Mulch is a great way to create an appealing ground cover for your garden. The only problem is it is organic. This means it will decompose over time.
Mushrooms are the reproduction parts of fungi. The fungi that produce mushrooms break down organic matter as part of the decomposition process. They are a sign that your garden is healthy.
But, this doesn't mean you don't want them growing in your garden. In this article, we share a what kind of mushrooms might be growing in your mulch and how to get rid of them naturally.
What kinds of mushrooms grow in mulch?
If you have mulch in your backyard or garden, you can almost always guarantee that mushrooms will grow in it at some point. That is because organic mulch that’s made of wood chips, pine needles, and shredded bark offer the perfect environment for fungal growth, especially during the decomposition process.
Mushrooms can range from the small to big ones. There are thousands of mushroom varieties that grow in mulch, but some of the most common include bracket mushroom or polypore, the jelly fungus, and the puffball mushroom.
You may also find horse mushrooms with white caps and hints of yellow, meadow mushrooms with dark brown gills, and death angel mushrooms that are pure white and very toxic.
You can also find these other fungi plants growing in mulch:
Also called “dog vomit” fungus because of its vomit-like texture, slime mold grows in damp areas like rotting logs or mulch. You can easily recognize it by its bright yellow, orange, or pink color and frothy texture that will make you want to look the other way.
True to its name, stinkhorn is easily recognizable because of its pungent odor that usually attracts flies. It also looks like an octopus with a bright red-orange color.
Bird’s nest fungus
As the name suggests, this fungus look exactly like bird’s nest with eggs in the middle. It grows commonly on cool and moist mulch and doesn’t cause any harm to plants.
This fungus looks like a tiny cup with a black egg in the middle and it grows well in cool, damp mulch where its “eggs” eventually burst and get swept in long distances.
Is mushroom growth bad for your mulch?
The growth of mushroom and other fungi in your mulch doesn’t really bring any harm to it. In fact, fungi and bacteria play important roles in the decomposition process. Fungi are responsible for breaking down dead organic matter like woody tissues so they can provide nutrients for plants. The growth of mushrooms and other fungi is actually a sign that the natural decomposition process is happening and that mulch can be used in fertilizing the plants in your garden.
Mushrooms also don’t cause any harm to your plants. In fact, they can help nurture them at some point. The only thing that you should worry about is that some of these mushroom varieties are poisonous.
So you have to handle them carefully or get rid of them altogether before they pose a threat to your pets or family members, especially children who may accidentally touch them out of curiosity. You should also never eat any type of wild mushroom growing in your backyard even if you think that it’s not poisonous.
How can you kill mushrooms with vinegar?
Vinegar is an all-around cleaning and disinfecting agent. But did you know that it could also help you get rid of those mushrooms in your mulch?
If you want a more natural, cheaper and safer way to kill mushrooms, vinegar can definitely get the job done for you. This is because vinegar contains acetic acid, which is excellent at killing almost every type of wild mushroom.
To make your own natural homemade fungicide, you need to mix 4 parts water with 1 part white vinegar and put it in a spray bottle. Use this solution to spray on those pesky mushrooms, but be careful not to spray it on your plants and grass because it could kill them too.
It’s also essential to wear garden gloves when spraying to avoid any irritation to your skin from the vinegar or if you accidentally touch those mushrooms.
Can you kill mushrooms with herbicides/fungicides?
When you see hordes of mushrooms growing in your mulch, your first thought would commonly be to kill them with some herbicide or fungicide. But unlike other pests in your garden or backyard, fungicide actually won’t do the job of getting rid of those pesky mushrooms.
Although they will appear to go away when you spray them with fungicide, it won’t be long until you see a new bunch growing rapidly in your mulch. This is because fungicides don’t penetrate your soil deep enough to reach the root of the problem.
On the surface, the mushrooms may die, but the growth continues on the hyphae. Then it’s only a matter of weeks before new mushrooms start sprouting again.
Contrary to popular belief, fungicides don’t kill fungi. They just prevent any existing fungus from spreading its spores.
In fact, some fungicides or herbicides that are marketed to kill mushrooms are now banned. So, if you want to get rid of those pesky mushrooms in your mulch, it’s best to consider more traditional and holistic approaches.
What are other solutions to get rid of mushrooms in mulch?
Aside from the vinegar solution, you can also try these different solutions for getting rid of that mushroom growth in your mulch:
Manually remove the mushrooms
If there are only a handful of mushrooms growing in your mulch, you can easily pick them by hand as long as you use gloves. Make sure to dispose of these mushrooms properly by throwing them into the trash or placing them in a compost pile.
Use nitrogen-rich fertilizer
This fertilizer will help speed up the decomposition of the carbon-rich organic matter in your mulch, which will also prevent further mushroom growth.
Break up the colonies
You can do this by raking your mulch every two to three days during the summer and every day during the rainy season. Raking aerates your mulch to prevent the growth of mushrooms and any other type of fungi. You can also cover decayed mushroom with fresh mulch so they can decompose fast.
Leave the mushrooms
If there are only a few mushrooms growing in your mulch, you can just let them be and they will eventually go away on their own.
Wrapping it up
As you can see, mushrooms are not a bad thing. They are good for your garden, even when they are growing in your garden.
If you don't want them, though, they are not that hard to remove from your mulch. Follow some of the easy, safe, and natural solution we have presented. In no time, you will be rid of mushrooms in your mulch.