.

Mushrooms generally eat wood or other organic material, and they like to grow in cool, moist, humid, and dark areas.

Your Garden Has Mushrooms Because Of Dead or Dying Wood

One of the most likely causes of mushrooms growing in your garden is dead or dying wood.  This could come in the form of:

  • Diseased or old trees
  • Fallen trees
  • Fallen branches
  • Logs
  • Stumps
  • Firewood pile near garden
  • Mulch

If you buy mulch from a landscape or garden center and spread it around, you could easily end up with mushrooms growing throughout your garden.

Mushrooms are more likely to grow on the sides or bottom of fallen trees, branches, logs, or stumps, where they will have more shade and moisture, along with cooler temperatures and plenty of food.

mushrooms
Mushrooms feast on tree stumps and other organic matter, and will return nutrients to the earth.

If you keep firewood in a shady area, mushrooms may grow on the wood over time.  Eventually, the wind may blow their spores into your garden, where new mushrooms will grow.  This is more likely if your firewood pile is near the garden.

Your Soil Has Plentiful Organic Material

Even if there is no wood in your garden, mushrooms will still grow if there is plenty of organic material in your soil.  Remember that mushrooms need to feed on organic material, and if they cannot find wood, they will settle for decaying plant matter from compost, manure, or other soil amendments.

compost bin
Compost that is not quite finished can be tempting food for mushrooms.

This doesn’t mean that you should stop adding compost, manure, or mulch (such as grass clippings or fallen leaves) to your garden.  Organic material is necessary for your plants to grow, and it also helps to replace nutrients in the soil – for more information, check out my article on how to make compost.

Remember that mushrooms are not harmful to your garden, and in fact they help to decompose organic material into a form that plants can use for nutrition.

Your Garden Conditions Are Ideal For Mushroom Growth

Aside from food, the climate is another deciding factor in whether mushrooms grow in your garden.  If your garden is cool, moist, humid, and dark, mushrooms are more likely to grow.

If there are lots of trees, shrubs, or tall plants near your garden, their shade may provide the perfect environment for mushrooms to grow.  A tree’s branches will provide shade and cooler temperatures for mushrooms, and fallen branches or leaves will also provide organic material for mushrooms to feed on.

If you have been getting lots of cloudy days and rainfall in your area, this will provide mushrooms with the shady, moist, and humid conditions that they prefer.  Also remember that over watering your garden can keep your soil too moist, which can also invite mushroom growth.

How to Get Rid of Mushrooms In Your Garden

If you already have mushrooms in your garden, keep in mind that they are a natural part of the decomposition process, especially if you have lots of wood in your garden.  However, if you want to get rid of them for aesthetic purposes, here are some ways you can do it.

Pick or Cut The Mushrooms

Some mushrooms are poisonous, so use gloves to handle them.  Use a knife to cut them off, and throw them away.  Don’t eat them or feed them to animals, since it is difficult to identify which mushrooms are safe to eat.

Also, don’t compost the mushrooms.  While you may be able to compost mushrooms, you may also end up with mushrooms taking over your compost pile.  After all, mushrooms contain the spores of the rest of the fungus that lives underground!

Rake or Dig Up The Mushrooms

This method is helpful if you have lots of mushrooms in your lawn.  You should be able to break the mushrooms up with a rake without pulling up your grass.

rake
Use a shovel to dig up mushrooms or rake them away, but don’t put them in your compost pile or they might take it over!

A rake might not work so well in your garden, especially if it is crowded with plants, or if there is lots of compost, mulch, and other material strewn about.  In that case, you can also use a shovel to target specific areas of mushroom growth.

Mow Over the Mushrooms

You can also mow over mushrooms in your lawn.  Although this method is low-effort, remember that the spores can still spread around.

How to Prevent Mushrooms From Growing

Once you’ve gotten rid of the mushrooms in your garden, you will want to take steps to prevent them from growing in the future.  Here are a few ways to do it.

Get Rid of Dead Wood in Your Garden

If you have any fallen trees, branches, stumps, or logs in your garden, get rid of them.  You can split them into firewood and sell it or store it somewhere far away from your garden.

fallen tree
Fallen trees are sure to host mushrooms eventually.

If you have any dead or dying trees in or near your garden, cut them down safely.  You can tell a tree is dead if it doesn’t form any leaves in the spring, or if mushrooms are growing on it.

Mulch can be helpful to retain moisture and prevent weeds in your garden.  However, mulch made from wood chips can promote the growth of mushrooms.  So, avoid using wood chip mulch on areas of your garden that are naturally shady or moist.

Prune Back or Cut Down Trees

Even living, healthy trees in your yard can promote the growth of mushrooms, since the shade provided by branches can keep your garden shady, cool, and moist.  To prevent this, prune back branches that hang over your garden.

You may also find that mushrooms are growing at the base of trees due to shade.  You can take the step of cutting down an entire tree, but it is an extreme measure.  Make sure to do so safely, and hire a professional if you are not sure about how to do it.

Keep Your Soil Drained

To prevent mushrooms from growing in your garden, try to let the soil dry between waterings.  Don’t water before or after a rainstorm.  When you do water your plants, water them deeply and infrequently, rather than providing shallow and frequent water.

You may also want to try using drip irrigation instead of a sprinkler or hose.  This allows you to control the precise amount of water your plants get.

You should consider the possibility that you are giving your plants and your garden too much water or watering too frequently. For more information, check out my article on over watering your plants.

Another step you can take is to improve drainage by digging trenches and installing pipes to divert water away from wet areas of your garden.

If you find that your soil stays wet for a long time, it might be a good idea to improve the drainage.  One good way to do this is to add compost to your soil.  The additional organic material will improve drainage and provide nutrients for your plants.

clay soil
Clay soil drain poorly and retains water, so you may need to add compost to supplement organic material and improve drainage.

For more information, check out my article on how to improve soil drainage.

Conclusion

At this point, you should have a good idea of what to do to prevent mushrooms from growing in your garden.  Now that you are armed with the knowledge, it’s time to put it into action in your garden!

Hopefully, this article was helpful and informative.  If you have any questions or advice of your own about mushrooms in your garden, please leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jonathon. I’m the gardening guy (not guru!) who is encouraging everyone to spend more time in the garden. I try to help solve common gardening problems so that you can get the best harvest every year!

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