Using mulch is a really good idea when you’re trying to protect your plants. It can help you out as a gardener in so many different ways.
It helps to keep weeds under control so that they don’t choke your plants and stunt their growth. The mulch will also help substantially with moisture retention.
Sometimes moisture retention will wind up creating spots in the mulch where mushrooms will start growing. This can be problematic from an aesthetic perspective, but you might also want to get rid of them because the mushrooms could potentially be poisonous.
You don’t want your children or your pets eating the mushrooms and getting sick or worse. If you’ve started noticing mushrooms in your mulch, then you might be wondering how you can get rid of them.
Keep reading to learn what to do. This will show you what needs to be done so that you can get your mulch and garden area back to normal.
Why Mushrooms Grow in Mulch
You might want to try to understand why mushrooms are growing in your mulch in the first place. If you don’t know a lot about mushrooms, then you likely don’t understand how they grow yet.
Essentially, mushrooms grow from tiny spores that you aren’t even able to see with your eyes unless you have the right equipment. Mushroom spores don’t grow in soil the way that plants do, but they instead grow in substances such as wood chips or straw.
This means that the decaying organic material that is used in mulch will be the perfect breeding ground for them. The mulch will often be a little bit moist due to you watering the plants, and it will create an environment where mushrooms can thrive.
Most of the common mulch materials will be perfect for mushrooms. Whether you’re using peat moss, hay, wood chips, pine straw, or even bark chips, it’s going to be possible for them to grow.
Killing the Mushrooms
Killing the mushrooms actually isn’t that tough when you know what you’re doing. You’re just going to want to go about things in the right way so that you can kill the them without harming your plants.
Read on to learn about the various methods for killing mushrooms. Some of these ideas might be more practical than others depending on the situation with your garden.
1 – Use Baking Soda
Using baking soda is one of the best ideas when you’re trying to kill mushrooms safely. There are many different types of mushrooms out there, but many of the common ones that you find growing in mulch thrive in acidic soils.
You can use baking soda to throw the pH balance off and kill the mushrooms. Simply mix one tablespoon of baking soda into a gallon of water to get things started.
You can spray this baking soda and water mixture over the portions of your garden that have mushrooms. Try to be as thorough as you can so that you can get rid of all of them.
The alkaline levels of the soil will increase when you spray the baking soda water. It also creates a natural type of fungicide that can completely eradicate the mushrooms in your mulch within approximately three days.
If you’re looking for an affordable way to take care of the mushroom issue, then this is it. Baking soda is very inexpensive and there’s a good chance that you have some in your pantry already.
2 – Fungicides
Of course, fungicides will be one of the most common solutions to mushroom problems. You could go out to a store and buy a fungicide spray that you can use in your garden area.
However, this option isn’t actually going to kill the mushrooms. No, this is a better option when you’re trying to prevent them from growing in the first place.
The fungicides that you will find on the market are generally used to kill mold and mildew. They aren’t meant to directly kill mushrooms when you spray them.
This doesn’t mean that fungicides won’t be worthwhile, though. You can spray your garden and treat your mulch using fungicide so that you can keep mushrooms from being able to grow in the mulch.
This is very useful to know when you’re trying to keep your garden area safe. You might want to use the baking soda and water idea above to actually kill existing mushrooms.
3 – Household Vinegar Works
If you need another option to kill mushrooms in your garden, then you should look to see if you have any household vinegar. You likely keep vinegar in stock as either a cleaning tool or an ingredient.
You can use standard white vinegar to make a spray that is capable of killing mushrooms. Simply put one part white vinegar and four parts water into a spray bottle.
After mixing things up, you’ll be ready to start spraying the mulch down. The acetic acid in the vinegar is going to be able to kill the mushrooms quickly and you’ll be happy with the results.
This is another great option for anyone who wants to solve this problem without having to spend too much cash. You can easily mix up a vinegar spray that can kill mushrooms and you’ll be able to do this whenever you happen to notice them on your property.
4 – Soapy Water
Soapy water might be able to do the trick if you don’t have baking soda or vinegar that you can use. For this to work, you’re just going to need to use a bit of dish soap.
Mix two tablespoons of dish soap with three gallons of water. Once you have your mixture made up, you’re just going to need to spray it directly on the mushrooms.
This simple mixture should be able to take care of mild mushroom problems. So long as you have dish soap in your house, it’ll be possible to get rid of the them in your mulch.
5 – Start Keeping Your Yard Clean
It’s possible that more mushrooms will grow in the area if you’re leaving debris in the yard for too long. Many people forget to rake leaves or they leave piles of wood lying around for too long.
When you’re a busy professional, it isn’t always easy to find the time for yard work. However, it’s going to be important to clean up the yard to prevent mushrooms from growing.
Take the time to rake the leaves and dispose of the piles. Pick up fallen tree branches and other pieces of wood that are sitting in the yard.
If you keep your yard very clean, then the mushrooms won’t have the material that they need to grow. This will mean fewer spores and it’ll be less likely that your mulch will have issues with mushrooms.
6 – Rake the Mulch
Raking your mulch regularly can also help you to keep mushrooms from growing. Simply take a rake and turn the mulch over from time to time.
Remembering to do this should prevent the mulch from allowing the mushrooms to form. It’s a simple prevention method that works really well so long as you have a bit of time.
It might be a good idea to start raking your mulch once per week. This will keep the mulch aerated and it’ll prevent too much excess moisture from building up.
7 – Try to Avoid Watering More Than You Need to
As mentioned earlier, moisture is a factor that helps mushrooms to grow. You might be encouraging growth by watering the garden area too much.
Yes, you do need to water your plants so that they can do well, but you could be going overboard. Perhaps you’re getting water in spots where it isn’t needed and you’re creating excess moisture.
If you can be more careful with your watering practices, then you’ll be less likely to have issues with mushrooms in your yard. The mulch shouldn’t have problems with mushrooms if you rake it from time to time and you don’t water excessively.
8 – Add a New Layer of Mulch
Adding a new layer of mulch can help to prevent mushrooms from growing too. Every few years, it might be a good idea to add a new top layer of mulch.
Remember that mulch will generally take up to seven years to fully decompose. Topping the garden area with a bit of fresh mulch can be a good way to stave off mushroom growth.
You don’t want the mulch to be thicker than two or three inches, though. This means that you won’t always be able to add a new top layer of mulch as a solution.
9 – Replace the Mulch
Sometimes it’ll be necessary to just replace the mulch if you have a severe mushroom infestation. In this situation, you’d be better off completely discarding the old mulch.
Once you’ve thrown the old mulch out, you can lay down fresh new mulch. It might also be a good idea to treat the new mulch with fungicide at this point to try to prevent mushrooms from becoming a problem.
You’re going to have to replace old mulch sometimes anyway. Consider whether removing the old mulch is a practical idea or if it’d be better to try to kill the mushrooms.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.