If you’re looking for something to add nutrients to your lawn, you have probably come across mushroom compost as an option you could try.
You may be wondering if it’s a good choice, or if you should go with something else instead. So, is mushroom compost good for lawns? ( My findings explained )
Mushroom compost is often said to be a good product to use for lawns, and it certainly has some advantages, like its price and its nutrient balance.
However, it’s important to be aware of problems that can arise from its pH value and the fact that it often contains peat. Weigh up your decision carefully before purchasing it!
What Are The Pros Of Using Mushroom Compost?
Let’s weigh up the advantages of using mushroom compost for your lawn.
Mushroom compost can often be bought quite inexpensively because it has already been used to grow mushrooms in, and it is therefore a waste product that can be sold at relatively low cost.
If you are looking to cover a large area of lawn, you might find that mushroom compost is one of the most economical choices.
If you only have to cover a small area of grass, you may wish to purchase a more expensive dressing such as topsoil or compost, but for big areas, mushroom compost can be a good choice because it does not cost too much.
This kind of compost is particularly good for lawns. It adds some nutrients without overwhelming the grass, and it can be very easily spread on your lawn.
All you need to do is add the compost on top and then rake it over the grass to thicken and enrich its growth.
You shouldn’t need to add other soil improvers if you use mushroom compost for your lawn, so this is a great thing to do when your grass is looking a little yellow and sad.
It Improves Moisture Retention
Like some of the other soil improvers, mushroom compost can help to balance the water in the soil and make it stay near the roots of the plants.
It is great if your soil is sandy and water just drains away through it at speed.
For anyone who lives in a hot environment, mushroom compost can be a great way to help your grass hold onto moisture throughout the summer, reducing the frequency with which you need to water and improving the health of your lawn.
It Can Break Down Clay
If you use mushroom compost on your clay soil consistently, it will (over time) start to break up and improve the clay.
It helps to improve the drainage and the structure, and makes it easier to grow plants in the soil.
If you have a lot of clay in your garden, consider using mushroom compost from time to time to break it up and make the soil better.
This should help when you come to grow anything, whatever kind of compost you use for it.
It Doesn’t Encourage Weeds
One of the top reasons to use mushroom compost for your lawn is that it is relatively low in nutrients compared with other composts and soils.
If you add a lot of nutrients to your lawn all at once, you’ll find that weeds start to grow, and your lawn actually looks worse, not better.
However, with low nutrient content, the mushroom compost will improve the soil around your lawn slowly, and this will stop the weeds from coming up in it so readily. It also works as a mulch if you wish to use it this way.
What Are The Cons Of Using Mushroom Compost?
Of course, mushroom compost has some disadvantages too; it is not perfect. Let’s explore why you may wish to think twice before using it and how you can minimize these disadvantages.
It Is Not Rich In Nutrients
While this is helpful because it doesn’t encourage weed growth, it also means that the compost is more limited in terms of the value that it offers to your plants.
It isn’t going to enrich your lawn massively, and so it may not be as helpful as other offerings.
You can of course mix mushroom compost with ordinary compost or topsoil to make the most of its properties while also boosting the nutrients, so this is one way to resolve this issue.
However, it does increase the expense and complexity of using it a bit.
It Is Salty
Mushroom compost is quite high in salt. Although grasses are not too sensitive to salts (this is one reason that mushroom compost is good for lawns), you still don’t want to add too much at once.
You should only spread a thin layer of mushroom compost any time that you dress your lawn with it.
You can buy mushroom composts that have reduced salt, which may be a good idea if you plan to use a lot.
It is also possible to reduce the salt yourself to a degree by watering the compost thoroughly, washing the salt down to the bottom layer.
Allow the compost to dry out a bit, discard the bottom layer, and you’ll have some reduced salt mushroom compost
However, remember that you can’t easily tell how much of the salt has washed away, so it’s not a very reliable method, and you should be careful about using this on salt-sensitive plants.
It should be totally fine for your lawn, however!
It Often Contains Peat
Many gardeners are moving away from peat as a product they use in their gardens because harvesting peat is extremely damaging to the environment.
Unfortunately, mushroom compost often does contain peat because of its excellent water retention properties.
If you are purchasing mushroom compost, you should look for ones that do not contain peat.
These are becoming more readily available, but it is still important to check and make sure so you aren’t contributing to ecological damage through your purchase.
There Are No Beneficial Microorganisms
Although mushroom compost does contain nutrients, it has to be sterilized before it is sold to avoid mushroom spores infecting your plants and garden.
This means that all microorganisms, both beneficial and harmful, are killed before you get your hands on the compost.
These microorganisms serve many purposes, but a particularly important one is making your plants more disease-resistant.
Fortunately, this is rarely a big problem when it comes to lawns, but this drawback is still worth bearing in mind.
It Can Be Quite Alkaline
If the chalk has not been removed from the mushroom compost, it may have high pH levels.
Although you can remove some of the chalk yourself, you should still be aware that the mushroom compost is more alkaline than acid. A lot is just neutral, but you should check before using it.
Grasses, on the whole, prefer neutral or slightly acidic pH values, and won’t be happy if you add a lot of alkalinity to their environment.
Some of the finer grasses, like fescue grasses, will suffer particularly from alkaline soil.
However, a light dressing of mushroom compost is unlikely to make much difference to the pH of your soil.
As long as you test beforehand and add some ericaceous compost if the soil is already a high pH value, it should be fine to add mushroom compost in small quantities, even if your grass is an acid-lover.
It’s worth noting that if you buy unspent mushroom compost (as opposed to compost that has been used to grow mushrooms), it shouldn’t contain chalk, as this comes from the bed that the mushrooms are grown in.
Can I Use Mushroom Compost To Start Grass Seeds Off?
What about if you’re just seeding a young lawn, or filling in bare patches on an established lawn? Can you use mushroom compost there, or is it better not to?
Grass seed loves mushroom compost, and should thrive in a dressing of it. This is great news for manual seeding and for instances where you allow your grass to seed itself.
The moisture retention property is one of the biggest reasons that mushroom compost is good for young grass, which needs lots of readily available water.
It also offers a good blend of nutrients, and the grass seeds shouldn’t suffer from too much competition with weeds.
You can use mushroom compost as a mulch on top of the seeds as well, covering them up and protecting them from birds.
Overall, then, should you use mushroom compost for your lawn? It’s hard to answer definitively.
There is a lot of debate about the usefulness of mushroom compost, and the pros and cons need to be weighed up carefully, with the context of your own lawn being taken into account.
If you have a high alkaline lawn already, you may choose to add a more acidic or neutral soil improver to avoid causing problems.
Mushroom compost is a reasonably good budget option and it does tick many of the boxes that lawns require from their fertilizer.
However, you should probably use it sparingly to avoid running into too many problems with it.