Now that winter has set in many people change their focus from taking care of the trees and shrubs in the yard to taking care of the sidewalks, driveways and roads. Many people still use a form of salt to de-ice the pedestrian areas. Few people know or understand that salt can do a lot of damage to trees and shrubs.
Salt often times leads to permanent decline and in some cases death, especially with susceptible species of trees and shrubs. The challenge for an arborist diagnosing plant problems is the fact that salt damage often will not show itself until later in the growing season. It’s at this time that the plants are often stressed from insects, disease, heat, drought etc. Salt damage from the previous winter will first show up at this time. Over time salt migrates to the stems, buds, and roots of trees causing disfigured foliage, stunted growth, brown and or yellowing foliage and overall decline in tree health.
To prevent salt damage:
- Reduce the amount of de-icing salt by mixing it with an abrasive material like sand or ash.
- Don’t use salt at all, use calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate.
- Improve the drainage of the soils by using mulch.
- Erect barriers between pavement and plants.
- Plant salt resistant varieties of plants in areas of high salt usage.
- Keep trees and shrubs healthy through proper fertilizers to correct nutrient deficiencies.
- Control diseases and insect stressors
Hoppe Tree Service has been taking care of trees and shrubs for over 3 generations. Our certified arborists have many years of experience. If you have questions or would like some help don’t hesitate to call. We work year round and can assess your landscape. We will work with you to determine the best salt resistant trees and shrubs to plant and how to care for your existing landscape plants.
Examples of salt injury:
Written by Bob Gluck
Certified Arborist WI-011A
Hoppe Tree Service