One of my biggest joys is receiving e-mails from my readers. This month I am going to share some questions I received, and the answers I gave.
Question: There are mushrooms growing all over the lawn in my backyard. How can I get rid of them?
Answer: Mushrooms grow in lawns because of organic matter such as wood (old trees, building materials) under the sod. The fungi help decompose organic matter in the soil and do not harm the grass, but your lawn may look dreadful at times.
The mushrooms may be poisonous, so it is important for you to remove them, especially if you have young children or pets who may eat them. You can rid your lawn of the fungi, but wind may carry new spores into your yard.
The mushrooms may cause you worry, but they don't damage your lawn or cause disease. Common mushrooms found in lawns include inky caps (which emerge in October), and stinkhorns. What you see are the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms.
Kicking mushrooms over is like picking apples from a tree and expecting the tree to die. The important parts, the mycelia, live underground and can extend over a wide area.
The only way to permanently remove lawn mushrooms is to rid the fungus of its food source. Sometimes, even after an old tree stump has been removed, fairy rings and lawn mushrooms come back.
In this case, the soil containing the fungi has to be removed, as well. When the food sources for the fungi have all been exhausted, and any soil infested with the spores has been removed, you should stop seeing mushrooms in your yard.
You may try letting the lawn get very dry, digging up the infested areas, and removing grass clippings and pet waste as these contribute to the organic matter which is feeding the mushrooms.
Q: When should I fertilize my trees and my shrubs?
A: Generally, early autumn is the best time, because it is the most efficient time for the uptake and storage of nutrients. By now there is no new growth above ground, but the roots are still growing. This is also the reason that you should keep trees and shrubs well watered. The roots will grow more deeply and will be better prepared for winter's freeze and thawing cycles which damage roots near the surface.
Fertilizing in the autumn also gives your trees and shrubs a head start when they begin to regrow in the spring.
Exceptions to this are for trees and shrubs that keep sending out new shoots all season long. This includes apples, elms, black locust and birches.
These trees should have the amount of fertilizer used split into two parts, one for early summer and one in fall.
Thank you for your e-mails! And don't forget to send me more.