Are you struggling with a circular patch of mushrooms growing on your lawn? If so, you might be dealing with a Fairy Ring. Fairy Rings are a common lawn problem that is caused by fungi. In this article, we will explore what Fairy Rings are, how they form, how best to manage them and whether the mushrooms growing in them are edible.
What are Fairy Rings?
Fairy Rings are usually circular or semi-circular patches of mushrooms that grow on lawns. They can range in size from a few inches to several feet in diameter. These rings are usually formed by the underground growth of fungi, which release enzymes that break down organic matter in the soil.
As the fungi grow, they release nitrogen and other nutrients, which can cause the grass to grow more quickly and become greener inside and outside of the ring. These rings grow each year which is why you often see them as circles when they are small and more like semi-circles when they are much larger.
The reason that the circle forms is that the grass dies usually due to drought. The fungi excrete a waxy coating covering the soil particles which repel water. This makes the soil hydrophobic. You can throw a bucket of water on the affected area and it will move sideways not soak downwards.
How do Fairy Rings Form?
Fairy Rings can form for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common causes include:
- Decomposing organic matter: As mentioned earlier, Fairy Rings can form when fungi break down organic matter in the soil. This can include old tree stumps, dead roots, and other organic materials.
- Poor soil conditions: Fairy Rings can also form in soil that is compacted or has poor drainage. When the soil is compacted, it prevents water and air from reaching the roots of the grass, which can lead to fungal growth.
- Excess fertiliser: Applying too much fertiliser to your lawn can also cause Fairy Rings to form. High nitrogen feeds stress the plant and creates blooms of soil fauna and flora. Balance is the key here!
Are Fairy Ring Mushrooms Edible?
While some mushrooms that grow in Fairy Rings are edible, others can be toxic. It’s essential to identify the species of mushrooms before consuming any of them. It’s also important to note that even edible mushrooms can accumulate toxins if they grow in contaminated soil. Therefore, it’s recommended that you do not consume any mushrooms growing on your lawn, even if you have positively identified them as an edible species.
If you want to get rid of them either pick them up and dispose of them in a bin (to prevent spores spreading). A healthy lawn depends on a healthy soil and a healthy soil is made up of billions of fungi and bacteria.
Fairy Rings can be a frustrating and unsightly lawn problem, and for that reason should be managed. Pick off the fruiting bodies, and the mushrooms, fork the dead areas and apply a weak solution of water and washing up liquid (an alternative wetting agent). This will help penetrate the waxy covering on the soil particles by reducing the surface tension of water. Additionally, you can improve soil conditions by aerating the soil. With some effort and patience, you can successfully manage Fairy Rings and keep your lawn healthy and beautiful.