s: I usually cut mushrooms that grow in my garden. The mushroom in the photo is in my husband’s backyard where an apple tree once grew. The mushrooms are rock hard and I’m afraid of damaging the mower blades. My father-in-law used a shovel to scrape it out, but it has grown back over the past couple of years. Do you have any ideas on how to get rid of it forever? -Dave B.

a: Such a fungus is actually useful, as it helps to decompose the old underground parts of the apple tree. The visible mushroom is the fruiting body of this fungus and most of the mushroom organism is underground with a root-like network of mycelium.

Removing the visible part of the mushroom and disposing of it is a good method. The fungus will continue to appear several times during the growing season until the underground part of the apple tree has rotted.

These fungi do a great job of breaking down dead wood and other organic matter into compost and releasing the nutrients back into the soil. Even if getting rid of them is desirable, there is no practical way to prevent these fungi from growing.

Fungicides are not effective in growing mushrooms, and if a compound such as chlorine bleach is used, it will kill surrounding grass and affect the soil.

The faster the underground stem and roots rot, the faster the fungus will finish its work and disappear. Keeping the stain moist will help. Aerating the area around the mushroom by piercing it with a shovel or fork will speed up the decomposition process.

s: We need to replant many areas of our garden that have become too thin over the past few years. What is the deadline for seeding and getting the grass to grow after this fall? – Jim L.

a: If grass seed is planted by September 15, it will have enough time to germinate and establish before winter. However, a key element to success is keeping the seed bed uniformly moist throughout the germination period until the grass grows clearly.

To help conserve soil moisture, a light layer of mulch can be used, such as straw, grass clippings that have not been treated with herbicides, or seed mulch available at garden centers. If burlap is used, it must be removed before growth causes blades of grass to become entangled in the burlap, causing damage when the burlap is removed.

s: If we use Brain to kill some weeds, will it kill or affect my perennials that are already growing? If we use Preen, can we still plant a few more perennials this fall? -Bev C.

a: For successful weed control, it is important to understand how Preen and other herbicides sold at garden centers work. Pre-emergent herbicides kill weed seeds when they germinate, but have no effect on weeds or other plants that are already growing.

Preen and similar products act as weed killers, killing weed seeds in the soil as they germinate. Weeds returning from an established root system, such as dandelions, quack grass, and thistle, will not be killed or prevented by pre-emergent products.

Because of the way it works, Preen will not harm your perennials that are already growing. Nor will it harm or kill the weeds you want to remove if they are already growing.

Pre-emergent granular herbicides are generally applied to flower beds in the spring, carefully following all label instructions. It will not control weed plants or their roots that have already established themselves, but it can significantly reduce the work of weeding by removing or reducing weeds that emerge from the weed seed bank found in most soil types.

If you have a gardening or lawn care question, email Don Kinzler, NDSU Extension-Cass County, at


. Broad appeal questions may be posted, so please include your name, city, and state for appropriate advice.

Don Kinzler

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is a horticulturist at North Dakota State University Cass County Extension. Readers can contact him at donald.kinzler@ndsu.edu.

    (tags for translation)Don Kinzler

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