To Salt or Not To Salt?

 

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” – John Steinbeck

Winter has arrived, and what a beautiful sight! Snow covered trees, shrubs, and lawns creates the winter wonderland just in time for the holidays. However, to get out of the driveway or to the mailbox, we need to create a path and there are many options available to homeowners, and a common practice is to put down salt to help melt the ice.

Salt has a lower freezing point than pure water, and when added to ice, the salt dissolves first, creating a pool of “salt water”. This “salt water” covers the ice, and lowering its freezing point below the ice’s temperature, the ice begins to melt. Keep in mind that water containing the maximum amount of salt has a freezing point of around zero degree Fahrenheit, so if the outside temperature is below zero degrees, then the salt will not melt the ice and you will need to seek out another option.

While the salt can create a safer passage for you in your driveway and sidewalks, if you have shrubs and/or trees that line the sidewalks and roads are at risk for salt damage. When the salt lands on the plants, the salt can affect the cold hardiness of the plants and can result where the plant is killed by the freezing temperature. Also, salt quickly absorbs water, and when applied around your plants, can soak up the water that may be needed by your plants root systems to survive the winter, snowy months. Even further, the more salt applied around your plants, the more water is absorbed, and while your soil does contain enough moisture to keep the roots happy, once the salt arrives and soaks up the water in the soil can create a drought-like environment for your plants.
So this winter, enjoy the snow, be safe, and if you are going to be putting down salt to de-ice, make sure you are mindful of your plants that line the pavement.

Here at Lush Lawn, we wish all of you Happy Holidays!