When the snow finally melts, its time for a little lawn and order in your yard. There are two easy ways to give your lawn a kick in the plants. The first is a simple leaf rake. Raking up the matted lawn and cleaning up debris from last fall will open up the turf to allow the sun to warm the soil and improve air movement to fight off snow mold. Besides, raking is great exercise. But did you know that a famous character in American history may have known years ago that gypsum or as they called it plaster of Paris, could flocculate the soil and wake up your landscape to spring?
That’s right, Ben Franklin seemed to know that gypsum was a beneficial amendment to his gardens in spring. Ben was known for more than his electric personality. He carted in gypsum to use at his Philadelphia farm and was known to have some of the best gardens around. It is said that Ben would apply gypsum to areas of clover and write words with the application that would become evident when the calcium and sulfur did it’s thing. Prior to computers it was his version of what I would call “see-mail.” Ben understood the benefits of clover……it’s a nitrogen fixing plant taking nitrogen from the atmosphere and storing it in it’s roots……fixing nitrogen or feeding the soil naturally. Ben also knew the benefit of gypsum to gardens and “lawn” areas (in his case clover fields). But did Ben, the inquisitive genious he was, know that the calcium in gypsum would help flocculate the soil. This action helps draw the soils sand, silt and clay particles together giving the soil breathing room. That’s why gypsum is said to be a remedy to help “soften” or open up clay soils. It’s important to note that gypsum is not a substitute for aeration. A compacted lawn needs to be mechanically aerated. Gypsum just helps in waking up the lawn, to take a deep breath after a long winter and give the greening and growth process a “kick in the plants.”
Gypsum today is available pelletized making it easy to apply to the lawn. The calcium is very beneficial to the lawn and the added benefit is it helps neutralize salt out of the root zone faster with the spring rains. Gypsum pellets sold in a garden center also have a percentage of sulfur which is great for giving the lawn a dark green color.
Travel at the speed of “ground” and now that the yard work is done, let’s go fly a kite! (Just don’t do it during a thunderstorm like Ben).