Slime can be a fun and entertaining icky substance when it's kept in preschool classes, kid's shows, and ghost movies. However, one place no one wants anything resembling "slime" is in their well-manicured yard. However, the aptly named slime mold is just that – a slimy or foamy-looking colorful blob found in landscapes.
Knowing what this substance is and how and where it lives are essential bits of information to keep it at bay. So if your lawn looks like Fido has vomited on it, read on to learn what you're going to need to know about slime mold on grass.
What exctly is slime mold?
Most people know slime mold as brightly colored, fungus-like blobs that sit atop mulch, bark, logs, or grass. However, in truth, slime mold is not actually a fungus at all. This icky organism is more closely related to amoeba than fungus. Slime mold is most often seen in vivid yellows or reds, which fade to muted brown or black as they dry out over time.
There are hundreds of different types of slime mold, all of which are unpleasant and – just plain gross! One of the most common and classic examples of slime mold is the vibrantly yellow "dog vomit slime mold" or Fuligo septica. (Yes, you read that correctly!) This particular slime mold looks very much like dog throw up or like someone dropped a plate of scrambled eggs in your yard.
Slime mold thrives in wet, warm environments and feeds on bacteria and decaying organic matter. These colorful blobs tend to pop up in lawns during the warmer temperatures of spring and summer after a good rain. Slime mold reproduces using spores, and these spores can easily make their way to your yard by hitching a ride on some mulch or by traveling with the wind. Once they find a comfortable environment that provides them with moisture, warmth, and a food supply, they’ll bloom.
How does slime mold affect grass?
Upon spotting an ugly blotch of slime mold on your grass, it’s natural to be concerned that this organism might be harming your yard. However, you can feel free to relax! Although quite unsightly, slime mold has little effect on the overall health of your lawn.
Anything that shades or sits on your lawn for an extended period cuts off your grass's supply of sunlight, which can lead to grass blades in that spot turning brown or yellow for a time. This is about the most damage slime mold can inflict, not too bad! It's also important to note that slime mold does not harm people or animals.
In fact, rather than causing harm, it is more likely that slime mold may actually provide a tiny bit of benefit to your grass. This icky organism breaks down dead organic matter and feeds on bacteria that might otherwise harm your grass or landscaping.
How to get rid of slime mold.
Even though slime mold causes no harm, no one could be blamed for wanting that nasty-looking gunk off their grass. The great news is that because slime mold is not considered a cause for concern in a yard, it will not be necessary for you to rush to the store for products.
To remove the foamy blob, simply scoop it off the grass with a shovel and toss it in the trash. If that’s not an option, use your hose to apply some water pressure and blast the slime mold into the ground. Both of these options will remove the appearance of slime mold, but be aware that the spores will still be present.
To eradicate slime mold and prevent its return, you'll need to make your lawn less hospitable to spore growth. The three main elements that attract slime mold are moisture, warmth, and a food supply. Right off the bat, there's obviously nothing that can be done about the temperature in your yard. That leaves controlling the moisture level and availability of their food in your yard as a means of deterring slime mold.
It should go without saying (but we'll say it anyway) that your lawn needs ample water to thrive. Dehydrating your grass is NOT worth getting rid of slime mold. However, the issue could be that you are overwatering your yard or that your soil may not have sufficient drainage. Check your lawn for other signs of too much water (like mushroom growth) then adjust your water routine accordingly. If you think poor soil drainage may be your issue, consider hiring a professional lawn care company to aerate your lawn.
Another great benefit of regular lawn aeration service, is that core aeration is an excellent way to break down thatch. Thatch is composed of the decaying organic matter that slime mold loves to feed on. Keeping thatch under control means keeping slime mold food supply low.
For the sake of your wallet and your lawn’s health, remember that any chemicals will be ineffective and could cause more harm than good. Thankfully, for the most part, keeping slime mold at bay requires the same regular maintenance that your lawn needs to thrive anyway. Keep the yard well maintained with proper watering, regular mowing, and biannual aeration, and that nasty slime mold won’t stand a chance!