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We gave up on grass for much of our front yard after a disastrously hot and dry summer last year. (I couldn't morally live with the idea of soaking the yard with enough water to keep the grass alive, especially as I watched the primary area reservoir sink lower and lower.) So the problem parts of the yard are now covered in a few inches of dark mulch, with some rocks and native drought-tolerant shrubs, succulents, etc. Looks a little goofy but I'm happy with it for the most part.

Anyway it's been a lot wetter so far this year. Over the past couple of days we've seen a burst of mushroom activity. There are lots of them, almost uniformly across the shadier part of the area. Now to me, ignorant though I am, that means that there's some really happy fungus working over the bottom layer of the mulch, which is probably a really great thing for the soil (which still has to keep some 20yo live oak trees alive). I figure it's a good thing to leave them alone, and I already plan to add some more mulch pretty soon and turn it over to some extent.

The things are kind-of freaking my wife out however, and she's worried that they might actually be bad for the trees.

I can't say that I've seen this specific type of mushroom before, but then I've never had any of that particular kind of mulch in my yard and I figure the spores were there when it showed up in the truck last fall.

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Related: gardening.stackexchange.com/q/1529/109 (I believe the answers there, especially Mancuniensis', might answer your question too). If so, let me know and we can close it as a duplicate. –  Lorem Ipsum Mar 17 '12 at 16:45
    
I saw that one, and I agree that they seem related, however I'm not educated enough to know whether the fact that that one was specifically about mushrooms in the lawn, while I specifically have mushrooms in the absence of a lawn. My concern (well, my wife's concern) is for our trees, not lawn. I acknowledge (and expect, in fact) the answer might be the same however. –  Pointy Mar 17 '12 at 16:48
    
Yeah, I'm mostly certain the answer is the same — "don't worry, or if you do, then just pick them out" — we'll let a few others chime in and see if they vote as a dupe or perhaps answer differently :) –  Lorem Ipsum Mar 17 '12 at 17:09
    
This is a different question. –  J. Musser Mar 18 '12 at 2:04
    
Exactly what kind of mulch is it? –  Ed Staub Mar 19 '12 at 17:43

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The mushrooms will not harm the trees. They are decomposing the mulch, and have no interest in a live tree. If you want to, you can remove the caps and stalks, as these are just reproductive organs and do not have anything to do with the fungus health. A layer of mulch like that, while decomposing, will take up a large amount of nitrogen from the soil, so sprinkling blood meal should help the trees.

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OK, fascinating. So this "blood meal" stuff can be applied atop the mulch, or should I sort-of fold it in? I'll be adding mulch anyway (apparently something I'll be doing forever). Thanks! –  Pointy Mar 18 '12 at 13:09
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blood meal is a mildly smelly granular powder that can be spread with gloves and raked in. –  kevinsky Mar 18 '12 at 22:55
    
@kevinsky, you stole my words! –  J. Musser Mar 19 '12 at 0:17

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