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Do gypsum apps REALLY help to loosen clay soils?

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by Jason Rose, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    I've applied Gypsum to my own lawn over the years (pellitized with sulfur) because of our heavy soils, also high in pH. Does it REALLY help to loosen up the soil and help water permiate better, or is it more myth than fact?

    Had a customer (HOA) call today and inquire about Gypsum for their lawns. They have ALL CLAY. It's nasty stuff, but the lawns seem to do well. I aerate every other year usually. I told her that one application is probably not going to give any sort of visiable improvements (and I don't believe that 2 years worth of applications would show either), but it's oe of those things that "wouldn't hurt to do". Of course the cost factor is there. At the recommended rate of 20 lbs per K. thats 1,400 pounds of gypsum I'd need for the one application.
  2. jbturf

    jbturf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,502

    ive come to the understanding that it will have little and slow effect unless its incorporated into the soil somehow. I guess tilling in and reseeding or sodding would
    be best, but short of major renovation i usually dbl core aerate and apply ( when its financially feasable 4 the customer anyway)
  3. Athletic field

    Athletic field LawnSite Member
    Messages: 152

    Try to use physical methods to correct physical problems (tight soil, little water infiltrating the soil). Try aerating more often and use compost, like mushroom substrait or bio solids. Do your best to mix the OM in while you aerate. OM is the "glue" in creating soil structure.

    Make sure it is just the soil and not low lying areas or poor surface slopes inadequately moving surface water off the lawn.

    Adding Ca will help soil structure if its not there already or low amounts are present. But will increasing Ca a microscopic element, do as much as core aerating, or tillage when it comes to farmers, when loosening the soil?
  4. Look at the soil test. If the ca/mg ratio out of balance, in that you have too much mg, it will help tighten up the soil....so generally adding some ca will help, gypsum could be a good chouce if the ph is correct
  5. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 707

    this is exactly right. you cannot change the physical properties of a soil by chemical means. apples and oranges.
  6. mngrassguy

    mngrassguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,167

    I apply gypsum and lime to my "dog spot" area's in the spring and the damage is less and less every year. What ever works.....
  7. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    I believe it's Lime you are supposed to apply where the dog pees, it helps to neturilize the acid in the urine that kills the grass.

    As for the topic of Gypsum, it sounds to me like the whole idea of using gypsum to loosen soil is something of a myth I guess? To the question of water pooling/running off, yes this area is quite flat, and drainage is poor in areas. They understand that the water is going to pool in low areas, that's only a problem when it rains, but when irrigating I think they are seeing water running off the lawns and down the gutter, and then the next day in the heat those same areas are rock hard and dry.

    There's no feasable way to apply any sort of organic material, let alone any place to get it around here. This is a HOA, 12 homes and about 70,000 sq. ft. of turf area. I think anything I price is going to end up being tossed out, just going to cost too much to treat that large of an area. Aeration is a large chunk of money for them, around $400 and I only have a walkbehind machine (and no, there's no pull behind units for rent around here).

    Like I said, the lawns there look VERY nice, I'd place them in the top tier of all the lawns I maintain talking about quality of turf. I'm sure someone just put a bug in their ear and told them "you need to do this..." or "my guy does this_____ to my lawn, if your guy isn't doing that it's going to die".
  8. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,305

    That's called root-development. :laugh:
  9. weasel

    weasel LawnSite Member
    from 5
    Messages: 195

    I've always used a garden rake or de-thatch rake to work it in and it worked. The conditions were solid clay w/ little or no grass or weeds on it. I would add soil conditioner or topsoil and then start the seeding process. This stuff is cheap so maybe you can experiment and see for yourself.
  10. nik

    nik LawnSite Member
    Messages: 185

    They use lime by tons in the clay of the Willamette Valley where the seed for the grass that most all of you are mowing originated. It is incorporated into the soil before they plant. It helps to a point.

    Athletic field's right, it's really about the OM.

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