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Landenberg, Pennsylvania, United States
Based in Landenberg, PA PLG offers Landscape Installation and Maintenance to Southern Chester County and Northern Delaware

Friday, January 6, 2012

How to Protect Your Landscaping from Salt Damage

Happy New Year!  I hope you are as excited about this New Year as we are at LawnScapes.  Winter is the perfect time to get into contact with us for Designs and spring work.  This blog is about the ways to protect your plants from de-icing salt.  Fortunately, due to the rather mild winter there is still time to implement some of these strategies.  We all know that the winters and the resulting salt spreading can potentially harm any plants you have, so I have researched some strategies to help overcome this.  Salt harms plants by burning their foliage (evergreens will turn brown and the buds on deciduous plants will dry up and die), leaching water from their leaves or roots, and creating a salt ‘crust’ on the soil.  Any water will move from an area of lower salinity to higher salinity thus causing the plant to dry and wilt.  Sometimes this cannot be seen until the spring.  If you do have high salinity in your soil leach and dilute the salts by watering heavily in the early spring. 
There are many salts and chemicals used to deice sidewalks and roadways.  Some of the most   common are:
-Sodium Chloride:  least expensive and most common; usually has anti-clumping compounds mixed in to keep the salt in granular form
-Calcium Chloride: less damaging to plants but much more damaging to concrete
-Potassium Chloride: even more damaging to plants than Sodium Chloride
-Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): Non-corrosive to concrete surfaces and not damaging to plants at all.  The down side to this product is that it is more expensive than other deicers.
The first and most obvious strategy is to use salt tolerant plants along roads, driveways, and walks that will have deicing salt spread on them.  There are several varieties that work and I will provide a list to start with at the end of the blog.  If you already have plantings that are not salt tolerant then the following tips should help you out.  The first:  in the fall or early winter, spread gypsum to beds bordering any paved areas at a rate of 50 lbs per 1000 square feet.  This works because the calcium in the gypsum displaces any salt in the soil.  One of the most important things to keep in mind is to use the deicer as efficiently as possible.  This will not only save you money but help you protect your plants.  Clear snow first and use the deicer to provide grip and help clear up any residue.  Mix salt and sand (or clean kitty litter) in a 50/50 mix to clear walks and drives; this will reduce the amount of each that you use and the sand will help filter some of the salt out of the water as the ice melts.  Salt spray and slush splashing onto your shrubs can cause real problems.  Wrapping your plants in burlap or breathable plastics can certainly help prevent this.  If you do use a deicing product before you shovel distribute the salty snow in an area with no vegetation.  Placing it all in one spot, either on your grass or on a tree’s roots, can kill or harm them very easily.
I hope that you find this blog useful and as always, if you have any questions please give us a call here at LawnScapes: 610.869.4046 or shoot me an email at mbradley@lawn-scapes.net.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to visit our website at www.lawn-scapes.net.
-Matt Bradley, BLA, PCH
Salt Tolerant Plants

  • Winged euonymus
  • Mock orange
  • Pfitzer juniper
  • Winterberry

  • Birch
  • Cherry
  • Gingko
  • Oak
  • Yew

  • Perennial ryegrass
  • Tall fescue

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