Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Huff and Puff? What's THAT in my Grass? Not the Dog Again!

I have found these brown things in my lawn and flower beds from time to time (no, they are not doggie doo).  These particular specimens are from a neighbor's yard.  I am pretty certain these are members of the fungus family and are mature puffballs.  Puffballs are an aptly named fungus.  They are often first noticed when they are an above-ground, roundish ball which, as they mature, often darken and open up, emitting "puffs" of spores by the thousands.  If you have ever picked one of these up, you have probably noticed the powdery spores all over your hands and puffing up into the air.  These spores can cause allergic reactions if inhaled.
What to do about them? There are complex and costly anti-fungal treatments for your lawns, but for puffballs, I just dig 'em up while wearing gloves and gently place them into a plastic bag for disposal.  They have a very tenuous attachment to the soil. The condition that encourages the growth of these interesting non-plant plants (these ancient organisms are genetically closer to animals than plants) is an overly damp lawn (which invites other, more nasty fungal diseases anyway). So, if you must have a lawn, water in the early morning, so the grass has a chance to dry: never water at night. Do not overfeed your lawn- rapid growth is more vulnerable to fungi.  Walk your lawn in early spring and remove any newly forming puffballs.  It is likely you will not have major problems with them in the future.
Happy gardening!

1 comment:

Anita said...

Puffballs?! :) I actually think I've seen this before.

Double clicking to see it enlarged gave me a memorable view. I should recognize it if I come across it again.