They weren’t there last night, but when you woke up this morning they were all over the place. Like magic, a carpet of plump mushrooms has unexpectedly sprouted in your otherwise perfectly green lawn. This article will discuss why your yard suddenly has this surprise and what your best options are for getting rid of them.
What Are Mushrooms
Mushrooms seem to appear “out of nowhere” because they are actually only a small manifestation of something much larger that’s going on underneath your yard. Below the grass, fungi are growing in long filaments known as hyphae. These hyphae form a criss-crossed thatch in the soil, feeding on decaying organic material. Because they speed up the natural composting of organic matter, the presence of hyphae in your yard can actually be beneficial as they work to free up key nutrients for use by plants.
If these fungi are thriving underground, then when conditions are ripe they shoot up a reproductive structure, and voila: mushrooms! The visible mushrooms are used to distribute very tiny spores that act like seeds and distribute future fungi.
The Good News
While mushrooms may seem unsightly, they generally don’t pose a horticultural threat to your lawn and don’t cause any lawn “diseases.” In fact, because of how they break down organic matter they may be partially responsible for your otherwise good-looking grass.
The Bad News
Although mushrooms aren’t inherently dangerous to other plants, they can be very poisonous and care must be taken to prevent young children and pets from sneaking a snack. If the unseen hyphae become too thickly matted underground they can also choke off grass roots, preventing them from getting needed air and water, eventually turning a once-lush lawn brown.
So what should you do? Unfortunately, eradicating the underlying fungi is virtually impossible. However, here are a few steps you can do to keep them in check:
Left to their own devices, most mushrooms will dry out and disappear within a few days. Of course, during that interim they will be busy spreading spores. While picking a mushroom won’t hurt the hyphae down below, removing the mushroom quickly will prevent them from distributing as many “seeds.”
Most mushrooms thrive in cool, damp environments. If you regularly water your yard, consider backing off a little. Most lawns can survive with only a good dousing every week or two. Reducing your watering will both help your grass develop stronger roots while making the circumstances less desirable for mushrooms.
Using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer can also help. The nitrogen will help strengthen your grass. It will also speed up the decomposition of organic matter, leaving less for the mushroom-makers to munch on.
Don’t Use Fungicide
While there are lots of fungicides available on the market, none of them are effective against mushroom hyphae. Spare yourself the cost, labor, and exposure to chemicals by not using fungicide to in your fight against mushrooms.
Most yard-enthusiasts encounter mushrooms at some point or another in their lawn care. Keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself surprised by one of these odd-looking lawn ornaments.
To learn more about lawn care, contact a company like Valley Green Companies.
Evergreen trees are a beautiful way to add a little natural style to your yard, but they are prone to infestation by insects and vermin that can kill them in less than a season. One of the most destructive of these creatures is the spruce budworm. Learn all you can about this disgusting creature to avoid letting it ruin your trees.
The spruce budworm is an insect that is relatively harmless in its adult state, but which is responsible for massive defoliation of white spruce across the country. The larvae of these creatures attack the needles and shoots of the spruce and eat them to help spur on their natural life cycle.
The adult is a brown moth-type creature, while the larvae are small, white worms that are very hard to see due to their small size and their tendency to bore directly into the surface of needles and shoots.
When the larvae of the spruce budworm burrow into the needles, they start to feed. After the budworms reach a certain size, they bust out of the needle and sever it. Then they cast a web in which they capture other severed needles that they can eat. This has the impact of slowly defoliating an entire tree, which in turn can lead to its slow death: trees infested with the spruce budworm usually die one year after initial defoliation.
Unchecked spruce budworm infestations have been known to completely devastate a local environment. For example, a study of an infestation in British Columbia was found to cover 3.2 million hectares in 2013, a jump from 2.2 of the year before. That’s roughly the size of Belgium. Even worse, experts estimate that 90% of the trees infested with the spruce budworm in that area are likely to die.
Range of Infestation
The spruce budworm is often broken up into two different species: the eastern and western budworm. They are basically the same creature and are both heavily destructive in various parts of the northern United States and Canada.
For example, the western spruce budworm is present in:
Eliminating spruce budworms for your trees requires patience and a variety of control techniques. A combination of the following control methods should kill off many of your tree’s invaders:
Now that you have an insight into the spruce budworm, use that information to get it out of your yard and your trees forever. If you don’t think you can handle it on your own, call a tree services expert, such as Tidd Tree, as soon as possible.
Whether it’s a small home orchard or a larger operation, weed control around the trees is vital. Not only does it make access for care and harvesting simpler, weeds also compete with the trees for necessary nutrients and water. A soft covering of grass is the perfect mulch in your orchards. The grass provides a mulch, which helps cool the soil, retains moisture, and prevents the topsoil from rinsing away. This guide will help you implement a grass mulching plan in your orchard.
The area beneath the trees is obviously shaded, which rules out many of the sun-loving turf grasses. For this reason, St. Augustine grass is a natural choice, since it thrives in shade. It’s one drawback is that it can take several months to establish, during which time regular weed control is necessary. It becomes fairly low maintenance once it is growing well.
Annual ryegrasses are another option, since they can grow and establish quickly without the need for the initial establishment period required of St. Augustine. Their primary drawback is that they will need to be reseeded annually to ensure a lush ground cover.
Grass provides additional benefits in the orchard, beyond those listed above. Grasses, like most green foliage plants, contain a lot of nitrogen. Nitrogen is a necessary component for healthy plant growth, including the growth of trees. Leaving the grass clipping on the ground to decompose between the orchard trees returns this nitrogen to the ground, where it can aid future plant growth.
Organic mulches, such as straw, are sometimes used instead of grass. Although these keep down weeds and conserve water, they also can harbor insects and disease organisms, or provide hiding and nesting sites for small rodents. These pests can then attack your fruit trees. Healthy grass is generally free of these pests.
Caring for grass mulch beneath the fruit trees is fairly straightforward. The grass will require fertilization with a lawn fertilizer in spring, followed by mowing to control the height for orchard access. Keeping a small ring of soil bare just around the base of each tree can minimize the chances of lawnmower damage to the tree trunks.
Grass also requires watering, although grasses like St. Augustine can generally survive brief dry periods and will green up again when the moisture returns. Usually natural rainfall combined with the irrigation necessary for the fruit trees is sufficient to keep the grass healthy.
For more information, contact a company like California Sod Center.