Gypsum Treatment for Clay Soil


Clay in the soil is problematic for a few reasons. It retains water in wet periods, takes a long time to dry and when it finally does it feels like rock. Plant roots have a hard time pushing through such a heavy soil, frustrating gardeners. Fortunately, gypsum treatment can loosen up the clay soil, so plants and trees can grow there.


  • The particles of clay, being microscopic in size, pack together tightly to create a dense and heavy material that inhibit almost all growth. When this substance is in the soil of a garden it can be a nightmare for the gardener. Clay soils have poor drainage as the clay holds onto the water for a long time.


  • Gypsum's chemical composition is hydrous calcium sulfate. It is a soft mineral and is fairly common with many uses in many areas from foot creams to building walls. It also works well as a soil conditioner for those with clay soil. It can be purchased at hardware stores and is relatively inexpensive.

Gypsum Application

  • It should be noted that this method of loosening the clay in soil is not for a gardener who is looking for a quick fix. This process can take three years before results are seen, but it is easy to do. Gypsum is available as granules, which are then spread over the surface of the clay soil. The advantage with gypsum is that the ground does not need to be cultivated first, as the gypsum slowly absorbs into the ground. This process should be done once a year, usually in the fall.

Gypsum Treatment

  • Gypsum is slowly absorbed into the soil and into the clay. It forces the clay particles apart, which then allow moisture and air to widen the gaps. This process takes a long time but afterward the once hard soil is broken up and loose. Gypsum is not a dangerous substance, does not burn and is considered nontoxic for animals and humans.

How Much Gypsum To Use

  • The standard way to apply gypsum to a garden is to spread it around with a seeder. Cover the surface evenly at the rate of one 40 lb. bag of gypsum per 1,000 square feet of garden. Water the garden immediately to start the absorption of the gypsum into the soil.

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  • Photo Credit cracked soil image by Ana de Sousa from
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