The Dangers of Salt Damage in Trees and Other Plants

The new year is here but in Rhode Island, there are still many cold months of winter ahead. That means more months of snow plowing and road salt. Salt is applied to roads, pavements, and sidewalks all over the United States. It is a vital tool in keeping roads and highways safe and ice-free. But road salt can have unintended consequences when it comes to your plants. Especially ones that sit near the road. If your plants are in danger of salt damage, keep reading to find out how you can take measures to protect them.

Salt Damage In Trees and Plants

Many Rhode Island homeowners have trees or other plants sitting near the road. These plants sit in the salt zone, or the area hit with the most salt thrown by snowplows and cars. Salt brine can damage your plants, causing burns on leaves and buds, which can kill them. Signs of salt damage in trees include branch dieback, bud death, and needle or leaf browning on the side of the plant facing the road. Symptoms in deciduous plants won’t be apparent until they bud in the spring. High enough concentrations of salt can affect the nutrients in your soil, leading to a decline in your plants. The chloride in road salt mixes with water and can be absorbed by the plant, affecting photosynthesis and chlorophyll production. Salt accumulation can reach toxic levels, causing leaf burn and dieback. Salt can also be thrown on our lawns and flower beds by snow shoveling and plowing the driveway. If left untreated, it can leave scorch marks in your grass, and nothing will be able to grow there. 

A few of the Common Symptoms of Salt Injury Include:

  • Browning or discoloration of foliage
  • Bud damage or death
  • Damage on the side facing the road
  • Early leaf drop
  • Fewer or smaller leaves than normal
  • Flower and fruit smaller
  • Needle or leaf burn
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Reduced plant vitality
  • Branch dieback
  • Wilting in summer

How To Protect Your Rhode Island Plants From Road Salt

Salt gets on our plants when it is thrown on them by plows and other means. One of the most important things you can do is rake your lawn in the spring, especially near the road and in snow piles. Not only will there be a large concentration of salt but also rocks and pebbles that can damage your lawnmower. Other ways to protect your landscape include:

Use A Tarp
This trick should be done before the first snowfall. Place plastic sheets or burlap around the base of your trees and ornamentals to cover the root zone. Remove the barrier in the spring and rake the area to get rid of any stray salt and loosen the soil.

Water, Water, and More Water
When the snow melts in the spring, the salt in the snow will seep into the soil. You can dilute the salt with water to wash it away. Just keep a garden hose or sprinkler on the area for a few hours a day over three days. This will ensure that all salt has been flushed away. 

Designated Snow Pile
Salt accumulates on our lawn when we shovel and plow our driveway. Whether you plow your own driveway or have someone else do it for you, it’s a good idea to designate a snow pile area. This lets you control where salt will be concentrated so you know exactly where to rake in the spring. 

Keep Your Trees and Ornamentals Healthy With Tree and Shrub Care Services From 4evergreen

The new year brings new opportunities in creating the lawn of your dreams. Get a head start this year by keeping your trees and shrubs healthy through 4evergreen’s specialized tree and shrub services. Our tree and shrub care program is guaranteed to make your trees healthier and more attractive looking. It is designed specifically for the needs of your Rhode Island trees and shrubs. 

We can make your lawn the envy of the neighborhood through our six-step lawn care program. This highly effective program includes fertilization, weed control, and grub control to ensure your yard looks its best all year. The programs can be designed to meet the needs of you and your lawn. We also offer 100% organic programs as well. 

Keep up with the latest tips and tricks in tree care, lawn care, pest control, and more by following our monthly blog and following us on Facebook for the latest news. Call us at (401) 398-8850 or fill out our contact form below!

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