August 4, 2022

Looking at your beautifully mulched and maintained beds and finding a patch of something unattractive can be jarring. While mushrooms can have their own aesthetic, other mold patches can look much more upsetting. Yellow blobs, stinky growths that look like fingers coming up from the ground, and patches that look like some critter threw up in your landscaping are likely not the aesthetic you are going for. How did this happen and what can you do about it?

Yellow slime mold Fuligo septica growing in dark mulch beside green tomato cages.

Why am I Seeing Mold in My Mulch?

Seeing mold in mulch is very normal. Mold and fungal growths are there to naturally decay the organic material in the mulch and landscaping. Mulch is not only cosmetic, it used to keep moisture in the ground for healthier growth, so some fungal growth is to be expected. In some cases, mold is an indicator that your irrigation needs to be adjusted, but some mold patches are a natural part of the growth cycle. Fungi grow just about everywhere and, while we don’t usually see them, overly wet mulch is an excellent home and food source for them.

Is Mold Harmful to My Plants or My Family?

There are many myths about finding mold and fungi in your gardens. Mulch mold or fungi will not kill or harm your plants. These fungi feed on rotting wood and will focus entirely on the mulch, not the plant life. As fungi decompose your mulch, they convert it to nutrients that go back into the soil, which will actually benefit your plants. Generally, mold is not dangerous to kids or pets either. While we all know that eating the wrong kind of mushroom can be dangerous, the growths you will see in your mulch are not dangerous – assuming you aren’t tempted to eat your mulch.

How Do I Deal with Mold?

In most cases you can simply take a shovel, remove the mold or fungi, and then lightly mix the patch with the rest of the mulch so it looks better. While you do this, you may want to wear a mask or face covering, as well as gloves, as moving the mold can disturb the decomposition process and spores may be released. A lot of these growths can simply be ignored, as they are not harmful to plants and will dry up and disappear, but it is very understandable to want to cover the patches with dry mulch.

What About Fungicides?

When you read about treating fungi, which will include mold, mildew, mushrooms, and yeast, you may be tempted to use a fungicide. However, these treatments are harsh and can cause damage both to your landscaping and the environment. If you do decide to treat with chemicals, make sure you have read all labels very carefully to ensure that you are not doing more harm than good.

It can be very unsettling to look at your flower beds and see fungal growth, but it’s important to remember that mold in mulch is natural, is not harmful, and can be easily dealt with. If you are concerned, speaking with your landscaping consultant about how to remedy the problem is a good way to ensure that your beds will be both beautiful and healthy all season long. To learn more about our landscaping maintenance services, contact Twin Oaks Landscape today!