It’s time to get “growing”….it’s been a long winter and I want to see green grass don’t you? Then it’s time to wake up your lawn. To do so I’ve always taken a word from the wise as in Ben Franklin and applied gypsum to my lawn. Found throughout the world , gypsum got the name Plaster of Paris from rich deposits near the French capital. It was ambassador to France Ben Franklin who recognized the value of gypsum as a soil amendment and fertilization agent. The story goes that he applied gypsum on a clover field so that the words “this has been plastered” were written in gypsum on the middle of the field and could be read. It was also Franklin who said “He that rises late must trot all day”. I take Ben’s advice and wake up my lawn in spring every year with a healthy dose of gypsum.
Gypsum or calcium sulfate will provide better nutrient uptake especially nitrogen for a greener lawn. It does not change your soil pH and improves aeration in heavy or compacted soils by flocculation of soil particles. It is perfect for lawns under the strain of salt issues from winter application of ice melter or dog urine deposits making the soil “sodic.” The calcium in gypsum pellets will release the sodium from the soil particles and be flushed from the root zone. It is not a substitute for use of a core aerator or the addition of organic matter, but it is a temporary solution to “wake up your lawn”. The flocculation improves penetration of nutrients and water into the root zone decreasing runoff and improving drainage.
Diseases can become more prevalent in heavy and compacted soils due to slow permeability.
I read a study that lawns where calcium sulfate was applied had a 22% increase in clipping weight of Kentucky Bluegrass! Even though calcium is generally readily available in Michigan soils, the calcium and sulfur are beneficial as part of a fertility program for lawns. Calcium is a an essential plant nutrient important for cell wall integrity. It is very beneficial as a constituent in the soil to maintain good soil structure and to improve overall nutrient availability. Sulfur is also an essential plant nutrient. It’s primary role is to increase the efficiency of nitrogen use in plants. It is active in making contributions to chlorophyll formation essential to all growing plants. As a result, visually your grass will be much darker green where sulfur is used as part of a fertility program.
Gypsum pellets today are available in granular form making it easy to apply. Much easier than the baking powder consistency Ben Franklin had to deal with years ago when he too understood the power of gypsum to wake up your lawn and garden!