What It Really Means When Mushrooms Sprout In Your Yard

It's a long-told fable that a sign of fairies visiting your yard is the ring of mushrooms they've left behind, and that dancing in the circle would lead to punishment by the fairies. Other stories say these rings are left behind by witches, or even dragons. Mushrooms can also grow in clusters, or even pop up individually on your lawn, even if there are no surrounding trees or greenery. Sadly, this doesn't mean your home was visited by magical woodland creatures in the night.

There are a few different types of mushrooms that can grow on your lawn, and even a few different causes for their appearance. Some mushrooms indicate an issue in the design of your lawn, and can pose health threats for animals and children, but others are completely harmless. In fact, mushroom sprouts can sometimes be a good thing for the overall health and integrity of your lawn.

How mushrooms spread around your yard

If mushrooms are consistently appearing in the same spot in your yard, the odds are fungi are living beneath the ground. This is often seen around trees and/or shrubs where mushrooms can grow on the bark.

One of the ways fungi can spread is through something called "mycorrhizal networks," which connect through the presence of mycelium (root-like fungal threads), per NC State Extension's Homegrown. Via these networks, mushrooms start at one tree, spread underground, connect via the mycelium to another tree, and in the interim can pop up in your yard.

If you're noticing more sporadic mushroom pop-ups, though, keep in mind that mushrooms can also spread through spores. Especially in rainy, windy conditions, which can both spread the spores around, and provide cool and moist conditions. If there's enough shade and/or organic matter in your yard, there's a high likelihood that mushroom patches will sprout overnight, and be gone by the afternoon.

How to remove mushrooms

Now that you know how mushrooms appear on your lawn, you should determine if it's a problem or not — and if it is, how to deal with them. If they're spreading through spores and growing from organic matter in your yard, that means your lawn is fertile and healthy. In fact, the mushrooms can even boost the quality of your soil as they die off.

However, if mushrooms are sprouting on trees or plants, or because of excess moisture, it could indicate the plant is dying or your yard is too wet. One long-term solution for the latter issue is to regularly aerate your lawn to avoid compact, wet soil. If this doesn't fix the issue, look into lawn fungicides. Most of the time, individual mushrooms will go away from the heat and dryness of the sun, but if you have children or pets you're worried about in the interim, you can rake them up, or just get rid of mushrooms by removing them by hand.