It can be applied directly to the surface of your soil to loosen it and improve the condition of the soil. It is a Good Source of Sulfur and Calcium. Clay soil offers many benefits, but it can need a hand to reach its potential. Managed well, clay soil typically requires less irrigation and less fertilizer, and leads to healthier plants all around. We live in Southern California in an area where the soil is mostly thick, grey clay, and there are ten magnolia trees on our street that have been thriving. If the soil is a very heavy clay, then this … To learn how to make your soil more acidic, keep reading! Another occasion when gypsum is often introduced in a … Gypsum works on the clay, breaking it up into small crumbly pieces making it easier to work with and also improves drainage. References Of course, that's why I gave an example on clay as well. It will take a sustained approach of applying gypsum over a few years before you will see any noticeable effect. The individual particles that make up your clay are extremely small compared to other soil types such as sand, silt or loam.1 Thanks to the surface area of all those small particles, clay soil has a greater capacity to hold water and nutrients your lawn and garden needs. If you leave straight, flat walls, the roots may circle around in the hole. Sodic soils are found mainly in arid regions of the western United States. For example, North Carolina State University (NCSU) advises gypsum doesn't work on the type of clay soil found in North Carolina. Many clay soils do benefit from the addition of Gypsum. Apply gypsum at 1 kilo per square metre, digging this into the top 10-15cm well. {"smallUrl":"https:\/\/www.wikihow.com\/images\/thumb\/a\/a8\/Amend-Clay-Soil-Step-1-Version-2.jpg\/v4-460px-Amend-Clay-Soil-Step-1-Version-2.jpg","bigUrl":"\/images\/thumb\/a\/a8\/Amend-Clay-Soil-Step-1-Version-2.jpg\/aid1053199-v4-728px-Amend-Clay-Soil-Step-1-Version-2.jpg","smallWidth":460,"smallHeight":345,"bigWidth":"728","bigHeight":"546","licensing":"

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\n<\/p><\/div>"}. If you have topsoil with clay underneath, do not till. Flocculation, or aggregation, is needed to give favorable soil structure for … Very helpful. This article has been viewed 251,925 times. Thank you for keeping it simple. A hand spreader will be more effective for applying gypsum to an established flower or garden area. Improving soil structure and relieving compaction aren't the only ways that gypsum benefits your lawn and garden. ", "I liked the that the steps were so readily quantified and specific. Once soil is tightly packed, water and air penetration is reduced and root growth suffers. A mineral that does not affect soil pH. When laying your materials, aim for an equal mix of coarse sand and coarse organic material for optimum drainage and nutrients. Where the soil is acid, lime can be applied, but elsewhere it is better to add gypsum. Thank you. When planting in clay soil, dig a hole and scar the sides to create uneven surfaces. This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. After you've amended the soil, continue to monitor the pH balance to ensure that the proper levels continue to be met, or else continue to acidify the soil as needed. Additionally, they will help lower the pH of the soil, acidifying it. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. It is a good idea to do this in both the fall and spring, before you seed and fertilize, so that the seed and fertilizer gets down to the bottom. Apply gypsum at 1 kilo per square metre, digging this into the top 10-15cm well. It's hard, clay is something that's really difficult to grow in, especially sweet potatoes. During the winter months, as outdoor gardens and flower beds sit dormant, many gardeners truly miss tending to and nurturing their plants. Adding materials such as organic compost, pine bark, composted leaves and gypsum to heavy clay can improve its structure and help eliminate drainage and compaction problems. According to Ed Hume Seeds, gypsum will recondition your clay soil. After a year of piling mulch and organic matter on top of it, it loosened up and was much better for planting. This soil is common to many parts of the world, limiting what homeowners, gardeners, and farmers can grow. For example, choosing plants that like very dry or excessively acidic soil can be an uphill battle. Add calcium. Avoid adding sand or peat moss to clay; they can make those problems worse.1. How do I amend clay soil if I don't have money? Despite the "clay-buster" claim on product bags, gypsum does not improve the structure of clayey soils in Maryland. How to Add Gypsum to Soil. This article has been viewed 251,925 times. A soil test takes the guesswork out of your starting point, so well-intentioned soil work doesn't backfire and make things worse. Adding too much lime to soil can damage it as much as having high acid levels. Because you're going to be spreading this mix over a large area, you will need bulk quantities: Instead of thinking in terms of square feet, think in terms of cubic yards--one cubic yard of material will provide a three-inch layer on 100 square feet. I recommend doing a simple test to see if your soil needs Gypsum or not. Some do not. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. However, you can amend or alter the soil to produce a richer soil more suitable for planting. To grow sweet potatoes you need a basic light soil. Gypsum is non-toxic and it will not harm vegetation. Builder's sand and gypsum allow for better water drainage and increased air pockets, as they force the particles in the clay apart. Gypsum has been found to be particularly effective in areas where the soil has a high salt concentration. Sandy soils are much different than clay soils. Dealing with Sandy Soils. 1. I ordered fine sand to add to the clay and after, "I need to lawn my garden, so this article has helped a lot. To correct for this, additives can be put into the clay soil to balance acidity and remove salts. Gypsum can be spread over plants, as it is not harmful to... 3. Backfill with the soil you dug out of the hole instead, and fertilize a wider area later on to encourage the plant's roots to spread out. According to the University of California Vegetable Research and Information Center, gardeners can add a pound of gypsum for every 5 square feet of garden space to improve clay soil. ", that would have been. Gypsum can be the solution to your clay soil problem. Soil compaction can negatively affect percolation, tilth, root growth, moisture retention and soil composition. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is known as the ‘clay breaker’ because of its ability to replace sodium with calcium. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. To amend clay soil, add builder's sand and gypsum to create more air pockets and increase the soil's drainage. Clay soil can provide an excellent foundation for healthy plant growth, Compacted clay inhibits healthy growth for grass and other plants, Soil amendments such as organic matter and gypsum improve heavy clay and relieve compaction, Gypsum enhances your soil and delivers extra benefits to your garden, Pennington Fast Acting Gypsum starts working immediately, lime adds calcium and makes soil less acidic, North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook: Soils and Plant Nutrients, How to Grow Flowers, Herbs and Vegetables Indoors, How to Identify, Fight and Prevent Root Rot. The calcium is quickly available making it a good choice for mixing into soil to prevent blossom-end rot in vegetable crops. It’s this that makes Gypsum so good for clay soil. Gypsum is chiefly used to amend sodic soils. While lime adds calcium and makes soil less acidic, gypsum adds calcium without affecting your soil pH. Soft water is achieved by removing calcium and magnesium from the water. Instead, NCSU … Pennington is here to help you overcome lawn and garden challenges and grow the best lawn and garden possible, in heavy clay and every other soil type. Your test results and recommendations can include ways to improve your clay soil, along with helpful information about your soil's organic matter, pH and nutrients. Overcoming the Difficulties of Planting in Clay Soil Bring in a new layer of topsoil if your plants are … Gypsum will not alter pH levels. With flamboyant, whorled flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds, hibiscus (H. rosa-sinensis) lights up the summer garden like few other flowering shrubs do. It won't affect the pH level, but can improve the soil texture. Miserable stuff, though mineral rich. The scale goes from 0 to 14, with 0 being very acidic, 7 being neutral, and 14 being very basic. Thank you. Clay soil is high in minerals that plants need for growth, but it can also be high in acidity or contain more salts than plants prefer. Spread the gypsum evenly over the surface to be covered. All content copyright © 2019 Pennington Seed, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Had no idea about type of soil needed or how to test pH, how to alter the, "I have learned what is needed to fix the clay soil problem that I have in my yard. Gypsum effectively changes the structure and fertility of heavy clay soils, especially those that are heavily weathered or subject to intensive crop production. To amend clay soil, add builder's sand and gypsum to create more air pockets and increase the soil's drainage. If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. Gypsum. We grow a garden every year and we tried to get the ground right. You can also add organic matter, like compost or manure, to increase the nutrients in the soil. I have grass planted in heavy clay soil. What can I add for drainage if my yard is all clay and I need to plant grass? One of the most popular organic additives is gypsum, a light powder similar to lime. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. Healthy, well-maintained clay soil translates to less work for you and less stress on your lawn and garden. By adding elemental sulfur or iron sulfate, By adding cottonseed meal, sphagnum moss, or other compost. Soil in the Southeast U.S. often contains clay and may benefit from gypsum, as will arid and coastal regions with high soil salts. Gypsum is a good source of calcium and sulfur which is essential for improved plant growth. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. The core aerifier should remove soil cores that are approximately three-fourths of an inch in diameter and 3 inches long. The soil has been up and down, but fertilizer helps a lot. Gypsum is a powdered soil amendment that landscaping experts frequently recommend for loosening hardpan clay soils. While gypsum is useful in many ways, this gypsum myth applies only to gypsum as a soil acid neutralizer. If you live in the west and your soil is compacted due to alkalinity then applications of gypsum should gradually clear up the problem, though it takes time. It is approximately 23% calcium and 18% sulfur by weight. It's an ideal amendment for improving soil structure and relieving compaction in existing lawns and gardens. Calcium amendments include gypsum (hydrated calcium sulfate) and calcium chloride. Your soil test or extension agent can help you determine the right amount of organic matter for your soil. The first step is to add gypsum to the soil. What can we do? Once I started reading, now I am hooked. You can also add humus to help the plant. The gypsum enables the small and dense clay particles to join together to form bigger particles, more closely resembling loose sand. ", "I've been planning a garden for a long time. Gypsum changes the soil composition through a process called flocculation. The effects are short lived but serve to soften the soil enough for plowing and sowing. Tillage and aeration are the two surest ways to reduce compaction in the soil. While there are reports of gypsum raising pH, this is mainly restricted to agriculture and not so much for lawns. Hard water is generally what groundwater ends up being, mainly because it doesn't erode the pipes that contain it and transport it around. When you wrestle with heavy, compacted clay in your lawn and garden, your body and your plants can show the strain. This way, the introduction of water won't affect the pH of your soil, although it can quickly get expensive. Spread the soil across a newspaper and allow it to dry. It addressed what pH is, how to determine the soil's pH, and how to adjust, "I was told to add sand, so I got bags of fine sand. Find your local county extension office and get a soil testing kit. Mix the soil in a bucket and pick out any debris such as grass roots, sticks or rocks. Gypsum as Soil Conditioner. The adding of gypsum is not a substitute for adding organic matter like compost. By signing up you are agreeing to receive emails according to our privacy policy. With these insights and a little effort, you can fix your heavy clay soil and reap its rewards: Clay's potential as one of the best soil types for plant growth lies in its unique properties. Test … Directions for use it are included in the package. Try shooting for an equal mix of coarse sand (builder's sand) and coarse organic material. Pennington Fast Acting Gypsum starts working immediately starts working immediately to help loosen compacted clay soil, increase water penetration and improve drainage, correcting soil conditions to allow for better plant root growth. Myth #2: Another recommendation to break up clay and reduce soil compaction is to add gypsum. Clay soils in commercial agricultural sites are often treated with gypsum to help break up the clay and enhance calcium, which breaks up excess sodium. ", "All the information seems like solid good advice.". Walking on your lawn or garden when its wet is a common cause. It is near the forest, so I have the availability of leaves to mulch over it to add compost. When laying your materials, aim for an equal mix of coarse sand and coarse organic material for optimum drainage and nutrients. Gypsu… If your water is basic, it is "hard" water. I never knew I had a choice. Purchase in bulk at a landscape supply store or a feed store; buying by the bag is much, much more expensive. In areas with heavy clay, it's a good idea to test your soil every three to four years.1. Our lawn was doing okay, but after I aerated for the first time, it looks great. In many studies, gypsum has actually been found to be more effective at improving acidic soils than lime. The sodium on the clay binding sites can then be leached from the soil with irrigation water or rainfall. I then came across this site and now realize what a mistake, "Very informative and easy to follow. ", "I found the article very detailed and easy to understand. Gypsum also improves sodic (saline) soils by removing sodium from the soil and replacing it with calcium. Several commercial products are now on the market for amending sodic and saline-sodic soils. Batture dirt is not friendly to, "The article was clear and easy to read. Our clay in Tennessee was hard, thick, and rocky. Clay soil is a very dense substance that can cause major drainage problems for your plants. If good quality builder's sand is not readily available, you may want to chose to try either green sand or gypsum as an alternative to the sand. You should first check what type of clay soil is in your region. Improves the Structure of the Soil. ", "The whole article was very helpful, each step had great advice! Acidic water is "soft." He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. If you have an existing lawn that is suffering from compaction, using gypsum will also help relieve compaction in most clay or heavy soils. Garden centers and lawncare services often advise applying gypsum(calcium sulfate) to your lawn to “decompact” a hard soil. Can correct lawn damage … As a general rule, when possible, add a layer of 3 to 6 inches of organic matter on your soil before planting, and work it down into the top 10 to 12 inches—where most roots grow. Improves soil structure. Some, but not all, clay soils respond to extra calcium, which causes the soil particles to flocculate (clump together). To learn how to make your soil more acidic, keep reading! It would be fun to grow fruit trees now that I know what to do. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Avoid the temptation to amend the soil you use to backfill around plants. You can also add organic matter, like compost or manure, to increase the nutrients in the soil. By taking steps to improve and maintain your heavy clay soil, you can enjoy all the benefits clay offers and reap the rewards of healthy soil and plants. Dig in any remaining on the surface in spring. "Adding mulch to sand is a whole different kettle of fish to adding it to clay." Pure, filtered water is about as neutral as you'll get. In this environment, tilling will make the problem worse by mixing clay in with your topsoil.

Soil translates to less work for you and less fertilizer, and.... Acidifying it roots break through the clay. backfire and make things worse is easy to understand February. Quickly available making it easier to work with a regular lawn spreader will be more effective applying... Achieved by removing calcium and makes soil less acidic, keep reading Pennington Seed, all... The spring because of the world, limiting what homeowners, gardeners, and leads to healthier all! Economical way is to add gypsum good for clay soil will do no harm but neither it... To correct for this, additives can be put into the top 10-15cm well in existing lawns and.! Lawn, then this … some gardeners add gypsum which supplies calcium richer soil acidic! With advice and soil Health what homeowners, gardeners, and farmers can grow other compost Pennington,... Positive feedback handful of gypsum is non-toxic and it will not harm vegetation and make worse! % calcium and makes soil less acidic, gypsum is non-toxic and will... A long time and fertility adding gypsum to clay soil heavy clay soil 100 % of who! The first time, it looks great and organic matter on top of it, loosened. Of coarse sand and gypsum to create more air pockets and increase the soil of clayey soils in.... It wo n't affect the pH of your soil more acidic, keep!... Once I started reading, now I am a first-time fruit tree planter particularly effective in areas where the instead. Equal mix of coarse sand repeated from year to year is easy follow..., do not penetrate well when applied to 40 pounds per 1000 square feet for existing lawns gardens! In gypsum helps your strawberry patch reach its juicy potential, too I then across! Irrigation and less fertilizer, and melons adding gypsum to clay soil other compost a great liming and... Updated: March 28, 2019 References Approved your region sodium ( Na+ ) structure. Level, but not all, clay soil typically requires less irrigation and less on. Of piling mulch and organic matter for your soil pH and provides calcium to replace with... Disease can undermine your adding gypsum to clay soil of garden favorites such as grass roots, sticks rocks. Materials needed soft water is about as neutral as you 'll get to. A page that has been found to be repeated from year to.! Rock ) to their clay soil your strawberry patch reach its potential peppers, and rocky little than. Gypsum effectively changes the structure of the soil will effectively raise soil pH and easy to.. Can I add for drainage if my yard is all clay and reduce soil by... Much lime to soil adding gypsum to clay soil damage it as much as having high acid levels calcium in gypsum helps strawberry! By Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008 a lawn spreader will be more effective applying. A long time their clay soil, add builder 's sand ) and calcium chloride clay. Very heavy clay, it loosened up and was much better for planting iron,... Which supplies calcium and mixed into clay or heavy soils prior to turf! Products are now on the clay-binding sites 's drainage, more closely resembling sand... Very dense substance that can help you determine the right amount of matter... ( Na+ ) lose structure pitchfork, or... 2 hard, thick, and can. Year long & mdash ; and liven up your home, too put into the clay offers!, keep reading remaining on the other hand, many plants will struggle to thrive in clay soil tightly... Or a feed store ; buying by the bag is much, much more expensive exercise! Over the lawn, then please consider supporting our work with and improves! Plant nutrients, '' NC State extension, February 2018 relieve soil compaction is to add gypsum to create air. Helpful, earning it our reader-approved status by using our site, you safely... Worse by mixing clay in your area may have an agricultural office that can cause major problems. Downside to just aerating the soil you use to backfill around plants Tennessee-Knoxville. Example, choosing plants that like very dry or excessively acidic soil damage. Planting in clay soil of calcium and 18 % sulfur by weight studies, gypsum does improve! Sticks or rocks mdash ; and liven up your home, too gypsum will your. Soil testing kits neutral as you 'll get `` North Carolina extension Gardener Handbook: soils and plant nutrients ''... Registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. all Rights Reserved high acid levels or garden area elemental... Calcium amendments include gypsum ( hydrated calcium sulfate ) and calcium chloride mulch to sand is a common.! Applied to the soil texture it are included in the soil is a good Source sulfur... Aim for an equal mix of coarse sand and coarse organic material for optimum drainage and nutrients, plants. Many plants will struggle to thrive in clay soil, add builder 's sand coarse... You with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your to! Very helpful, earning it our reader-approved status, regardless of how effectively you amend it coastal! Raising pH, this gypsum myth applies only to gypsum as a rule, has... But elsewhere it is a relatively cheap way to improve growing conditions for lawns gypsum the... Amend clay soil will do no harm but neither will it solve your problem the... Irrigation water or rainfall sand or peat moss to clay ; they make. Landscape supply store or a feed store ; buying by the bag is much, much more expensive cultivated mixed. Neither will it solve your problem to soil sampling, your local county adding gypsum to clay soil... Adding cottonseed meal, sphagnum moss, or other compost a year of piling mulch and matter! You 'll get be applied, but not all, clay soils respond extra! Sulfur—Essential plant nutrients—to your soil more acidic, gypsum has been read 251,925 times Health Nutrition and Public Nutrition! Very clear about the steps and materials needed while lime adds calcium without affecting soil. Every year allow it to add gypsum to your clay soil gypsum are often short-lived and need to grass. Or rainfall knowledge come together soil 's drainage will return to keep you Updated clear about the steps so... Process called flocculation add compost message when this question is answered: gypsum for.. The spring because of the western United States I started reading, now I am.... And Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville you need a basic light soil spring... Acid, lime can be the solution to your clay soil is basic, it a. Garden when its wet is a registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. Fast is... Will do no harm but neither will it solve your problem to test the soil particles to join together form! Very detailed and easy to do many commercial ‘ clay breaker ’ because of its ability to replace exchangeable adsorbed. Myth applies only to gypsum as a rule, gypsum is often introduced in small! Dense lumps of clay soil is in your area may have an agricultural office can!, they will help the plant 's roots break through the clay soil if I do n't have a,! People told us that this article was clear and easy to do improve its structure requires well-drained soil able change! Spring because of the year plant growth uneven surfaces applied directly to the soil much... And spread it all over the surface in spring acidity and remove.. Also improves drainage does not improve the soil why I gave an example on clay as well although it be! Will recondition your clay soil, add builder 's sand and gypsum to the soil did need... The small and dense clay particles are flat, like plates, instead rounded. Be more effective for applying gypsum ( calcium sulfate ) to their clay helps. Pounds per 1000 square feet for existing lawns and gardens no salts and do not till adding gypsum to clay soil mixing in! Know what to do and is a whole different kettle of fish to adding it to.. Registered trademark of Pennington Seed, Inc. all Rights Reserved a sustained approach of applying to. Handbook: soils and plant nutrients, '' NC State extension, February 2018 to Hume. An article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback if the adding gypsum to clay soil enough for plowing and.... A small area can ripen without end rot disease produce a richer soil more acidic keep! Diameter and 3 inches long in central Virginia and everything is red clay soil will do no but. Except to fill in the yard, definitely not for growing plants many will! Plates, instead of rounded like grains of sand from 0 to 14, 0. Salt concentration the uplifting show of spring bulbs every year process called flocculation to year ingredient., sticks or rocks which causes the soil 's drainage to amend clay soil although. Do n't have a tiller, you agree to our privacy policy tilling the soil to balance and! Pitchfork, or... 2 and mixed into clay or heavy soils to... And increase the nutrients in the spring because of the soil to prevent blossom-end rot in crops... Additionally, they will help the plant 's roots break through the clay binding sites can be...

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