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The lawn is an ecosystem that includes fungi. Scattered fungi are usually not a problem, if the green is weakened, black fungi, among other things, can appear in large quantities.

In a nutshell

  • Black mushrooms can be poisonous
  • Witch rings require quick action, otherwise the turf will be permanently damaged
  • Reducing nutrients in the soil reduces black fungus and can starve the mycelium in the long term
  • Scarifying and aerating helps with prevention
  • The pH value is optimized by liming, which means that black fungi no longer feel comfortable

Identify mushrooms

As with plants, fungi also have different requirements when it comes to their location. Knowing exactly what black fungus it is can help fight it. Various black fungi can appear on lawns.
There are some types of mushrooms that are black in color or some types turn black with age. Some typical fungi that can appear in lawns are:

thin-skinned potato puff; Source: This image was created by user Gerhard Koller (Gerhard) at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images.
You can contact this user here. German | espanol | french | italiano | macedonian | മലയാളം | portugues | +/−, 2012-08-25 Scleroderma verrucosum (Bull.) Pers 254103, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Thin-skinned potato puffball (Scleroderma verrucosum)
  • Blackening Sapling (Hygrocybe conica)
  • Punctate-pore fertilizer (Panaeolus olivaceus)
  • Black-blue Baldhead (Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa)
  • Lesser Crested Inkling (Coprinus sterquilinus)
  • Black-blue russet (Entoloma atrocaerulea)

One reason why it's important to know which fungus you are dealing with is to be able to assess the potential for danger. Mushrooms such as the ink cap would even be edible, but others such as the punctate-pored manure cap are poisonous and can pose a danger to babies playing in the grass, for example.
In order for these fungi to settle on lawns, they need suitable site conditions, including, for example, nutrient-rich soil or a suitable pH value. If the right temperatures and the right humidity are available for a sufficiently long time, the first mushrooms will sprout within a very short time.

small crested inkling; Source: This image was created by user Copyright ©2011 TimmiT at Mushroom Observer, a source for mycological images.
You can contact this user here. German | espanol | french | italiano | macedonian | മലയാളം | portugues | +/−, 2011-12-01 Coprinus sterquilinus (Fries) Fries 187445, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Observe species protection

If you want to fight black fungi in your lawn, you should keep species protection in mind. In order for a fungus to settle, the conditions must be optimal. Protected species in particular hardly find suitable site conditions anymore. If you have a protected fungus in your garden, such as black olive sapling, which is not poisonous but is considered inedible, you should consider whether the stock is sustainable or whether it will cause lasting damage to the lawn or even pose a danger to children or pets given is.

Witch rings for nutrient deficiency

Mushrooms have high nutritional requirements. If they find sufficient nutrients in the soil, they spread irregularly and over large areas. Even if black fungi spread over a large area in the lawn, there is usually no danger to the green.

Mushrooms only become a problem when they form so-called witch rings. The mushrooms are arranged in a circle and the rings can also get bigger. The reason for this ring arrangement is that the fungi in the center have depleted the nutrients and thus migrate farther and farther away from the space towards new sources of nutrients. Visually, the lack of nutrients can also be seen in the grass. The growth is stunted and the grass is often lighter in the affected areas. Occasionally it can happen that mosses get the upper hand in such places because the turf becomes lighter.

Notice: You can easily recognize a formation of a witch ring by the fact that the grass in the affected areas only gets darker. It is the nutrient limit and the mycelium is already extracting nutrients from the soil underground at this limit.

ways to combat

If you have found that the fungus in the garden is not acceptable, there are several ways you can get rid of black fungus from your lawn without fungicides:

  • change the water regime
  • reduce nutrients
  • aerate soil
  • change pH
  • change lighting conditions
  • mow properly

Both too much and too little water can encourage fungal colonization. Although watering in summer helps the lawn to grow nice and strong, the water increases the air and soil moisture, which promotes fungal growth. A problem area for fungi are areas that are regularly shaded for long periods of time. A simple help is changing the light conditions and watering correctly.
In order to bring more light to some places, you can thin out bushes or trees, for example. It is problematic if, for example, a building provides shade. Here you should take other measures.
This can be, for example, increased or reduced watering of the lawn. In the case of fungal infestation, it helps if you water more and thus flush out nutrients. To combat fungi or prevent an infestation, proceed as follows when watering:

  • Water when temperatures are below 20°C
  • Water as needed (not during rainy periods)
  • Let the floor dry in between

The ideal time to water the lawn is late in the evening or at night. This gives the soil the opportunity to dry out again and again during the day, which also promotes root formation for the grass. If you want to avoid watering, you can mulch the soil. Here, however, there is a risk that too many nutrients will get into the soil, which in turn favors fungi. Above all, mushrooms like the ink cap prefer very nutrient-rich and sometimes even over-fertilized areas.
Black fungi are therefore also a sign that you have meant too well with the fertilization. If you mulch the lawn at least once a week, you can do without additional fertilizer. The advantage is that the balance between fertilization and consumption of nutrients by mulching is very good and fungi find it difficult to establish themselves.

care as prevention

One of the reasons why black fungi or fungi in general settle in the lawn is lack of care. Above all, aerating or scarifying the lawn would prevent fungi, but garden owners often neglect it. In many species, the mycelium of mushrooms lies only a few centimeters below the ground. By scarifying and aerating, you aerate the soil, which causes the mycelium to dry out and suffer long-term damage.
Scarifying also ensures that the soil gets enough light, which in turn can prevent fungi. So that the fungi don't stand a chance and the lawn develops healthily and vigorously, proper care is particularly important in the spring.
To do this, proceed as follows:

  • Carry out the first lawn cut at a height of approx. 10 cm
  • Scarify the turf
  • Aerate turf
  • Scatter quartz sand and put it in the holes
  • Distribute lawn lime evenly with spreaders

Most people are still familiar with scarifying, and few hobby gardeners know how to aerate. An aerator has spikes several centimeters long and provides a deeper aeration. The sand loosens the soil and at the same time provides drainage, which helps to prevent black fungi, especially in very damp and shady areas.
Note: Many black mushrooms prefer acidic soil. The wrong pH level is one of the reasons why fungi grow in the lawn. A simple help is regular liming.

frequently asked Questions

Do black fungus species need to be removed before mowing the lawn?

Yes, you should remove the fruiting bodies of the mushrooms before mowing. This will prevent the spores from spreading over a large area.

When is the best time to remove black fungus species?

You can carry out a fungus control all year round. Even mild winters can reveal the black fungus that you need to remove.

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