Issue: September 29th, 1997

Mushrooms everywhere


I live here in Las Cruces. One section of my back yard is overrun with mushrooms. (An area of approx. 8x15) I have tried a solution of Weed-B-Gon(TM) but with no success. I hesitate to go to a stronger solution for fear of killing my grass (fescue), but my back is getting tired of bending over and picking them out one by one. Any suggestions?


Yours is a common complaint, and the answer is not what the gardener wants to hear. Mushrooms are fungi; weed killers, such as the one you used, will have little affect on them. Use of fungicides, however, is also not recommended.

The fungi which produce the mushrooms are an important part of our environment, releasing the nutrients from dead grass, tree roots, and any other dead organisms in the soil. Without them, we would have a very difficult time growing gardens and lawns. They compost dead debris such as old dead tree roots, lawn thatch - anything that dies. Most of these composting fungi are not pathogenic and should not cause you to worry that they will attack your healthy, well-cared-for lawn and garden plants. As long as the weather (moisture) and food source (decomposing organic matter) remain, the mushrooms will keep appearing. So......enjoy them, just realize that you shouldn't eat them unless you are an expert at mushroom identification.

Having said all of that, when the mushroom caps are very new, before they fully open and ripen their spores, you can use them for golf practice. This will remove the obvious mushroom caps from the lawn, but the fungus will still remain below. After the spores mature, you will just spread the fungus spores if you hit or kick the mushrooms.

They can be attractive and interesting, especially if you learn to make spore prints by placing the mushroom cap right-side-up on a sheet of dark or light construction paper. Then, as the spores are released, they will form a pretty pattern which is useful in identifying them and quite artistic as a side benefit.

Spreading compost


I read your notes about spreading compost over an established lawn. How does one do this? Is there a type a spreader that is preferable? My cheap spreader just locks up on compost I've crumbled though a screen.


The simplest way to spread the compost is with a shovel or by hand, then rake it to spread it more evenly. Short of using a farm scale manure spreader, I don't think you will find a home fertilizer spreader that will do the job. You will spend most of your time unclogging the spreader. Though it is a bit of work, applying compost to the soil will help your lawn and is worth the effort.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!