Mushrooms in Lawns

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With the extremely wet weather we have been experiencing in Chicago mushrooms are popping up in lawns all over the neighborhood. Mushrooms, oftentimes called toadstools, are the reproductive parts of some kinds of fungi. Mushrooms found in lawns seem to illicit a strange reaction. I've observed people plucking them from lawns wearing gloves or keeping a distance by using a broom handle and catapulting them out onto sidewalks. They illicit fear when children or pets can come into contact with them and gross many people out. I guess when you realize that a mushroom is just a Ding Dong or Hoohah of some kind of fungi living in the dirt, they can seem kind of gross.
When I was a kid mushrooms were blamed for causing warts on the fingers of kids who didn't listen to their mother and touched one growing in a lawn. I just tried to Google to see if there was any legitimacy to this old wive's tale or to see how widespread it was and after wading through countless results about STDs I've given up. I'm not too worried though, since I don't make it a habit of touching Ding Dongs and Hoohahs growing out of the lawn anyway. 
Where was I? Oh, yeah.
Since mushrooms are really just the reproductive parts of fungi removing them does not kill the underground mycelia that they grow from. Most spores are dispersed by wind over long distances into new sites where they germinate if conditions are favorable. So, you can pluck or fling every mushroom off your lawn but that doesn't mean they won't come back at some point.
If you live in the swanky new developments around Chicago and find that you've got mushrooms in your perfect lawn it could be growing from construction lumber, dead tree roots, or other organic mater that was just sodded over. You'll need to dig up whatever is decomposing below to have a good chance of getting rid of the mushrooms. Although, the fungi that generally produces mushrooms in lawns are really beneficial because they are decomposing the organic matter in the soil. 
In older gardens and lawns, mushrooms can be a sign of over-watering (or too much rain) and poor drainage. You can buy shoes that look like Medieval cleats that are you walk on your lawn with or amend your soil with a soil conditioner like Turface or applying fertilizer high in nitrogen.
Note: Some mushrooms can be poisonous so don't eat any you come across growing wild, mushrooms on your pizza can be assumed to be safe to eat. 

Filed under: Lawn

Tags: Gardening Tips

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  • Hey Chicago Now Family,
    I'm glad to be here. Can anyone help me, I just found out about the 'Biggest Loser' coming to Chicago, so needless to say I missed the casting call. So can any of my new-found family members get me in, or at least point me in the direction of signing up to be on the show when it arrives here?

    Thank you
    Tina

  • Oh snap,
    Was I suppose to be talking about mushrooms?????

    Okay, okay,
    My mother lives on the far south side (104th) and yes she does have mushrooms in her front lawn, but by us being from the south, Memphis & Nebraska, these little unattractive things are cute to us. Oxymoron I know, but they are so not attractive until they are cute, like some men LOL. Anyway, just tell your kids not to eat them, you can touch them, but not in an intimate, rubbing all on you kind of way.

    So there, this is my 2cents for mushrooms.

    Tina

  • In reply to Tina:

    OMG, LOL.

  • In reply to Tina:

    Great minds and all that... I'm planning to show photos of all my mushrooms in my next blog post as well!

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    Garden faerie,

    Let me know when you post them. Seems all of us Midwest bloggers are connected lately. Saw Gina and another local post about garlic scapes within days of each other.

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    Last week while working in a client's garden I found some sort of stinkhorn mushroom in the hardwood mulch under a shrub. I can really relate to Diane's comment about the 'suggestive' look of them.

    I googled stinkhorn fungus and found a bunch of photos similar to the one I found, but none exactly the same. Wish I'd had my camera with me. That thing was bizarre. In my google search I also came across pictures of mushrooms that looked like human cadaver hands - very creepy-looking.

  • I'll have to keep an eye on your blog and see if you post any pics of mushrooms. I'd like to see some of the "false parasol," in particular before they open to see if I've spotted any.

    The shoes work ok, not great but every little bit helps.

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