Salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water because sodium ions replace the needed phosphorous and potassium in the soil, robbing them from your plants and shrubs. Rock salt absorbs the water that would normally be used by roots. Roots dehydrate and plants are stressed. Salt reduces the cold hardiness of plants, making them even more susceptible to frost damage.
Here are a few tips to keep your plants safe and your sidewalks and driveways clear:
- Don’t over-salt! Follow label directions precisely.
- Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold. Salt is most effective at temperatures just below the freezing point.
- De-icing agents with calcium-chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate, are salt-free and should be used in extreme cold.
- Also, in extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over surface before you apply the ice melt for better results.
- Erect barriers with plastic fencing, burlap or snow fencing to protect sensitive plants.
- For plants that do get sprayed by salt, use a broom and lightly brush salt off of the plants. You may not see the damage to plants and trees by salt or ice melt until spring.
- Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible, and try to keep sidewalks and paths clear to avoid reapplying.