Category: Organic Lawn Care

What is growing in your landscape mulch?

Mulch Mushrooms

Mulch Mushrooms

As with nearly all other organic matter, wood and bark decompose over time. The primary organisms involved with the decomposition are bacteria and fungi. The fungi involved in the decomposition of mulch are natural components of the mulch environment. Some fungi, such as the artillery fungi, are ‘recyclers’ and break down woody tissue directly. Fungi-like organisms, such as as slime mold, consume bacteria and other organisms living in the mulch.  These molds are normally found from April through October, weather dependent.

This article describes the four common types of organisms found growing in mulch throughout Pennsylvania.

Mushrooms, Slime Molds, Bird’s Nest Fungus, and the Artillery Fungus.



Common Names: Mushrooms, Toad stools. Scientific names: Many different fungi produce mushrooms.

Mulch Mushrooms

Mulch Mushrooms

What do mushrooms look like? They come in various colors, shapes, and sizes ranging from less than an inch to several inches tall. Some are soft and fleshy and disappear soon after they emerge: others may remain in mulch for a few days, weeks, or an entire growing season.

The only serious issues that mushrooms produce? They may poisonous if eaten. While I highly hope that no one is eating mushrooms from there landscape mulch, take caution with children and pets.

What should be done? Appreciate their beauty, ignore them, or remove them. Anything you want – do not worry about spraying an anti-fungi as this can cause more harm then the mushrooms themselves.



Slime Molds

Common Name: Slime Molds, “dog vomit”. Scientific Names: Species of Physarum, Fuligo, and Stemonitis.

Slime Mold

Slime Mold

What do slime molds look like? They start as brightly colored (yellow, orange, etc.), slimy masses that are several inches to more than a foot across. They produce many tiny, dark spores. These molds dry out and turn brown, eventually appearing as a white, dry, powdery mass.

What kind of problems do they cause? None. These fungi-like organisms are ‘feeding’ on bacteria growing in the mulch. They are normally a temporary nuisance confined to small areas.

Slime Mold

Slime Mold

What can you do about Slime Mode? Slime molds may be left in place to decompose. If their appearance is offensive, discard the fruiting bodies in a compost pile, household garbage, or a spot in the yard away from existing mulch.




Bird’s Nest Fungus

Common Name: Bird’s Nest Fungus. Scientific Names: Species of Crucibulum and Cyathus.

Bird's Nest Fungi

Bird’s Nest Fungi

What does Bird’s Nest Fungi look like? They resemble tiny, gray to brown bird’s nests or splash cups with eggs. The nest is up to 1/4 inch in diameter.



Do they cause problems? No. These fungi may grow in large areas of mulch, but they are not a problem. The ‘eggs’ are masses of spores that splash out of the nest when hit by a raindrop. These spores occasionally stick to surfaces, as do the spores of the artillery fungus, but they are easily removed and do not leave a stain.

How can you remove Bird’s Nest Fungus? These naturally occurring fungi decompose organic matter and do not need to be removed. They are interested to look at – show them to your children! Removing them is nearly impossible because of the size and amount. If they really are visual unattractive to you then the best bet will be to mulch over them.



Artillery Fungus

Common Name: Artillery Fungus. Scientific Name: Species of Sphaerobolus.

Artillery Fungus

Artillery Fungus

What does artillery fungi look like? They resemble a tiny, cream or orange-brown cup with one black egg. The cup is approximately 1/10 inch in diameter. Areas of mulch with artillery fungus may appear matted and lighter in color than the surrounding mulch.



Artillery Fungus Damage

Artillery Fungus Damage

Do they cause problems? They may be a problem, yes. The fruiting body of this fungus orients itself toward bright surfaces, such as light-color houses or parked automobiles. Weird, I know. They artillery fungus “shoots” its black, sticky spore mass, which can be windblown as high as the second story of a house. The spore mass sticks to the side of a building or automobile, resembling a small speck of tar. You may also find them on the undersides of leaves on plants growing in mulch areas.

Once in place, the spore mass is very difficult to remove without damaging the surface to which has become attached. If removed, it leaves a stain. A few of these spores are barely noticeable, but as they accumulate, they may come very unsightly on houses and cars.

What can be done about Artillery Fungi? Penn State researches have recently discovered that blending 40 percent used mushroom compost with landscape mulch greatly suppresses the artillery fungus. Mushroom compost, or mushroom soil, is the pasteurized material on which mushrooms are grown. After the final crops of mushroom are picked, the used compost is pastuerized a second time and removed from the mushroom house. This valuable by-product (sometimes called ‘Black Gold’, or ‘Mushroom S***’. Yes, I know but I have heard this before!) is often made available to gardeners and home-owners. Used mushroom compost has physical and chemical characteristics that make it ideal for blending with landscape mulch to enhance growth of horticultural plants. In addition, mushroom compost contains beneficial microbes that compete with, or actually destroy, nuisance fungi such as the artillery fungus and bird’s nest fungi. Homeowners are increasingly interested in controlling nuisance fungi without the use of chemicals. Blending used mushroom compost with landscape mulch offers a “green” and environmentally friendly solution to reducing the harmful effects of the artillery fungus.


Preparing your property for Winter.

Lego Services Fall Cleanup

We recently put an add for fall services in our local newspaper (to the right), and we wanted to add a blog post to give a better idea of what exactly fall lawn maintenance includes and why is is so important.

Fall is one of your lawns favorite time of the year. After the hot and dry summer the cool air and moisture rejuvenates your lawn and helps get it ready for the winter months ahead. You might not know however that fall is one of the most critical times to perform maintenance and get your lawn ready for winter – and returning healthier in the spring.

What needs to be done to your lawn during the fall?

  • Keep the leaves cleaned up. Don’t wait until they all fall from the trees to remove them from your lawn. Doing this prevents the sunlight from reaching the grass blades and blocking food from your lawn. Your lawn needs to store food right now for the winter months ahead.
  • Mow your lawn around 2 1/2 ” – 2 3/4″ during the fall months. If your have long grass after snow fall mice, moles and other pests will use the grass to stay warm under the snow during the winter.
  • Mulching your leaves is a great way to return nutrients to your soil and prevent leaf build up.
  • Aerating your lawn in the fall pokes holes into the soil allowing water and nutrients to reach the roots and promote strong root systems for your lawn.
  • Fall fertilizers such as Scott’s Winter Guard strengthen and feed your turf grass while providing proactive weed control. Even if you do not want to use a chemical fertilizer check out some organic feeds to help feed your lawn and prepare it for winter. The stronger your lawn in the fall the less weeds and more thickness you will have in the spring.
  • Fall is a great time to add new seed to your lawn. The cool moist weather is great for germination and this also helps thicken your lawn and reduce weeds in the spring.

Other things to consider during the fall.

  • Have your gutters cleaned out. Clogged gutters are a big cause of ice sickles. Fall leaves build up in gutters easily – even if you have gutter guards 9 chances out of 10 your gutters probably need cleaned out.
  • Winterize your lawn equipment. Empty the gas, change blades, spark plugs, and filters. Maintaining your equipment now ensures it will be ready to go during the spring.


If you have any questions or would like more information about anything outlined above give us a call at (814) 515-3115 or email us at We are always available to help – 7 days a week!

Tips to survive a drought.

Drought Riddled Lawn

The weather is scorching and rain is not falling in central Pennsylvania. With high temperatures and little water your lawn and garden is facing a really stressful situation. If you are not careful, it could end up dead.

The following tips will help you prepare your lawn for drought conditions

Watering your lawn

Wait for your lawn to turn a blueish-gray color before watering. Water deeply and infrequently instead of daily with a little bit of water. The intention for this is to build a strong deep root system. Try to water between 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM, try to pass up watering in windy conditions. You would like the water to soak in, not evaporate.

Mowing your lawn during a drought

Be cautious while mowing your lawn in harsh conditions. You should keep the mower deck 3″ and above all season long, but do not cut more than 1/3 of the grass during the dry period. Make sure your blades are sharp. Dull blades will only add to the strain level on your grass.

Fertilizing during a drought

Do not apply fertilizers through out a drought period. The salt in synthetic fertilizers will absorb what little moisture the grass and soil does have. Fertilizing during a drought will cause more stress then positive effects.

Compost during a drought

Apply a light layer of compost, not to much. Don’t smother your lawn. A rich compost will add minerals and nutrients, along with extra moisture for the soil and grasses.

Aerating and Dethatching during a drought

If your soil is compacted or you have a thatch build-up, aerating and dethatching will help build stronger root systems and allow more oxygen into your soil.

Watch where you step

You would be surprised how a much a little bit of foot traffic will stress out your lawn during a drought period.

Herbicides and Fungicides during a drought?

Do not apply either one of these products during a drought. They will cause way more harm then they will good.

Still having problems with your lawn this summer? Ask us a question at

Go Green with Property Maintenance

Why not explore different options for lawn maintenance? What can you do with your lawn to help give back to the earth?

Think reduce, reuse, recycle, or renew natural resources

When mowing lawn grass, keep all equipment in good condition. Keep the motors running smooth, the blades sharp, and the deck higher. Mow around 3 -4 inches in height. Why? Mowing higher helps produce stronger root systems in your lawn. Strong roots return healthier fuller grass. It actually even reduces the interval between cutting time. And the best part – higher grass shades out weeds. Less weeds and more grass is what we are all looking for. right?

Return grass clippings back to the lawn as you cut. Mulching or composting them back to the soil is a 100% guaranteed method to promote a healthy lawn.

Chemically treated grass clippings are best kept on the lawn to break down herbicides over a six-week period. Rethink chemicals. Reduce using chemicals to save time, money, and reduce toxic pollution. Stop killing beneficial life: microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, insects, and worms. They all recycle organic materials back to the soil. These little creatures are nature’s balance in a fascinating world under our feet.

Compost Piles

Reuse leaves, collected clippings, egg shells, mushrooms, coffee grounds, and so forth by creating a place on your property to recycle them. The best place for a compost pile is in the shade. Shade helps to keep the compost moist. Renew plant waste by making black composted soil in your yard. Be sure to turn your compost pile every few weeks. A lot of purchasable compost containers have a turning feature that flips the compost easily.

Compost can be used as mulch around tree trunks, be careful to avoid touching the bark of the tree itself with the mulch/compost. Mulching right up to the bark of the tree can develop disease and insect problems.

Use the compost in your flower beds and vegetable gardens – the rich nutrients from the compost provide tons of benefits.

Rethink your lawn layout – save yourself money

Do you have a large property where it is hard to keep up with grass growth? To much money spent on lawn care services – or gas mowing it yourself? Think about adding ground covers, trees, or shrubs to your property.

Ground Covers Instead of Turf Grass

Finding low maintenance ground covers is a way to add beauty to your lawn or garden while in return helping to save on lawn maintenance. Including fertilizer, water, and gas/lawn services. Ground covers are fairly inexpensive. Check your local garden center on which ground covers will work best for your area. Be sure to determine certain factors including shade & soil type.

Pesticides causing problems around the .. world?

I have been reading tons of information from the net lately relating to problems occurring from pesticides. There have been deaths, thousands of illnesses, and plant/tree/vegetation death. Canada has recently banned the use of certain pesticides as well.

Each year in the U.S, more than 110,000 pesticide poisoning are reported by poison control centers.

Combine those calls with the roughly 23,000 emergency room visits each year for the same reason – and you start to see a problem.

Pesticide applications have been linked to massive honey bee deaths
Researches in the United State are looking at what impact pesticides currently have on bee populations, trying to Resurrection the country’s apiary industry.


I have also read lately that there is concern pesticide applications may be causing tree death, and plant issues in the United States.

While pesticide applications are a highly demanded product – and the profit, well as consumers, you probably don’t want to know – we don’t apply them. We don’t want to apply them. If you do desire a pesticide application – we urge you, please find a professional. Do some research, make sure they have the proper certifications – and check which kind of pesticides they are spraying. Pesticides are dangerous, and extremely environmentally unfriendly.