42March 21, 2019

Welcome to Spring! Well, at least what passes as early Spring around here. But the days are getting longer and slowly but surely the weather will be getting warmer.

Even though we haven’t had an abundance of snow this past winter season, the plows were out and they had to spread some ice melting compounds on the roads. Eventually all that ice-melting agent gets plowed back to the side of the road and some of it may wind up on the grass in your yard. As the ground thaws, the ice melting substance slowly sinks into the soil. The grass roots will take up what amounts to salts that are in the ice melting products. This can lead to the roots of the grass being damaged or killed by the salt in the ice-melting product. However you can prevent this from happening if you apply horticultural gypsum to those areas that have been exposed to road salt types of products. The horticultural gypsum comes in various size bags and in different consistencies. I have always found that applying the pelleted form to be the easiest form to spread. Here’s how the gypsum works.

The salts cling to the particles of soil and eventually the roots absorb the salts. The excess amounts of salt in the roots will eventually kill the roots. If you apply the horticultural gypsum as soon as the ground thaws, the gypsum will prevent the salt from sticking to the soil particles. If the salt doesn’t stick to the soil particles, the roots of the grass don’t absorb the salts and the salts do not damage the roots. With the application of the horticultural gypsum, the salts wash down into the soil below where the grass roots grow. The key to this product working is the timely application of the horticultural gypsum. I have always recommended that you wait until the ground thaws and the soil begins to dry out a bit. This is the ideal time to apply the gypsum. The gypsum will need a little bit of water to properly release so applying before a rainy day is helpful. Before you apply the gypsum, you will need to know the square footage of the area you will be treating. You should figure on buying roughly 30 to 50 pounds of horticultural gypsum for every 1,000 square feet of area to be treated.

Horticultural gypsum also has another use in gardening. If you have clay soil in your yard, the gypsum will help to break up the clay soil. By applying the gypsum to the soil over a period of years, you will eventually break up the clay soil particles and it will be easier to dig up the soil in your gardens and it will be easier for the roots of your plants to grow in the soil. Once the gypsum has begun to work, you can spread a light application of topsoil or compost on your lawn to improve the soil quality. This can be done on your lawn once or twice per year to help to improve the quality of the soil in your lawn. If the clay is in flowerbeds or in your vegetable garden, you can apply the gypsum and then apply topsoil or compost to the soil at planting time.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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