A common mineral, gypsum softens soil and allows tired lawns to become revitalized over an extended period. Often recommended for lawn care by home garden centers, gypsum continues to be a source of controversy among agriculturists. Inexpensive to buy and simple to apply, gypsum is not a fertilizer, so there is little chance of harming your lawn with this product.
Created in nature as a byproduct of sulfide oxidation, gypsum is mined from huge deposits all over the globe. In the United States, sources are found in Nevada, Texas, California, Oklahoma and Iowa. Gypsum is a multiuse mineral found in chalk, plaster of paris, plaster, glass, portland cement and even in tofu. A significant part of the gypsum market is the agriculture sector.
Dr. Brent Rouppet, an international agricultural consultant, promotes the numerous benefits of the mineral and two of the elements contained in the mineral in particular: calcium and sulfur. Essential for lawn and plant growth, gypsum is an inexpensive means of delivering calcium in large quantities, Rouppet writes in "Western Farm Press." When it is mixed into the soil, gypsum improves compacted soil by causing sand, silt, clay and other particles to band together, improving vital air movement.
The Louisiana State University Agriculture Center contends that the gypsum application is unnecessary because most lawns and grass areas are mixtures of native and nonnative soils and are already loose. Application of the mineral in these areas will not harm the soil or plants, but the center considers it an unnecessary expense and use of time. Core aerifying in April, May or midsummer is a better alternative for reducing soil compaction, according to the LSU AgCenter.
As it is 100 percent nontoxic, gypsum is safe to handle without protection. Pets and children may play on the lawn any time after application. There are no nutrients, so you do not need to worry about burning the lawn.
The best results can be obtained by using the granular form of gypsum, which anchors itself in the soil, thus reducing loss due to wind or water. The flakes will break down after a few applications of water. Apply gypsum at a rate of 40 lbs. per 1,000 feet. You do not have to worry about lawn burn due to overapplication. Apply the mineral any time of the year but only once a year.