Fairy Rings SOS

It’s been a long day at work, the deadline for that ridiculous project looms ever closer and your boss is on your case. Traffic to and from work was terrible with construction on every corner, and on the drive home there was a fender-bender in the middle of an intersection that delayed you for 45 minutes. But now… finally… you are home. You are relaxing out on your covered patio with your beverage of choice, admiring the landscaping that you recently had completed. You are in paradise. But wait, what’s this? A dark circle on the lawn visible from the deck… And growing around the edge of the circle are white mushrooms. Fairy Ring.

Originating from an old folk-tale, the term “Fairy Ring” refers to a naturally occurring circle of mushrooms, said to have been caused by fairies dancing the night away. More scientifically speaking, they are caused by soil-inhabiting fungi called basidiomycetes. These rings will stabilize in time as the fungus finds a food source underground. The size of these rings can range from a few inches to 200 feet or more in diameter and they grow outwardly at a rate of 6 inches to 2 feet annually.


While Fairy Ring in and around the Edmonton, Sherwood Park and Fort Saskatchewan area may seem like an unsightly but harmless blemish on the surface of your yard, it is actually quite dangerous to grass health. An established Fairy Ring will develop a thick fungal mat which then inhibits water from passing through it and reaching the roots of the grass. If enough time passes, the fungus will dry up the encircled soil and localized grass roots, and the grass will then proceed to wither and die. As well, the fungus can deplete soil nutrients and may also release a toxic by-product that can directly kill the grass and plantings within the border of the mushrooms.

Now, if it seems like all hope is gone and that you would be better-off igniting the entire surface of your lawn on fire, only to redo all landscaping and plantings from the topsoil up… read this first!!!


While Fairy Rings may be a difficult problem to get under control, there are a few steps that one can take to minimize and/or eliminate the problem altogether.

Sufficient Watering:

As mentioned earlier in the article, an established fairy ring will develop a thick fungal mat which will not allow water to pass through it. In time, this will dry the sod and grass roots leading to the death of the grass. To combat this: Make holes in the infected sod – within the mushroom ring – with a garden fork 1 to 2 feet deep and then thoroughly water the area for 4 to 6 weeks. Another option to increase water permeability within the sod is a process called core aeration. Core aeration is a type of aeration whereby a machine works to mechanically remove “cores” of soil (½” to ¾” in diameter) and thatch from a lawn. The introduction of these small holes in the surface of the lawn reduces soil compaction and increases water permeability, as each hole becomes a conduit through which: water, oxygen and nutrients can flow freely to the soil.


Treatment with Product

Controlling the water flow to the grass roots will help aesthetically, but may not completely get you out of the woods. The next step would be to treat the fungus with a product designed to do so. There are many available products on the market designed to do just that, these products may control: fungi, algae, bacteria, and viruses. A biodegradable example of one of those products is Physan20, which can be used to treat the lawn, as well as disinfect gardening tools and work areas.

Last Resort

If Fairy Rings are established and the problem severe, a more heavily hands-on approach may need to be taken. This approach involves removing the sod and repeatedly cultivating the affected area for several weeks. This will be followed up by re-sodding and re-seeding the area.

At the end of the day, fairy rings can be quite a nuisance to keep under control. To avoid the headache and frustration, as well as unnecessary sweat and sore muscles, preventative lawn care is always advised. Hope for the best but plan for the worst! And in the unlikely event that your yard needs redesigning after you have used your flamethrower on it, remember to give Little Creek Landscaping a call, where we make outdoor living dreams come to life!


*Little Creek Landscaping and its affiliates do not actually advise the use of fire as an effective means of lawn care. *

Keep brining your outdoor living dreams to life!