Mushrooms growing in mulch are a common problem that many gardeners have to deal with. Apart from making our garden bed look unappealing, they may be a source of concern if you have dogs or small children, as eating these can make you sick.
The major reason these fungi appear is that there has been a lot of rain. You may be asking how to remove them from your bark mulch.
This article will discuss several steps you can take to rid your garden of these pesky invaders.
Why are mushrooms growing in my mulch?
Mushroom growth is most common near trees, plants, and in landscaping mulch and bark.
First of all, why are mushrooms growing in your garden mulch? There are numerous reasons for this, including an abundance of nutrients and decaying debris. Each reason is explained in depth below:
Too much biological material.
Mulch is an organic material in and of itself. However, when combined with roots, plants under the mulch, and even grass, a basic mulch bed can transform into the ideal growing environment for mushrooms.
When mushrooms develop, this material is frequently decaying. When the material begins to degrade, mushrooms develop to consume it all.
Mushrooms develop when they begin to consume the material. The organic material will eventually wear out, and the mushrooms will die.
A great deal of moisture
When the environment is humid, all species of fungi thrive. As a result, a lot of rain and overwatering in a mulch garden can also cause mushrooms to flourish.
Mulch, as an organic material that absorbs moisture extraordinarily well, is a great substrate for mushrooms.
Inadequate sun exposure
In addition to organic matter and moisture, mushrooms require little to no sunlight. Shaded spaces under trees and other garden structures are ideal for the growth of fungi.
Mushrooms do not thrive in poor-quality conditions. That is, without richness. That is why the presence of mushrooms is a good omen. Your mulch is rich in and of itself, but whatever is beneath it is likely to be as well.
This occurs more usually when the mulch is overly rich in garden soil.
What types of mushrooms can grow in mulch?
Here are some of the most common mushroom mulch growing varieties:
- Agrocybe Pleiades group – Common agrocybe
- Coprinopsis atramentaria – Alcohol Inky Cap or Tippler’s Bane
- Agrocybe praecox group – Spring agrocybe
- Lycoperdon pyriforme – Pear-shaped Puffball
- Psathyrella candolleana – Common psathyrella.
- Pluteus cervinus – Deer Mushroom
- Phallus impudicus – Stinkhorn
- Lysurus cruciatus – Lizard’s Claw
How to get rid of mushrooms in mulch
Mushroom removal may be a difficult and time-consuming operation, so knowing which method works best is essential.
Here are six of the most common:
- Baking powder
- Nitrogen-rich fertilizers
- Soap and water
Let’s take a closer look at each one to see how effectively it works.
1. Baking soda
Because many mushrooms flourish in acidic soils, the first step in fighting them is to raise the pH of your mulch. The easiest method is to mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one gallon of water and spray it over the affected regions.
Baking soda raises the alkalinity of the soil and acts as a natural fungicide, killing mushrooms in as little as three days.
Using fungicide as mulch may appear to be a great method to eliminate mushrooms. Fungicides, on the other hand, do not kill mushrooms.
The majority of fungicide brands available to homeowners are used to control mildew and mold or avoid a fungal outbreak. Fungicides can be used to keep mushrooms from growing in your mulch, but they won’t work to get rid of them once they’ve taken root.
Commercial formulations, like flutolanil and azoxystrobin, are more effective at controlling an infestation, but a specialist should only use them.
Vinegar is a basic home material that works great for destroying mushrooms. Its acetic acid content will kill spores and mycelia and harm the mushrooms themselves.
Combine 1 part white vinegar and 4 parts water to prepare a simple yet powerful anti-fungal spray, then apply it to the mushroom-infested mulch.
4. Soap and water
Dish soap is another common household item that can be used to kill fungus. Combining vinegar and baking soda is also safe to create a solution that can be used outdoors and indoors and sprayed if you have mushrooms in your flower beds.
Spray 2 tablespoons of dish soap per 3 gallons of water immediately on the mushrooms.
5. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers
Fertilizers are your ally on two fronts: they boost plant growth while combating fungus growth in the mulch. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers hasten the decomposition of organic materials, essentially decomposing the mushrooms’ food source and causing them to grow and degrade quicker.
They do not destroy mushrooms, but they are an excellent approach to preventing an infestation. Slow-release fertilizers should be avoided for optimal results because they will not have the same effect.
Lime is frequently advised, but does it destroy mushrooms? No, it does not. No, it does not. Lime, like baking soda, raises soil pH but slows mushroom growth rather than killing it.
It can also be hazardous to use: even when dealing with non-caustic lime, you should use goggles, gloves, and a mask to avoid injury.
How to control mushrooms in the garden
Maintain a neat yard
Remove branches, leaves, fallen fruit, dead flowers, or animal droppings that have fallen on your mulch. These could contain fungal spores, resulting in a mushroom invasion.
Leaving them on your mulch will also add to the acidity of the substrate, making it more hospitable to fungi. Maintaining a tidy yard is also beneficial in preventing mushrooms from sprouting on your lawn.
Rake the area
Mushrooms need moist settings, so begin by raking the area. Mix the mulch with a rake to loosen it and let it dry.
This will help to avoid the growth of new mushrooms in the area. Taking away whatever they can eat will lead them to wither and die.
Trim back trees
Garden beds directly under trees may not receive enough sunshine. If this is the case, pruning a tree or two may provide comfort.
Mushrooms thrive in shady environments. Shade prevents water from properly drying and promotes the growth of lawn mushrooms.
Remove mushrooms by hand.
As mushrooms appear in your soil and mulch, you may need to remove them manually. If you have a few places of mushrooms in your garden, removing them by hand is a smart option.
However, suppose you find dozens of mushrooms in the beds, and there is still organic matter available to feed on. In that case, these unsightly fungi will continue to grow, leading us to our next point — eliminating fungus-affected mulch so you don’t have to watch your gardens constantly.
Remove fungus-affected mulch
If you haven’t replaced your mulch in a while, it may be affected by degrading plants. This is an ideal setting for the growth of these toadstools. You can remove any affected mulch with a spade or garden fork and replace it with new mulch.
Then, use a rake to mix it all together properly. You can either dispose of the fungus-affected mulch or, if it has been affected by a mushroom or two, add it to your compost and use it later once it has decomposed.
Replace the old mulch with the new mulch.
It can take up to 7 years for a layer of mulch to disintegrate completely. Depending on how long you’ve had the mulch, you might need to replace it.
Ideally, the mulch layer should be about 2-3 inches deep. This should also be enough to keep weeds at bay without suffocating your plants.
If you want to go the extra mile and keep mushrooms from developing in your fresh mulch, now is the time to spray fungicides.
If you don’t want to remove and treat the mulch, you could add some lime to the soil. This will not eliminate mushrooms, but it will impede their growth and increase the soil’s acidity.
This might sometimes be an excellent alternative for your plants and flowers if they aren’t growing where they are. Plants that thrive in acidic soil, such as hydrangeas, will benefit from this mushroom prevention strategy.
Moisture is another important factor in mushroom growth. Mulch has good water retention properties, and you should be careful not to overwater it if you use bark, pine mulch, or even wood chips.
Instead of soaking the mulch with a sprinkler or garden hose, use a watering can and pour the water at the base of the plant.
The type of soil beneath the mulch is also essential. Hard, clay-heavy soils do not enable water to percolate quickly enough, and it might accumulate beneath the mulch. Overwatering can create root rot, which will destroy your plants as well as fungal growth.
Make use of a special fungicide.
When it comes to getting rid of mushrooms, certain fungicides can perform miracles. It shouldn’t be difficult to get fungicide to help with your mushroom problem, and it shouldn’t be difficult to use either. Simply follow the directions on the label of any fungicide you buy.
Some people are concerned about what the chemicals will do to their plants, so this is not ideal. If you have plants that you do not want to harm, you could choose a different route.
Learning to live with mushrooms
Sometimes, no matter what you do, these obstinate mushrooms appear. If this is the case, you leave them. To add charm to your yard, you might even create a “fairy” garden with gnomes and porcelain mushrooms or toadstools.
Keep in mind that mushrooms can help your garden by converting organic materials into nutrients. This will aid in the healthy growth of your plants.
Mushroom composting: a step-by-step guide
If you have flower or vegetable garden beds, turning those pesky mushrooms into mushroom compost can provide nutrients to your plants, allowing them to produce tastier food and more vibrant flowers.
Making mushroom compost at home is similar to making normal compost. In this section, we’ll show you how to make mushroom compost to feed your gardens step by step!
1. Mix compostable material together
Mushrooms can’t form enriching compost on their own. Therefore you’ll need to mix them with other materials to make homemade compost. Mix the mushrooms with materials like…
- Grass clippings
- Wood shavings
- Kitchen trash
Avoid things like meats, greases, and processed meals when incorporating kitchen waste into your mushroom compost. For your homemade compost recipe, stick to fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to manure, you should avoid using dung from pets such as dogs or cats. Instead, use horse, cow, or llama dung.
2. Saturate your compost pile
Once you’ve gathered all of your compostable materials in a container, you’ll need to soak it with the garden hose just enough to make it feel like a wet sponge.
Water the compost pile frequently, but not excessively, or you risk rotting it rather than turning it into compost. The compost pile should be warm and humid, not wet and soaked.
If you’re new to composting, use a thermometer to track the progress of your compost pile. As it “cooks,” the center of the pile should be about 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Turn your compost pile every week
Once your compost pile has attained an interior temperature of 130 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, toss it with a shovel or pitchfork once a week.
This allows air to circulate throughout the pile, helping in the composting process and preventing waste from becoming squashed and producing an odor or starting to rot.
4. When your mushroom compost is ready
It is ready to use when your mushroom compost is no longer warm, dry, and crumbly. It will also have a general brown color, similar to the compost you would buy at a store.
When fertilizing your garden, merely apply a thin layer of an inch or so in thickness. This ensures that your plants receive additional nutrients without being wasteful.
Are mushrooms that grow in mulch toxic?
Most of the mushrooms that grow in mulch are toxic and should never be eaten. In your garden, there are dozens of fungal species that can develop.
The most common mulch mushroom species are amanitas, inkcaps, slime mold, puffballs, and even wood blewits and morels. True, some of them are not toxic, and some are even tasty.
However, edible species usually have lethal replicas, and even experienced mushroom pickers can confuse one species for a toxic one.
We strongly advise you not to take any chances – it’s simply not worth it. Remove the mushrooms from your mulch and dispose of them carefully, preferably in the garbage.
Alternatively, if you wish to compost them, ensure your pets and children do not have access to the compost bins.
This concludes our guide on killing and removing mushrooms that grow in mulch.
We addressed nearly every common question about mushrooms and mulch that most people had. But there’s a chance we missed something.
Here are a few more of these questions and their answers:
How long does it take to remove mushrooms from mulch?
It is dependent on the remedy you use and the subsequent steps you take. In most cases, they can be removed in 7 days or less.
However, keep in mind that the longer it takes to remove the mushrooms, the more likely they will return.
For best results, try removing in a week or two, and keep tinkering with the mulch to avoid future mushroom development.
Will mushrooms infect other plants?
No. There are no mushroom species that could transmit diseases to other plants in your garden. They are beneficial because they decompose organic debris that your plants cannot eat.
This results in improved soil composition, which many plants can benefit from.
Can I eat mushrooms that have grown in mulch?
While pets may not have to be concerned about eating mushrooms, humans must. Some of the mushrooms’ components can be toxic, so it’s best not to eat them unless you’re quite certain they’re okay to eat. Keep them out of your mouth.
Do mushrooms imply that I’m overwatering the garden?
Most mushroom species thrive in damp environments, so there’s a chance. However, because mushrooms grow for various other factors, such as nutrient availability, adequate shade, and organic materials, it’s difficult to say.
However, as a general rule, always inspect the mulch before watering it. It is best not to water the mulch if it feels moist, even if it is only slightly moist. Mushrooms and other fungi thrive in humid environments.
If you see new unattractive lawn mushrooms in your mulch, remember to keep track of how much water you use and follow these guidelines. When necessary, remove, replace, or rake the mulch. Prepare to accept a mushroom or two as an addition to your garden.