Winter is no day at the beach. It’s grueling, and it damages almost everything that’s not protected. Icy winds snap tree branches. Freezing temperatures drain car batteries. Even when we combat it, there are casualties. Putting ice melt products on the roads will help in keeping ice off, but they also damage your car.
And did you know that these ice melt products can also damage your lawn?
The sodium chloride in rock salt sucks the moisture right out of plants, grass, and soil. Sodium ions are absorbed into plants instead of the necessary calcium and potassium in the soil. This stresses plants and grass, making them even more vulnerable to damage from the freezing temperatures.
Rock salt can be found up to 150 feet from the road it was applied to, and it can stay in the soil for years. If you’re near a busy road, it’s important to know that your lawn may be susceptible to damage.
How Can I Prevent Damage?
When salting, you want to make sure that you’re using the appropriate amounts of rock salt, and that you’re not overdoing it. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label.
Safe ice melt products are usually labeled “Safe for Landscape Use.” But if you’re still not sure, check the label for calcium-chloride or calcium magnesium acetate. Both are salt-free.
Put plastic covers on your grass where it borders roads and driveways. Put burlap sacks over plants. You can also grade driveways and walkways to drain away from plants.
Make sure that you’re shoveling snow as soon as possible. Try to keep your walkways and driveways clear to avoid unnecessary salting. Cat litter and sand are alternatives to rock salt that won’t damage your lawn.
How Do I Know if My Lawn is Damaged?
You won’t really be able to tell until the weather starts to warm up. Look for patchy brown spots in your grass, especially near the road and driveway. These indicate that the grass isn’t able to convert nutrients into healthy cells.
Rake away thatch and debris from the brown spots. Then give it a week or two before checking again. If there is some new green growth, the grass should be able to heal on its own. But if you don’t see any, it’s likely that there is significant damage to your lawn.
What Can I Do to Fix It?
If the grass doesn’t start to heal itself, do not immediately plant new grass. These seeds won’t be able to germinate until the salt is gone.
Instead, give the soil a deep watering. This can flush salt from the soil. Melting snow and rain will also help aid in this.
You can also apply pelletized gypsum soil conditioner, which reverses salt damage by replacing the salt with calcium and sulfur. This helps the grass to heal and will encourage new growth. It also helps the soil to retain water.
It can take 6-8 weeks for the grass to recover from salt damage. If you don't see signs of recovery after taking these steps, it's time to re-seed the soil, as the grassroots are dead.
Contact Us if you have questions about your lawn, or if you’d like to schedule a FREE ESTIMATE