Winter Maintenance: Preventing Salt Damage to Trees and Shrubs

Salt is an ingredient that is very useful for melting snow and ice, especially during cold winters in the tri-state area. However, if your trees, shrubs, and landscapes aren’t properly protected, salt and other substances can cause temporary or permanent damage to your precious greens.

The Problem

When applied haphazardly, salt can be absorbed by a plants root structure, causing dehydration and plant stress. This damage doesn’t just stop with the salt that you use on your walkway and driveway. When vehicles spray salts on shrubs, plants and other greens, this can create damage to the leaves, buds and small twigs that make up the plants’ structure. Such damage effects the plants’ cold hardiness, which essentially makes them more susceptible to freeze damage.

The Solution

So what options do you have to keep your walkways safe and your precious greens  winter-protected?  There are many alternatives to ice-melting products, such as sand or calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a salt-free melting agent made from limestone and acetic acid. This material causes minimal damage to plants and lawns. Also, consider the location and type of plantings for winter:

Where should my plantings live?

Be mindful of areas where snowplows might pile up snow and avoid planting in those spaces. Taking these steps will help minimize exposure to salt and keep your plantings healthier.

What types of plants should I chose?

If it’s not possible to install plantings where they will avoid salt, de-icing fluids or soils with heavy deposits of sodium chloride, choose plants that can better tolerate those types of conditions.

Before taking a trip to the hardware store and purchasing winter materials, call the experts at Emerald and speak with an Arborist. Based on the terrain of your landscape, an expert can tell you the best materials to help you walkways stay safe, while preventing them from doing damage to your trees, shrubs and landscapes.

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