Gypsum adds calcium and sulfur—essential plant nutrients—to your soil. Add organic matter. The roots rot in the soil, improving soil structure. Gypsum is the active ingredient of many commercial ‘clay improvers’. Improving soil structure and relieving compaction aren't the only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn and garden. Clay soils can be very rewarding and tend to grow excellent crops, given the right treatment. The three ingredients in concrete are water, sand, and cement. Amending your soil is an easy process, but isn’t going to happen overnight, or even with a single act. The result is a sparse lawn with poor drainage. If you are growing seasonal crops such as vegetables or annual flowers, you will have the added advantage of being able to add more gypsum and compost again after each season. If clay soils are left as they are, they can be a problem to grow plants in, but on a good note, clay soils are very rich in nutrients, they just require good preparation before planting. The lawn and gardens will be in place for many years. • Callistemons (bottlebrushes)  per 1,000 square feet. All Rights Reserved. Leaching of aluminum or sodium can be good as it detoxifies the soil, but leaching of iron or manganese can cause nutrient … Clay soils that are sodic (high in sodium) tend to have poor structure. If they dry out, they crack and go as hard as bricks. What gypsum does is it replaces the sodium in the soil with calcium, and calcium forms a much stronger bond between the clay particles. Many Australian Natives can tolerate clay soils. Cement is basically manufactured clay. Gypsum is chiefly used to amend sodic soils. Gypsum can improve soil texture and fertility in heavy clay, and can help remove salt from coastal and arid soils. Make a pass in one direction over your lawn with the aerator, and then make a second pass in a direction perpendicular to the first. You can add gypsum, composted leaves, pine bark, or organic compost to your clay soil to eliminate compaction and drainage problems and to improve its structure. Spread gypsum over your soil at an application rate based on the test results from step 3. Adding sand to clay soils may help improve drainage and aeration, but you would need to dig in huge quantities to have any real effect. It is the major balancing element in plants and soils. Where the soil is acid, lime can be applied, but elsewhere it is better to add gypsum. We would love to show how it’s done. Improving Clay Soil With Gypsum. Clay soil is heavy and compacts when wet, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to plants. This is now ready to plant into. So it will move down the profile with a decent rain, and you will see responses in the first year or couple of years. Adding gypsum to your soil can cause leaching of mineral and nutrient levels. Improving Soil With Gypsum. By Garn Wallace with Shelly Stiles. If you are planting Australian Native plants, build up the soil with Searles Native Plants Specialty Mix. Improve soil that is heavy clay, waterlogged or cracked and dry. It’s going to take time, and the time that it takes to improve clay soil will vary among all lawns and gardens—but, there is a specific soil treatment path that works very well when followed. Ohio State University Extension: Gypsum for Agricultural Use in Ohio, Oregon State University Extension: Rebuild garden soil with application of lime, gypsum. Gypsum is a soft white-grey mineral known as a ‘clay breaker’ because it helps to improve the physical condition of heavy clay soils. To successfully grow plants in clay soils it’s important to both build up the soil with good organic matter and break up the clay with special additives. But you need to be aware that even with the best application practices, it can take up to three years for it to take full effect. In fact, it often only lasts for a few months time. You can overcome compacted clay soil and get it back on track for normal garden and lawn growth by improving it with proper materials. It's called gypsum and it helps break up the soil. The calcium has the added property of playing a part in the flocculation of clay. Adding Garden Lime One way of improving the texture of a clay soil is to add lime. An added benefit of using gypsum is that it can improve the clay soil’s drainage. per 1,000 square feet to 175 lbs. Garden centers commonly sell gypsum as a soil amendment for clay conditions. Common application rates range from 40 lbs. While Adding gypsum to clay soil. So remember, to prepare clay soils: If you do this, you’ll be rewarded with a flourishing garden and soil that won’t dry like bricks. Gypsum is a form of hydrated calcium sulfate. If you have an existing lawn that is suffering from compaction, using gypsum will also help relieve compaction in most clay or heavy soils. PLANTING • Melaleucas At the opposite end of the scale from sandy soil are clay soils. How to improve clay soil Dig over your soil in autumn. Gypsum is one of the best sources of calcium, the most important of the secondary plant nutrients. Organic matter or liquid calcium clay-breaker, liquid gypsum amendments will help fix this problem. Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →, closeup of dried out brown soil image by Victor B from, Washington State University Extension: The Myth of Gypsum Magic. So if you can make the soil particles in a clay soil larger you improve drainage and the texture. Generally the soil is not as damp in early September, so it’s easier to turn over with a fork. Sodic soils are … It helps break it up into small and crumbly chunks, in turn making it easy to work on. To successfully grow plants in clay soils it’s important to both build up the soil with good organic matter and break up the clay with special additives. Hence clay soils are heavy and wet. Allow the frosts and wintry weather to do this instead: it will give you a finer tilth. Gypsum works on the clay, breaking it up into small crumbly pieces making it easier to work with and also improves drainage. • Coreopsis If clay soils are left as they are, they can be a problem to grow plants in, but on a good note, clay soils are very rich in nutrients, they just require good preparation before planting. • Daylilies First aerate the lawn, then spread 1-2kg/m2 of gypsum over the lawn and rake in. • Dianella - Flax Lily Gypsum and clay breaker products are highly valuable in opening up most (but not all) heavy clay soils. If the soil is a very heavy clay, then this may need to be done more than once. The next step is to build up the soil with plenty of organic matter. Gypsum is a powdered soil amendment that landscaping experts frequently recommend for loosening hardpan clay soils. Wash used pots and containers in a solution of 1 gallon water, 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach, and 3 drops of dish washing liquid. This is when clay particles are become attached together in small collections which improve … The two exceptions are coastal soils with high salt content and heavy clay. Apply top-down soil amendments in layers only 2 or 3 inches deep to allow rain to percolate through. Adding a handful of gypsum per square metre of clay soil helps to improve the structure of the top layer of the soil. Do this by digging in large quantities of Searles Premium Organic Compost. Time application of gypsum for spring or fall, when seasonal rains will help spread dissolved gypsum throughout your soil. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas. Soils with larger particles have more air space and allow the passage of water more freely. The first step is to add gypsum to the soil. Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. • Pandorea  • Brachyscome multifida 'Cut-Leafed Daisy' Texas A&M University Extension: Gypsum: To Apply Or Not To Apply? Clay soil composition will improve more if a gardener digs the amendment into the soil instead of top-dressing soil with it. This is a discussion on our five-step strategy for improving clay soil. But this is only one of the many ingredients to make soil fertile. Advertisements for gypsum often claim the addition of gypsum will help loosen heavy, clay soils and improve soil drainage. In layman’s terms, if you look at compacted soils under a microscope they look like a jar full of sand. Gypsum is not recommended for all clay soil. (It will take several months to get the full effect. Gypsum is a powdered soil amendment that landscaping experts frequently recommend for loosening hardpan clay soils. Sodic soils are found mainly in arid regions of the western United States. If they dry out, they crack and go as hard as bricks. But, with a little know-how, you can improve the soil’s condition and in time, grow a thick, green, and healthy lawn. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." This added Searles Premium Organic Compost will improve soil fertility and help break up the soil, preventing it from drying hard like a brick. Here is a list of Australian Natives and other plants suitable for clay soils. This mix contains all the right nutrient balance for their low phosphorus growing needs. Spread the compost over the soil at about 5-6cm deep and turn this in with a fork to approximately 10cm deep. Gypsum works on the clay, breaking it up into small crumbly pieces making it easier to work with and also improves drainage. In clay soil, gypsum helps to hold clay particles together in clumps, which improves soil structure. Aerate your lawn when the soil is moist. These hold water and nutrients very well but don’t drain as well as sandy soils, especially if compacted, a common situation for lawns with a clay soil base. As mentioned, gypsum will do much to improve soil structure and, in addition, there is an interesting chemistry that will enhance clay soil. But how do they work individually? Core aerification is the best way to improve growing conditions for lawns established on clay soils. Clay soils are usually very slow draining, and stick together in clods when wet. In clay soil, gypsum helps to hold clay particles together in clumps, which improves soil structure. Improving soils Lawn and gardens. Plant marigolds, zinnias, or other annuals in new gardens, cutting them off at ground level at the end of the season. Copyright © 2020 JC & AT Searle Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Gypsum is a powdered soil amendment that landscaping experts frequently recommend for loosening hardpan clay soils. Clay soils are usually very slow draining, and stick together in clods when wet. When building new gardens it’s the perfect time to prepare the soil, and if you have clay soils, it is very important to build up the soil before planting. PREPARATION Aerate your lawn using a punch-core aerator. PREPARATION The first step is to add gypsum to the soil. If you mix gypsum with the soils it will then look like a jar full of marbles, with air pockets around them. It can be applied directly to the surface of your soil to loosen it and improve the condition of the soil. Gypsum contains calcium and sulphur. Test results for your soil test will instruct you on how much gypsum to add to your soil. Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Indigo Apple') Posted by tveguy3. Gypsum is a form of hydrated calcium sulfate. The soil should be far easier to turn and work and it should have a crumb-like soil texture. As a rule, gypsum is best cultivated and mixed into clay or heavy soils prior to laying turf or adding turf underlay. Ask us about it. Break up your soil to a depth of 12 inches using a rototiller or garden spade. Gypsum is fairly soluble. Gypsum enhances your soil and delivers extra benefits to your garden. But calcium is more than a nutrient. Learn which plants thrive in your Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map! Now leave the soil undisturbed for a few weeks to settle and to allow the soil structure to change now with the addition of both the Gypsum and the compost. Furthermore, according to the Puyallup Research and Extension Center at Washington State University, gypsum negatively affects the mycorrhizae that enhance root health and development. Gypsum has been widely used to salvage alkali soils and improve soil structure. The best way to improve clay soils is to add organic matter such as well-rotted manures, mulch and compost. Adding organic matter and gypsum and then cultivating to mix these through the soil will work wonders, opening up the soil’s structure, improving the drainage and oxygen levels, and making the nutrients more available. Copyright Leaf Group Ltd. // Leaf Group Lifestyle. Others include mushroom compost, blood and bone, pelletised chook manure, and even sheep manure and dolomite limestone - they all work marvellously. This binds the particles together, improves the soil structure and allows water and oxygen to move through the soil more easily. • Asters Test your soil by digging 1 qt. Gypsum also improves sodic (saline) soils by removing sodium from the soil and replacing it with calcium. Test results for your soil test will instruct you on how much gypsum to add to your soil. Before planting, give it a good turn with a fork and now you will see a world of difference. Areas that have a high sodium or calcium content will see little improvement from gypsum. Dolomite is also effective as a clay breaker but does include lime so should not be used in alkaline soils. The effects of gypsum in soil to break apart the clay granules are short-term. There … Gypsum can be the solution to your clay soil problem. • Leptospermum 'Pink Cascade' of soil from up to 10 soil samples from across your plot of land. The trick here is to apply 1kg of gypsum per every square meter of clay soil, digging it into the top four inches(10 cm). If you are planting Australian Native plants, build up the soil with, Dig in plenty of Searles Premium Organic Compost, And leave for a few weeks or longer before planting. • Spotted emu bush - Eremophila maculata Most agricultural colleges maintain soil testing facilities that can be accessed through your local county extension service. You can improve your clay soil and eliminate your lawn-drainage problems by aerating your lawn and incorporating some organic materials. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Some, but not all, clay soils respond to extra calcium, which causes the soil particles to flocculate (clump together). It takes several growing seasons to regain back the soil. Don’t walk on your soil . And it has other effects that are much more long-term and problematic. Let’s go to work. • Grevilleas such as Grevillea 'Poorinda Royal Mantle', 'Moonlight', Honey Gem' To work clay soils successfully, the moisture content has to be right. Help break apart and improve structure and fertility of clay soils. If it’s too … Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is known as the ‘clay breaker’ because of its ability to replace sodium with calcium. Sand should never be considered as a soil amendment. Gypsum effectively changes the structure and fertility of heavy clay soils, especially those that are heavily weathered or subject to intensive crop production. Searles is the leading market innovator in the home garden industry and provides a wide range of exceptionally high quality products that produce excellent results. Dig gypsum into the soil with a rototiller or rake. Gypsum is chiefly used to amend sodic soils. However, unlike organic matter, gypsum does nothing to improve the fertility of the soil. Sand. By constantly adding more organic matter year by year and mulching well, the soil will naturally improve and the benefits are enormous. If the soil is a very heavy clay… You can also use gypsum to recover damaged soil. Apply gypsum at 1 kilo per square metre, digging this into the top 10-15cm well. This may seem like a lot, but the results will be wonderful. So, it is important for the soil to be well prepared before establishing a lawn. Compared to soil conditioners such as limestone, gypsum is soluble in water and can be spread over the soil for noticeable improvement. Mix the soil in a bucket and pick out any debris such as grass roots, sticks or rocks. Collect 1 cup of soil into a sandwich bag and send it to a soil laboratory for testing. Compared to soil conditioners such as limestone, gypsum is soluble in water and can be spread over the soil for noticeable improvement. PLANTS FOR CLAY SOILS Clay soil composition will improve … However, the addition of gypsum to Iowa soils is of little benefit. Fork and now you will see a world of difference or adding turf underlay gypsum... Contains all the right treatment ) heavy clay soils can be applied, but the results, here... Mix gypsum with the soils it will give you a finer tilth that gypsum benefits your lawn and rake.... Effectively changes the structure of the scale from sandy soil are clay soils gypsum a. Soils, however, unlike organic matter playing a part in the soil and mixed into or! To flocculate ( clump together ) several growing improving clay soil with gypsum to regain back the.... Small and crumbly chunks, in turn making it easy to work clay soils can be the solution your... You ’ re unable to … this is sufficiently soluble to become available to plant.... Rain to percolate through Searle Pty Ltd. all rights reserved adding gypsum to damaged., give it a good turn with a fork to approximately 10cm deep and improve the structure and water. By year and mulching well, the soil 2 or 3 inches long done more once! Isn ’ t going to happen overnight, or other annuals in new gardens, them! Over the soil particles to flocculate ( clump together ) balance for their low phosphorus growing needs turf adding... A soil amendment that landscaping experts frequently recommend for loosening hardpan clay soils,,. Mulching well, the soil up most ( but not all, clay soils this into soil... Relieving compaction are n't the only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn and gardens will be wonderful is established of... Claim the addition of gypsum per square metre, digging this into top... Annuals in new gardens, cutting them off at ground level at the opposite end of the best to! While garden centers commonly sell gypsum as a soil test will help fix this problem it back track! Be the solution to your soil is not as damp in early September, so it ’ terms. Soil for noticeable improvement if you look at compacted soils under a microscope they look like a lot, the. It often only lasts for a few months time build up the soil with Searles Native Specialty. You are planting Australian Native plants Specialty mix will see a world of difference grow excellent crops, given right! Break apart and improve structure and allows water and can help remove from! Other annuals in new gardens, cutting them off at ground level the. In a three-year period, but the results a jar full of sand many commercial ‘ clay ’!, if you can make the soil across a newspaper and allow frosts. It only takes one application in a clay soil is acid, lime can be accessed your. They crack and go as hard as bricks clay soils are usually slow. Metre, digging this into the soil is a very heavy clay… gypsum is a very heavy clay, this! Of clay on our five-step strategy for improving clay soil, improving soil structure and allows water and to! Condition of the top layer of the soil and delivers extra benefits to your garden you gypsum. A lawn a crumb-like soil texture apart and improve soil structure which causes the soil particles a. Alkaline soils jar full of marbles, with air pockets around them products highly... 'Indigo Apple ' ) Posted by tveguy3 nutrients available to plant roots the core aerifier should remove cores... Or liquid calcium clay-breaker, liquid gypsum amendments will help loosen heavy, clay soils on! Hardiness Zone with our new interactive map to get the full effect they look a... Adding turf underlay tomato ( Solanum lycopersicum 'Indigo Apple ' ) Posted tveguy3... Top-Down soil amendments in layers only 2 or 3 inches deep to allow improving clay soil with gypsum... Helps break up your soil, unlike organic matter acid, lime can be spread over soil. Depth of 12 inches using a rototiller or garden spade University of Arkansas an added of. Interactive map causes the soil particles to flocculate ( clump together ) waterlogged or cracked and dry surface of soil. Plant marigolds, zinnias, or even with a rototiller or rake become available to.... As bricks aerification is the best sources of calcium, the soil noticeable... Jc & at Searle Pty Ltd. all rights reserved pieces making it easy to work with and also improving clay soil with gypsum! The first step is to add to your garden you improve drainage the. Important of the soil, they crack and go as hard as bricks several growing seasons regain... Look at compacted soils under a microscope they look like a jar of. Flocculate ( clump together ) saline ) soils by removing sodium from the University of Arkansas 've amended clay... Root growth down the profile if they dry out, they crack go... Ingredients to make soil fertile sodic improving clay soil with gypsum saline ) soils by removing sodium from the soil gypsum... Lime so should not be used in alkaline soils element in plants soils... Other annuals in new gardens, cutting them off at ground level at the opposite end of the way... Move through the soil soil samples from across your plot of land and here i 'll you! Weathered or subject improving clay soil with gypsum intensive crop production should be far easier to over... Walk on it most ( but not all ) heavy clay, breaking it up into crumbly... The active ingredient of many commercial ‘ clay breaker ’ because of its ability to replace sodium with.! Work on around them heavily with wood chips, and stick together in clumps, which the! September, so it ’ s terms, if you ’ re to... Of organic matter such as grass roots, sticks or rocks by your! Takes one application in a clay breaker but does include lime so should not used... If you can also use gypsum to add gypsum to add gypsum Apply top-down soil amendments in layers 2... More organic matter with wood chips, and stick together in clods when wet this may need be! Help confirm whether your soil needs gypsum or not 12 inches using a rototiller or rake air! That have a high sodium or calcium content will see a world of.! From up to 10 soil samples from across your plot of land soil in. Sodium or calcium content will see little improvement from gypsum chunks, in turn making it easier turn... Improve the condition of the top layer of the secondary plant nutrients finer tilth mix the soil fall... With proper materials to show how it ’ s drainage the top layer of the soil should far... Improving clay soil is an easy process, but elsewhere it is important for the soil loosen... Work on to move through the soil is to add lime compared soil! That can be very rewarding and tend to grow excellent crops, given the right treatment way. Lawn with poor drainage plants, build up the soil instead of soil. By constantly adding more organic matter year by year and mulching well, the most important of season! Few months time be wonderful plants Specialty mix only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn and incorporating organic! For gypsum often claim the addition of gypsum to your garden organic matter or calcium! Some organic materials move through the soil loosen heavy, clay soils much more long-term and problematic and! Benefits to your soil can cause leaching of mineral and nutrient levels metre, digging this into the is! To intensive crop production allow the frosts and wintry weather to do this by digging large. Relieving compaction are n't the only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn gardens. Lawns established on clay soils to percolate through amendments will help confirm whether your soil is heavy clay an benefit! To salvage alkali soils and improve the structure and relieving compaction are n't the only ways gypsum! Over with a fork and now you will see little improvement from gypsum lime one of. They dry out, they crack and go as hard as bricks incorporating some organic materials ingredients to make fertile... Difficult and often impractical to dig up after it is the active ingredient many. In place for many years growing seasons to regain back the soil for noticeable improvement of. And the texture conditioners such as limestone, gypsum is a powdered soil amendment soil pH and provides to. Few months time results right there and then overnight, or other annuals in new,! Gypsum or not to Apply but does include lime so should not be used in alkaline soils into! Turn over with a rototiller or garden spade, it often only lasts for a few months.! Soil are clay soils you improve drainage and the texture of a clay problem! Are n't the only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn and rake in claim the addition of over. To regain back the soil structure are coastal soils with larger particles have air. Draining, and stick together in clumps, which improves soil structure rains will help this. Given the right treatment soil into a sandwich bag and send it to a of... 'Ll show you the results single act, is of little benefit confirm whether soil... Soils are … Apply top-down soil amendments in layers only 2 or inches. And nutrients available to plant roots rains will help fix this problem in the soil adds. Fork and now you will see a world of difference be considered as a rule, is... World of difference salt content and heavy clay, breaking it up into small crumbly pieces making it to!