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Ask a landscaper – Can I eat my garden mushrooms?

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Hi, after the rains over Christmas I was walking in my backyard when I saw bright orange mushrooms growing in the grass. They were not clustered, so I am having trouble identifying them. I know it is difficult to identify mushrooms from just a description but would love to hear if you have any idea what it might be?

This also got me thinking about whether or not these mushrooms might be dangerous to my dogs or toddler? Is there any treatment I need to do on the grass to keep them away in future?

And finally, is there a rule of thumb for identifying garden mushrooms that are? – Andre


Hi Andre, identifying a mushroom is very tricky without an image as a guide; I have an encyclopaedia which shows me more than 420 different fungi (mushrooms and toadstools). As I am unable to identify this exact mushroom I would be cautious. Whenever I see mushrooms in gardens where there are children and pets around, I usually remove the mushroom as a safety precaution. Not all mushrooms in our gardens are toxic, but until we correctly identify this mushroom I would call it TOXIC!

The toxicity varies: Some fungi will give you an upset tummy within 30 to 60 minutes, while the more deadly varieties only produce symptoms eight to 12 hours after ingestion. Fungi can also become poisonous if they are in high-traffic and industrial areas as they get the poisonous toxins from the ground.

With all the rain we have been blessed with, there is a lot of moisture around. Fungi love moist, damp, cool areas, among leaves, on your lawn and on logs. Did you know that Truffles are a type of fungi?

There are poisons which can be put down to control mushrooms, but they also kill the good bacteria and living organisms within the soil. If you are afraid of your toddler and pets eating them, I would then pick and throw them away in a bin out of your toddler’s reach. If your lawn is susceptible to mushrooms, it may mean that your soil gets water logged and holds water for longer periods of time; this may be caused by a high clay content or a very rich organic matter content. I would rake some river sand over your lawn for a season and see if this helps. River sand helps to aerate the soil and allows the soil to drain more freely.

I hope these tips help and if you do get an image of one of those mushrooms please do send it. – Nick

Got a burning gardening question? Email mariette@hometimes.co.za and we’ll be sure to assist you

Who is Nicholas Spargo?

Nicholas Spargo

Nicholas Spargo, owner of Spargo Landscape Consultants, has been in the landscape trade for 12 years as well as being a lecturer at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre for the past year. He was awarded a Gold for a design at the Lifestyle Garden Design Centre Design Show in 2008, is an Invasive Species Consultant and is affiliated with the South African Green Industries Council.

Landscaping and education are very close to his heart.



Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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