If you always notice mushrooms in your mulch, it’s nothing to fret about because most of them are not harmful to you and your pets, and most gardeners also have the same challenge.
A healthy, moist, and shaded garden will cause mushrooms to thrive, and there are very simple home remedies to take care of them, including lime, vinegar, and baking soda.
Simply gardening practices like keeping your garden nest can determine mushrooms from growing. So let’s get down to business.
What Is Mulch?
A mulch, in simple words, is a layer of organic materials like wood chippings, grass clippings, and hah that covers the surface of the soil or around the bases of trees, bushes and plants.
Mulching is a very important agricultural and gardening practice that helps ensure that the soil retains the much-needed moisture by preventing excessive evaporation, thereby keeping the soil cool.
Mulching also deters the growth of weeds and helps improve the structure, nutrient-holding capacity, and soil drainage, in addition to beautifying the environment.
Why Mushrooms Are Invading Your Mulch
The fact that mulch is made of organic material that can easily decay means that it is a perfect place for mushrooms to grow.
Most mulching materials creates an acidic substrate that fungi like mushroom love.
That is why you find them mushrooms in mulches. There are, however, some conditions that will cause these mushrooms to invade your mulch, and they include:
1. Too Much Decaying Organic Matter
Granted that all mulch materials are organic matter, however, when you have much of this mulch already decomposing, or even if other biodegradable are decomposing in the mulch, it attracts and sustains the growth of mushrooms. Hence older mulch is more likely to have more mushroom growth than fresh ones
2. Too Much moisture
Mushrooms, like most fungi, love a humid environment, which is why mushrooms are prevalent in heavily watered areas.
When a mulched area gets too much moisture, the mulch holds the water in itself, which is one of its functions ( water retention ability). Too much water in the mulch leads to the proliferation of mushrooms.
3. Too Much Shade
Mushrooms don’t like a lot of sun, so they thrive in well-shaded areas. If your garden has a lot of shade, probably from trees, you will notice that the mushrooms are more in areas under the tree where they are not exposed to the sun’s heat. If you get rid of the shade in your garden, you will surely get rid of most mushrooms in your mulch.
4. Your Garden Is Healthy
As ironic as this may sound, fungi in your mulch means that your garden is healthy and does not lack essential nutrients. Mushrooms do not grow in soils that are poor in nutrients. Hence the presence of mushrooms in your mulch means that you have rich soil underneath the soil.
7 Ways to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Your Mulch
There are a few things you can do to get rid of mushrooms in your mulch; they include:
1. Use Baking soda
The reason why mushrooms feel comfortable living in mulches is that the soil is acidic. Mushrooms thrive in acidic soils, so if you can increase the mulch’s pH, you will make the environment harsh for them, and they will die off.
That is where baking soda comes in; you can make your mulch alkaline by adding a mixture of 1 tablespoon of water to a gallon of water and then spray it on the mushroom-infested area.
Apart from increasing the pH of the mulch, baking soda also kills mushrooms; you will notice them dying after about a couple of days or so
2. Remove Mushroom Fruiting Bodies
You can manually remove mushrooms from your mulch if you notice them. Firstly, you have to wear a glove while doing this, and you must ensure that you remove the mushroom as soon as you see them and when they are still young before they start releasing spores that will be carried by wind to other parts of the mulch. Dispose of them far from the mulch or add them to your compost pile.
3. Fungicides To The Rescue
If you feel that manually removing the mushroom is not giving you the desired result, you should use fungicides.
The bitter truth is that most fungicides do not kill mushrooms; they are used to prevent the mushrooms from spreading and to take care of molds and mildew.
It is an excellent idea to use fungicides on your mulch before you notice any mushrooms because fungicides alone can hardly eliminate mushrooms once they are rooted in the mulch.
Flutolanil and azoxystrobin are some good commercial herbicides that an expert should apply to control a mushroom infestation.
4. Use Soap and water
Dish Soap and water mixture is a simple hack that will take care of the mushrooms in your mulch. Soap mixture works the same way as baking soda, and it can be applied on mushroom-infested mulch outdoors or any other fungicides in your indoor plants and flower beds.
All you have to do is mix 2 tablespoons of dish soap in 3 gallons of water, which you spray directly on the mushrooms in the much. They will take a day off in a question of 3 days.
5. Vinegar Works Too
The great thing about removing mushrooms in mulches is that they can be done with the simple everyday materials you have around you.
One of such home remedies for mushrooms is a vinegar solution. A mixture of 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water should be applied to the area where mushrooms infest the mulch.
Vinegar contains an etic acid that kills the mushroom’s spores and mycelia while damaging it and causing it to die outright.
6. Use Nitrogen-rich fertilizers
Even though fertilizers do not kill mushrooms per se, they help in preventing the mushroom from overrunning the mulch completely.
Using fast-release nitrogenous fertilizers promotes the growth of the plants and flowers in your garden and fights against most fungicides in the mulch, especially mushrooms.
These fertilizers also slow the decomposition time of organic matter in the mulch, which means that the mushrooms’ food source declines with Nitrogen-rich fertilizer, which will determine their growth.
7. Use Lime On The Mulch
Lime can be used on the mushroom in your mushroom; even though it will not kill the mushrooms outrightly, it will slow the mushrooms’ growth and raise the mulch’s pH, making it almost impossible for the mushroom to survive nor reproduce.
When applying like to your mulch, ensure that you wear a glove, goggles, and a mask to prevent injuries. Do not apply lime before heavy rain or watering because the line will run off, making your effort a waste.
How To Prevent Mushroom From Growing in Mulch
Prevention is often the most effective method of combating mushroom growing in mulch. It is easier to keep mushrooms from getting into your mulch than to get them out. Here are some things you can do to prevent mushrooms from growing in your mushrooms, including:
1. Keep your yard clean by picking up dead flowers, fallen fruits, animal droppings, leaves, and branches from the mulched area because these materials decompose and make the acidic mulch environment that mushrooms thrive on.
2. Rake your mulch regularly to keep it aerated and from being too moist, which is the kind of environment mushrooms love. Raking also exposes and breaks up any mycelia of mushrooms that might be growing underneath the surface.
3. Remove mushroom-infested mulch with a shovel or with a hand, and then use rake the spot up to break up the mycelia of the mushroom underneath.
4. If you feel that your mulch is too old and beginning to decompose, top it up with new mulch. However, the depth of the mulch should not be more than 3 inches thick.
5. To prevent your mulch from having a shade that encourages mushroom proliferation, trim your trees and shrubs so that your mulch will get more sunlight that deters mushroom infestation.
6. Ensure you don’t over-water your garden because mushrooms love wet and humid environments. It is best to use a watering can to water plants at the base instead of using a garden hose that can flood the entire mulched area.
Mushrooms are quite common in mulches, and this is because mulches are rich in nutrients. You can take care of these mushrooms using simple household materials like baking soda and vinegar.
However, your best bet is to prevent the growth of mushrooms in the first place by keeping the mulch clean and dry, amongst other things.
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Hope this article helped you learn the 7 ways to get rid of mushrooms in your mulch. You may also want to check out What To Do With Old Mulch.
I will love to hear from you if you have any other suggestions on How to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Mulch, all you have to do is comment below and reach out to people by sharing this post on social media.