Why Do Mushrooms Grow in Your Lawn and Garden?

Gardening expert Melinda Myers explains why mushrooms sprout on your lawn and trees and what to do about them.

How to Get Rid of Mushrooms Growing in Your Lawn

Bnbbyc16 Matt Hazelton 001Courtesy Michael Hazelton

“Toadstools are growing in the open soil and under plant leaves in my flower bed. The soil isn’t too damp, so I don’t know why these intruders are showing up. I pull out and dispose of the mushrooms in my lawn, but they reappear. How do I get rid of them?” asks Dorothy Clark of Culver, Oregon.

mushrooms in lawn treesPiyachatS/Shutterstock.com

Melinda Myers: Toadstools, or mushrooms, are the fruiting body of fungi. The underground portion of the fungus feeds on decaying wood, like old tree roots, a stump (above) or lumber accidentally buried during construction. Once the fungi have decomposed the wood, their food source is gone and the mushrooms in your lawn will disappear. Rake to break up or remove the toadstools if you’re worried about kids or pets eating them. Otherwise, wait for drier weather and watch them disappear until the next rainy spell.

Backyard Tip: Mushrooms and toadstools could potentially be poisonous and dangerous. Never eat anything in the wild or your backyard without checking with a professional.

Learn how to plant and grow a rain garden.

Mushrooms That Grow on Trees

mushrooms in lawnCourtesy Harmony Gayle

“Why do mushrooms pop up in random places, and are they harmful to other plants?” asks Harmony Gayle of Portsmouth, Virginia.

Melinda Myers: Most mushrooms are the above-ground fruiting body of fungi living in the soil. The fungi feed on and decompose old tree roots, stumps, leaves and other organic matter. Mushrooms often appear during wet and humid weather. They shrivel and disappear when drier conditions return, but the underground fungi remain as long as they have a source of food. Some species of Armillaria mushrooms are the fruiting body of a root rot fungal disease that attacks susceptible trees and shrubs. Clusters of honey-colored mushrooms may appear at the base of an infected plant.

Many gardeners use a rake to break up unwanted mushrooms that appear in lawns and gardens to reduce the risk for children and pets. Never eat a mushroom unless a qualified person has identified it as edible.

Eliminate the guesswork—we found the best mushroom growing kits and logs.

Mushroom Growing in Potted Plant

14 Nancytibbits Bbas21Courtesy Nancy Tibbits

“What’s sticking out of the bottom of my hanging plant (above)?” asks Nancy Tibbitts of Parrott, Virginia.

Melinda Myers: This could be a mushroom, as they come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that feed on organic matter. Your potting mix may contain bark, which is a potential food source for the fungi. It won’t hurt your plant, but you could see new mushrooms sporadically appear when the weather conditions are right.

Next, check out the 6 most common plant problems and how to solve them.

Melinda Myers
Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books. She hosts the nationally syndicated “Melinda’s Garden Moment” TV and radio segments and is the instructor for The Great Courses How to Grow Anything DVD and Instant Video series. Melinda is a dynamic presenter, appearing at many events throughout the country each year. She has received recognition and numerous awards, including the American Horticultural Society’s B.Y. Morrison Communication Award and was inducted into The Association for Garden Communicators Hall of Fame.