It’s not unusual to find mushrooms and toadstools in your lawn during mild wet weather. It needn’t be a worry though. In this blog we ask “are lawn mushrooms poisonous?”

Lawn mushrooms are not generally poisonous to humans but as a precaution, it’s wise not to try eating them unless you are 100% sure that you can identify them accurately. Please bear in mind that pets and humans have different digestive systems. A mushroom that is edible for people could be dangerous to pets and vice-versa. This article looks at the reason lawn mushrooms appear and how to get rid of them.

clump of lawn mushrooms

How do mushrooms pop up in your lawn?

Mushrooms and toadstools are the fruiting bodies of fungal species. In other words, they are the way these organisms (fungi are neither plants nor animals) reproduce. If you compare them (loosely) to grass or trees – the main structure is permanently there, but when conditions are right it will either set seed or grow fruit.

Fungi live in your soil all of the time. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and help keep plants healthy. At the right time of year and when the weather conditions are perfect, they pop up these little fruiting bodies so that they can spread spores and reproduce.

Newly laid turf is especially good at popping up toadstools. That’s because the soil has been disturbed and “woken up” fungal spores that have been dormant.

Are lawn mushrooms poisonous?

deadly poisonous death cap mushroom
This toadstool is definitely not one for your Sunday breakfast! This is the death cap mushroom and is deadly poisonous. Fortunately, you are not likely to find one in your lawn – it prefers to grow in woodland.

There are over 15,000 species of fungus in the UK. They living in water, in the air, in woodland and yes, even in houses (think of the black stuff that grows on the walls in a damp room). Not all of them produce mushrooms or toadstools in lawns. And not all of them are poisonous.

The 7 most deadly fungi in the UK are described in this article on The Woodland Trust website. (I’ll repost the link at the bottom of the page for you)

Of the 400 or so fungal species that have been identified on UK lawns, none are poisonous. However – that doesn’t mean that the ones growing on your lawn fall within those 400 species. Do not eat them unless you are 100% sure you have identified them correctly.

Identifying lawn mushrooms

Turfonline are turf growers and as much as we love other species, we’re not experts at identification.

If you’d like to put a name to the fruiting bodies in your lawn though, the Woodland Trust has a very informative website. Be warned though – there are so many fascinating species that you could spend a very long time on this website.

Woodland Trust Fungi Identification Guide

This identification guide from Gardener’s world may also help 

How to get rid of lawn mushrooms

The important thing is not to panic. Mushrooms and toadstools generally have a very short lifespan and will normally disappear on their own. If however, they are bothering you, we’ve found that if you mow the lawn (grass box on!) the fungi will normally crumble and disappear.

You may see more than one flush of the fungi – that’s normal. Just look at it as a sign that the soil beneath your lawn has a strong, healthy eco-system.

Fairy rings in the lawn

fairy ring in lawn

Fairy rings in your lawn are a different matter to the occasional random patch of toadstools. Fairy rings appear as a dark coloured circle or ring of grass with fungi growing around its perimeter. Sometimes the middle of the dark green ring becomes completely bald – like a hoop. Very often, fairy rings appear where a tree once stood.

The fungus that causes fairy rings is in the soil all of the time and may not be actively producing mushrooms but it is doing something rather interesting. As the fungus grows and becomes more prolific beneath the surface, it seems to coat the soil particles in a resin-like material. It won’t make the ground feel sticky or anything but what it does do is make the soil water repellent.  The soil cannot hold onto water and so no plants can survive in it.

Removing fairy rings.

There are no chemical solutions so you have 2 options.

  1. Remove all of the soil in and around the fairy ring and hope that all of the fungi is destroyed in the process. This is expensive and risky – there is no way of knowing whether you have removed all of the mycelium and any dormant spores
  2. Get busy with the lawn care and try to reverse the hydrophobia. So some nice deep aeration – as deep as you can go – followed by scarification to remove any thatch that could be harbouring spores. Next use a watering can with a rose to apply a mix of washing up liquid and water. This will help to break down the resins.
  3. Overseed the area.
  4. Repeat every 2-3 months until the seed is growing strongly, then reduce the frequency to twice a year.

Good luck!

Further Reading

More about fungi and mushrooms from the woodland trust

Toadstools in newly laid turf