Prevention of Salt Damage on Landscape Plants
Posted: January 3, 2012
Just as salt can be harmful to your health, too much salt can also damage your trees and landscape plants.
According to Ed Flory, Penn State Extension Horticulture Assistant, salt damage to trees, lawns and landscape plants can occur when commercial salt used on town roads is splashed or spread on your yard or when ‘ice melt’ products are used on your sidewalks and driveways. Damage from salt occurs when the foliage is burned by salt splashed on the foliage or when salt laden snow is thrown against the foliage. Also salt can be absorbed through the root system as it is washed from the street, sidewalk or driveway. The symptoms of salt damage are: Stunted growth, yellowed foliage with brown edges, brown, scorched foliage or yellowing and withered evergreen foliage.
Salt damage can be prevented or reduced by erecting a barrier of burlap or landscape fabric or covering the plants with the same materials, by planting salt tolerant plants, by using a minimal amount of salt products or by leaching the soil thoroughly with water in the spring. There are also ‘ice melt’ products that you can use around the home that do a good job and do not damage plants. Commercial products containing potassium chloride and calcium chloride have a lower burn potential, also cinders, sand and kitty litter can be used to prevent someone from slipping on the ice.
Plants that are sensitive to salt damage include White Pine, Red Maple, Barberry, Boxwood, Winged Euonymus, European Beech, Common Privet, Crabapple, Norway Pine, Roses, Hemlock and Viburnum.
Plants that are salt tolerant are Norway Maple, Honey Locust, Eastern Red Cedar, Honeysuckle, Colorado Blue Spruce, Mugho Pine, Austrian Pine, Snowberry, Northern Bayberry, White Oak, Sea Pink, Sea Lavender, Begonia, Dusty Miller, Gaillardia, Mints, Petunia, Vinca and Zinnias.