Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

How to Get Rid of Mushrooms Growing in Your Mulch

By: Zac Friedman

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In wet climates, it’s common to see mushrooms growing in your mulch. Generally, mushrooms are harmless to your plants but it is still a good idea to get rid of them. Mushrooms can be unsightly. They can be dangerous if a curious child or pet decides to eat them. Some types can be harmful to your garden. This guide explains how to get rid of mushrooms in mulch and prevent them from coming back. I’ll also explain how to deal with lawn mushrooms. 

There are several ways to get mushrooms out of your mulch. You can remove them by hand or rake them out. You can also apply baking soda and water mixture or a fungicide to kill them. If they’re really bad, you may have to remove and replace your mulch. To prevent mushrooms from coming back, you’ll need to find a way to reduce the moisture level of your mulch. Improving drainage can really help. Removing decaying organic material, such as leaves and roots, also helps. 

How to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Mulch

How to Kill Mushrooms In Your Mulch and Prevent Them From Coming Back

Mushrooms are pretty easy to remove. It’s a little more difficult to prevent them from coming back. The best way to control mushrooms is by managing the moisture in your garden. Mushrooms sprout up in warm and moist environments. In the following sections, I’ll explain how to kill mushrooms and reduce the likelihood of them coming back.

Mushrooms growing in mulch

1. Choose the Right Mulch

To reduce the moisture level in your garden, be sure to use well-draining mulch that has good air circulation. Wood chip mulch and bark mulch work well because the larger pieces allow air and water to freely pass through. Pine straw is also a good option. Inorganic mulches like rock or rubber can also work well.

When mulch starts to degrade, mushrooms are more likely to sprout. Mushrooms grow well in decaying wood.

2. Rake

Raking mulch

Raking will help prevent mushrooms from growing in your garden beds. Raking helps by loosening your mulch so air and water can more easily pass through. This allows the mulch to dry out faster. Mushrooms need a moist environment to grow. Your mulch will be less hospitable to mushrooms when you rake it. Of course, raking can also help remove the fruiting bodies.

It’s important to note that raking won’t remove the mycelium. The mushrooms can sprout again after you rake them up. 

3. Apply a Fungicide

There are a number of different mushroom treatment options. Some are natural and some involve chemicals. Probably the best is to apply a purpose-made fungicide. Simply follow the instructions on the label. You can also use home remedies like baking soda, dish soap, or vinegar.

It’s important to note that some types of fungicides are not safe to use around certain plants and vegetables. Be sure to do your research before you apply it. If you’re concerned about a fungicide harming your plants, consider trying other treatment options first. 

4. Trim Your Trees and Plants

If your flower beds are under a tree, large shrub, or dense plants, consider trimming them back. This will allow more sunlight to reach the mulch. It will also allow for better airflow. This will help the mulch dry out faster so mushrooms are less likely to grow. 

5. Apply a Nitrogen Rich Fertilizer

Fertilizer can help get rid of mushrooms in a few ways. The fertilizer will stimulate plant growth. The plants will consume the resources in the soil so the mushrooms have fewer resources to use. 

Fertilizer also speeds up the decomposition process by giving beneficial microorganisms more nutrients to feed on. This will increase their populations. They will decompose the organic matter in the soil faster. The mushrooms will have fewer resources to use. 

As an added bonus, the fertilizer will make your plant stronger. They will be less likely to be affected by the fungus when they are strong and healthy. 

You have to be careful about which fertilizer you use. Some fertilizers will actually help the mushrooms grow. The mushrooms can utilize the nutrients in the fertilizer, just like your plants. Ideally, you should choose a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. Also, look for a fertilizer that is high in iron. Mushrooms won’t benefit from these types of fertilizer.

6. Keep Your Yard Clean

Mushrooms growing in dead leaves
Mushrooms will grow in yard waste such as dead leaves

Regularly remove fallen leaves, animal waste, and other debris from your garden and put it in your yard waste bin or in your compost pile. If you leave debris in your garden, it will decay and become food for mushrooms. By removing it, you remove a major food source of the mushrooms. Your garden will look better as well. 

7. Apply Fresh Mulch

Mushrooms consume deteriorating vegetation. When your old mulch starts to degrade, mushrooms are more likely to pop up. Adding a fresh layer of mulch can help prevent mushrooms from growing by removing the mushroom’s food source. 

Before adding new mulch, it’s a good idea to turn the soil. The decaying mulch will add nutrients and organic matter into the soil, which will make it more fertile. Alternatively, you can remove the old mulch.

For more info, check out my guide: Should You Remove Old Mulch Before Applying New?

8. Improve the Drainage in Your Garden Beds

Poor drainage is one of the main causes of mushrooms. Make sure your garden beds are designed so moisture can escape. If your garden beds are regularly waterlogged, mushrooms are more likely to grow.

There are a few ways to improve drainage. If you live in an area that is susceptible to flooding, you can dig trenches in your garden to direct water. You could also build a rain garden. You could also consider building raised beds. Raised beds make it easier for water to drain so the mulch can dry out. 

9. Remove Affected Mulch

If mulch in one area of your garden tends to grow mushrooms, you can remove that mulch and replace it with new. Dig up any mulch and soil that contains mushrooms and dispose of it. Make sure you’re removing the mycelium as well as the mushrooms so they don’t grow back.

When you get rid of your old mulch, make sure you move it away from your garden. It contain mushroom spores that could contaminate other areas of your yard. 

10. Remove Old Tree Stumps and Roots

Mushrooms growing on a tree stump

Mushrooms love decaying wood. If you notice lots of mushrooms sprouting up in a particular area, they could be sprouting out of some dead tree roots underground. If you have old tree stumps on your property, they are likely to start sprouting mushrooms as they decay.

Remove these old stumps and roots to prevent mushrooms from growing. You can also remove decaying wood chips if they start sprouting mushrooms. 

11. Avoid Overwatering Your Garden

Moist conditions cause mushrooms to grow. To prevent mushrooms from growing, avoid overwatering. Let the mulch dry out completely between waterings. Most plants will grow fine as long as the soil a few inches down stays moist. The top layer can be dry.

If you notice lots of mushrooms popping up in one particular area, it’s a good idea to inspect for leaky pipes or hoses. They could be adding additional moisture and causing mushrooms to sprout. Fix them immediately to solve the problem. 

12. Leave The Mushrooms

You don’t have to do anything. You can just let the mushrooms grow. Most mushrooms are harmless to humans, pets, and plants, as long as you don’t eat them. 

In most places, mushrooms will only appear briefly during the spring and fall. They usually only pop up after it rains. They only stick around for a couple of weeks at most.

a lawn mushroom

Natural Treatments and Homemade Fungicides

You don’t have to use a chemical fungicide. There are some products around your house that you can use to get rid of mushrooms in your garden. A few options include:

Baking Soda

Baking soda can slow fungal growth. It is a natural fungicide. Baking soda works because mushrooms prefer neutral to slightly acidic environments. Baking soda is alkaline. It increases the pH of the soil to make it more basic. This kills mushrooms. 

For more in-depth info, check out this interesting study. It shows that fungal growth is decreased in alkaline conditions.

To treat your mulch, mix 2-4 tablespoons of baking soda with a gallon of water. Put this solution in a spray bottle and spray it around your mulch where mushrooms are growing. The mushrooms will die off.

Alternatively, you can pour the baking power directly on the mushrooms. This will also kill them. When you do this, be careful not to pour baking soda on your plants. It can damage them. 

Baking soda is a pretty gentle treatment. It will take some time and multiple treatments to kill the mushrooms. It probably won’t get rid of them but it will reduce the number of mushrooms that sprout. 

Using this treatment could make your soil more alkaline if you do it too frequently. This can be a problem if you grow plants that prefer more acidic soil or if you grow plants that are particularly sensitive to pH changes. Keep this in mind if you decide to use baking soda. 

Baking soda is the best way I have found to get rid of mushrooms. I like that it’s affordable, natural, and easy to apply. I have also found it to be surprisingly effective.

Lime

Lime is another good treatment for mushrooms. It works by increasing the pH of the soil, just like baking soda. This makes the soil more alkaline so mushrooms are less likely to grow. 

Lime can harm your plants if you use too much. You’ll want to be careful when applying it. Read the directions on the package and follow them. 

Lime won’t kill all of the mushrooms immediately. It will probably reduce the number of mushrooms that pop up. It may take several treatments.

Vinegar 

Vinegar is another natural fungicide that you can use to kill mushrooms. It works because it is very acidic. It contains acetic acid. This will increase the soil acidity and kill the mushrooms. It will also kill any plants and grass you spray it on. It’s strong.

To treat your mulch, dilute the vinegar. Make a solution with 4 parts water and 1 part vinegar. Spray this solution on the area where mushrooms are growing. The best type of vinegar to use is white vinegar. 

Dish Soap

There is some debate about whether or not dish soap actually works to kill mushrooms. Dish soap can be used as an insecticide. Some people have reported success using it as a fungicide as well.

The idea is that the sulfites in the soap help to neutralize the fungus. I’m not sure whether or not this works but it may be worth trying if dish soap is all you have.

To use dish soap, mix around 1-2 tablespoons in a gallon of water. Spray this solution on the mulch that has mushrooms. This won’t be an instant fix. It will probably take some time but it may help. 

Using a Chemical Fungicide to Get Rid of Mushrooms

If all of the natural and household treatments fail or if you have a serious mushroom problem, your best bet is to use a fungicide that is designed for treating mushrooms. You can buy fungicidal spray at all garden centers. 

Simply follow the instructions on the bottle. Sometimes you need to dilute the mixture with water before you spray it on. Other types of spray are already diluted. You can apply them directly from the bottle. 

It’s important to note that these sprays may harm certain plants. When you’re using the spray in your garden, be careful not to hit your plants with overspray. 

How to Deal With Lawn Mushrooms

Mushrooms in the lawn

You can treat lawn mushrooms the same way you treat mushrooms in your mulch. Baking soda, vinegar, or dish soap and water can work well. You can also use a fungicidal spray. 

It’s important to note that these treatments could kill your grass if you use too much. Make sure the solution isn’t too strong. If you buy a fungal spray, look for one that is designed to kill lawn mushrooms. It will kill the mushrooms without killing your grass. 

You can also simply pluck the mushrooms up as soon as you see them. If the mushroom problem isn’t too bad, this is the best solution. Raking them up also works.

To keep mushrooms out of your lawn, remove any decaying tree roots, leaves, and pet waste from your lawn. Rake your lawn to remove thatch. Be careful not to overwater. This can all help to prevent mushrooms from coming back. 

It’s also a good idea to mulch your grass clippings. This will introduce more leafy organic material into the soil. This will promote the growth of beneficial bacteria. Mushrooms tend to prefer decaying wood matter. When there are more bacteria in the soil, fewer mushrooms will sprout. 

You don’t have to treat mushrooms in your lawn. In most cases, they are harmless. They can actually be a sign of a healthy lawn. If you have kids or pets, it’s a good idea to get rid of them.

Types of Fungus You Might Find in Your Mulch

There are thousands of different types of mushrooms that could grow in your garden. A few of the more common ones include artillery fungus, slime molds, and fairy rings. It can be hard to identify exactly which type of mushroom is growing because there are so many. The above treatments should work for most types of fungus that you could find in your yard.

You should never eat the mushrooms that grow in your garden. Mushrooms can be difficult to identify because different types can look very similar. You wouldn’t want to accidentally eat a poisonous mushroom. One of the main reasons to remove mushrooms is so curious children and pets don’t try to eat them. 

My Experience

Usually, when mushrooms pop up in my lawn or in my vegetable garden, I just leave them. They go away in a few days or weeks. Where I live, it rains quite a bit in the spring and winter but it’s pretty dry for the rest of the year. I only have to deal with mushrooms for a month or so out of the year.

A couple of years ago, I started having a pretty serious mushroom problem in part of my yard. Mushrooms started popping up all over one section of my vegetable garden and in my grass. I’m not exactly sure what caused it. Maybe it was just a rainier year than usual.

I always prefer using natural solutions rather than pouring chemicals on my yard so I decided to try treating the mushrooms with baking soda. I mixed up a couple of gallons of baking soda and water and started spraying the mushrooms with it. After a day or so, they had died. I removed most of them and threw them out. I left some to decay naturally. 

In a couple of sections, the mushrooms kept coming back. I decided to buy a fungicide at the local hardware store. It also killed the mushrooms quickly. This time, I also decided to remove some of the old mulch and replace it with some new cedar chips. I also tried to improve the drainage on my beds. I haven’t had any problems with mushrooms since. 

There are plenty of ways to treat mushrooms in your mulch. You can remove them by hand or with a rake. You can also treat them with baking soda, vinegar, dish soap, or a purpose-made anti-fungus spray. 

Getting rid of mushrooms is pretty easy. They are fairly easy to kill by changing the pH level or simply pulling them out. Keeping them away is another issue. Mushrooms tend to keep coming back once they’re in your yard. 

Removing any decaying organic matter, replacing the mulch in the affected area, and improving drainage in your flower bed will help keep mushrooms away. Reducing the moisture level of your mulch will make it harder for mushrooms to grow. This is because mushrooms need damp conditions. 

You can also simply leave the mushrooms. They can actually be a sign of healthy soil. They mean that your soil contains a good amount of organic matter. In most cases, mushrooms will go away on their own. If the problem is bad, you will want to deal with it. 

How do you treat mushrooms in your garden? Share your experience in the comments below!

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