Managing Salt Damage

Salt is used in Chicago to melt winter ice and snow on roads and sidewalks. Wind driven salt spray from fast moving vehicles can travel up to 150 feet from the road. This salt can cause damage to your lawn, evergreens and other plants. Salt draws moisture from the plants and causes them to turn brown.


Use Pelletized Gypsum

Gypsum helps flush the salt out of the soil which will help to heal the grass and encourage new growth. If large areas are extensively damaged, the sod may need to be replaced.

Use a lawn spreader to apply a thin layer over the affected grass and water it in well. Minimize your use of salt on walkways and driveways to keep salt damage on lawns to a minimum (see below)


and other plants

Salt damage to evergreen plants causes needles to turn brown from the tip to the base. Non evergreens may be damaged as well, but this will not be noticeable until the spring when plants fail to leaf out or bud properly because of bud damage.

To help prevent this sort of damage, you have 2 options. You can either protect them with a spray like wilt stop in the fall, or wrap them with burlap.

Once the damage is done, it's done. As new growth begins in the spring, prune out all brown branches. If the damage is only on the surface and there are still green needles underneath, you are in luck. If the brown goes all the way into the plant and nothing is left but bare branches, that section usually won't fill in if it's very large. Unfortunately, those plants can be disfigured for life. You may want to consider replacing them.


The best you can

If you're the one in charge of putting down salt for traction and de-icing, try using an alternative like non-clumping kitty litter or sand. These both provide great traction on ice and snow and don't damage plants.

Also keep in mind that salt only works down to a certain temperature (typically around 10 degrees Fahrenheit). If temperatures are below that, use sand or kitty litter to provide traction because the salt won't work as you'd like it to anyway (plus sand is cheaper!).

#Lawn #Saltdamage #salt

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