DEAR JOAN — I just picked a mushroom out of my lawn. I have two beagles that eat everything. Is this a dangerous one? They are coming out everywhere!
Anything nontoxic to get rid of them if they are bad ones?
Sharon Stevens, Newark, Calif.
DEAR SHARON: When it comes to animals and mushrooms, veterinarians tell us to treat all mushrooms as poisonous. That way, you don’t have to wonder about it, and you can protect your dog from a potentially fatal mistake. Even mushrooms that are considered safe for humans can cause stomach upset in some dogs, so the best thing is to remove the funghi.
That’s easier said than done.
The presence of mushrooms in your lawn can be an indication that your soil is healthy. Mushrooms help to break down organic matter, making nutrients available to other plants. They also can be a sign that your lawn is getting too much water — we often see mushrooms popping up after heavy rains — or that your lawn may be suffering with a thick layer of thatch. If you have a tree planted nearby, the mushrooms could be sprouting from a dying tree root.
We also tend to have a lot of organic material in our lawns and flower beds — looking at you, wood chips — so you should give your lawn a good raking and cleanup, which will help eliminate the mushrooms.
There are ways of getting rid of them above and below ground, but some of those methods would put your dogs at risk, and others can harm your lawn. The use of fungicides is not recommended for people with pets and children. Horticultural vinegar, which is much stronger than household vinegar, is safer, but can kill the grass.
Spraying a mixture of 2 tablespoons baking soda to a gallon of water will slowly kill the mushrooms. You also can poke holes in the soil around the mushrooms and pour in a mixture of 2 tablespoons dish soap with up to 3 gallons water.
The fastest and perhaps easiest way is to simply pluck them from the ground, although that won’t stop them from fruiting again. You’ll have to keep an eye out for new ones popping up.