How Do I Know If I Have Mushrooms in My Yard?

If you’ve never seen a mushroom before, you may not realize you have them in your yard. What makes this even more difficult is the fact that they take many shapes, sizes, colors, formations and textures. So, it’s best to get a mushroom guidebook, look up mushroom identification websites online or contact your local mycological society.

What Do I Look for to Know There Are Mushrooms Growing in the Yard?

Mushrooms are the product of an underground structure, or mycelium, that becomes visible under the right conditions. There are six main characteristics to look for to identify whether there are mushrooms growing in your yard:

  1. Check to see if there are warts, a ring or a cup.
  2. Inspect the shape of the cup and make a note of what it looks like to you. Does it resemble or have the appearance like something else? For instance, Oyster Mushrooms look like oysters, hence the name. The cup shape is most common for mushrooms, but there are also others named after their appearance like bird’s nest, puffball or stinkhorns.
  3. Observe the gills under the cap and how they attach. These sit on the underside of the cap and they will have lines, teeth or other spine-like structures. Mushrooms produce spores from this area.
  4. Then look at the stem, its shape and its formation. Is it long and slim or fat and short? It is possible to not have a stem at all and still be a mushroom as well.
  5. If there is a stem, make a note of how it emerges from the soil or growing medium. Is the cap solidly connected or is it hanging loose.
  6. Also look to see if there’s a whole patch growing or just a few individuals strewn about.

Where Will Mushrooms Grow in a Yard?

The best way to understand if they’re mushrooms is the environment they’re sitting in. They often develop near the dead roots of trees, decaying organic matter, disturbed earth sites or where there’s lots of decomposing leaf litter.

This means construction sites are prime place for many different mushrooms to grow. They also love tress like elm, ash, aspen, cedar, apple and etc.  If you have a dead tree and you see spongy looking structures growing up near it, chances are, they’re mushrooms.

How Do I Know if the Mushrooms Growing in My Yard Are Poisonous?

There’s a quick taste test you can do to determine whether mushrooms are poisonous or not. Take the most miniscule amount of the mushroom you can and place it on your tongue. If you have a hot, burning sensation, it’s poisonous. When it tastes like an earthy fragrant substance, it’s edible. But in the case it just tastes unpleasant, you don’t want to eat it.

You can also determine the safety of a mushroom by its gills. If they’re brown or tan in color, they’re likely safe. But if the gills are white or if the cap is red, you can bet it’s poisonous.

Why Are Mushrooms Growing in My Yard?

If you’ve had a recent period of heavy rain, it will produce mushrooms. Overwatering your lawn will also cause mushrooms to grow. When there’s heavily compacted soil with enough thatch to layer over it, the drainage issue will provide the prime conditions for mushrooms to appear.

How Did Mushrooms Make It Onto My Yard?

At some point in the past, some spores found their way through the air from their parent mushrooms. The wind blew them in. These spores then found the most ideal spot and your yard was it.

There is obviously enough decaying and decomposing organic matter for the spores to take root and develop mycelia. Once the moisture and shade became sufficient, mushrooms fruited forth in all their glory.

Are the Mushrooms Growing in My Yard Edible? 

Don’t’ eat any mushrooms in your yard unless you are 100% certain they aren’t poisonous and 300% certain of their identity. When in doubt, leave the mushrooms alone.

Do Mushrooms Growing in My Yard Indicate Unhealthy Soil?

Although the mushrooms growing in your yard may be an unsightly nuisance, it’s a good sign you have a healthy and nutrient-rich soil environment. Actually, fungi are an important aspect of fertile soil. They help breakdown organic matter and leave behind all the good stuff that grass, plants, flowers and other growing things love.

This means it’s an essential part of the life cycle, especially if you have a garden or other farming-type operation. It’s best to leave them and let them take their course. However, you should identify the mushrooms because there are several species that can cause disease in the surrounding area.

How Can I Prevent Mushrooms from Growing in My Yard?

Always clean up organic matter like leaves, bark and twigs. If you have a frequent mushroom issue, try to expose the area to more heat and sunlight. This will make it uninhabitable for the mushrooms to take hold since they love moist, shady spots.

How Do I Rid My Yard of Mushrooms?

You can mow over the patch of mushrooms and this will temporarily take care of the problem. But, you will have to take stronger measures if you hope to rid your yard of them for good. You can use things like baking soda, horticulture vinegar or a fungal killer.

What Is the Average Lifespan of a Mushroom?

When mycelium develops under ideal soil conditions, mushrooms can appear in as little as two weeks. Depending on the conditions, they will stay for about one or two months and die back when the weather warms up or freezes over for the winter.

However, during the spring, summer and fall, they can appear over and over again. If you leave them to their own devices, they can grow in the same spot for several years before dying off. If you discover that you have buttons or morels growing in your yard, consider yourself lucky.