One of the most frequently asked questions our crews will get during the winter is whether or not ice melt will hurt my yard?
Glad you asked! As the freezing and thawing of snow over sidewalks occurs, please keep in mind ice melt will indeed cause damage lawns and other sensitive plants if it’s not properly installed. To prevent long term injury, sidewalks and driveways should be cleared and snow tossed back far enough so when it melts, it does not melt over the top of the concrete and then freeze again the next night. This will prevent reapplication of salt to the same areas over and over and put less salt filled runoff into the yard right off the concrete surfaces.
Keep in mind salt is toxic to plants when it dissolves in water. 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 the 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 re-applying.