Winter safety includes keeping walkways free of ice. Many ice melting products are not plant-friendly. Commonly used rock salt, or sodium chloride, is extremely harmful to plant material and can impact the soil health. Instead, choose products made with calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or calcium magnesium acetate. If using a service, ask about their plant safe deicer options.
Signs of Damage
Some plants show immediate damage from ice melting products, such as browning on evergreens. In summer, deciduous plants may display burn or scorch on leaves, branch dieback, stunted growth, or lack of vigor and death. Lawns along sidewalks and streets can be killed from excessive salt.
Advice on Care
Adding sand or sawdust will extend a deicer and provide extra traction. Try to avoid piling salt-laden snow around trees and shrubs. Make sure drainage patterns flow away from the plants. Thoroughly watering the area in the spring to wash deicer out of the soil, off of the root zones and woody structures of the plants will help.
Chose Salt Tolerant Plants
The best way to deal with potential salt damage is to choose plants known to be salt-tolerant especially if you don’t have control of what type of deicer is used. This does not mean you can use a heavy hand with the deicer, but these plants can handle the salt better.
Shrubs Tolerant of Salt
Common Name: Mockorange
Latin Name: Philadelphus x virginalis