How can I prevent damage to trees and shrubs from deicing salts?
Homeowners can minimize salt damage by using deicing salts prudently. Before applying salt, wait until the precipitation has ended and remove as much of the ice and snow as possible. Use deicing salts at rates sufficient to loosen ice and snow from driveways and sidewalks, then remove the loosened ice and snow with a shovel. (Deicing salts need to be applied at much higher rates to completely melt ice and snow.) Mix salt with abrasive materials, such as sand or kitty litter. Fifty pounds of sand mixed with one pound of salt works effectively. Avoid piling salt-laden snow and ice around trees and shrubs. While the amount of salt applied to major roadways can not be controlled, steps can be taken to minimize damage. As soon as the ground thaws in early spring, heavily water areas where salt accumulates over winter. A thorough soaking should help flush the salt from the root zone of plants. If possible, alter the drainage pattern so winter run-off drains away from ornamental plants. When planting trees near major streets or highways, select salt tolerant tree species. Bur oak, northern red oak, honeylocust, northern catalpa, Kentucky coffeetree, horse chestnut, mugo pine, and eastern red-cedar are salt tolerant tree species.