Keyword Site Search

De-icing Salts Are Tough on Evergreens

Sodium chloride, aka rock salt, is the most popular and generally cheapest de-icer. When ice and snow treated with rock salt melts, the runoff can cause wilting of tree leaves (and other injuries to vegetation) when it seeps into soil or is splashed up by traffic.

Dr. Bruce Fraedrich, director of the research laboratories at Bartlett Tree Experts says many trees are affected by rock salt.

If traces of rock salt find their way to the foliage, it becomes desiccated. Some trees absorb the sodium and others suffer from root damage when salt seeps into the soil.

Evergreens, including conifers, pines, spruce and holly trees, are the most susceptible to damage. Fraedrich says soil damage results in significant drooping of the tree, especially at the top, as salt inhibits absorption of water by the root system.

Salt damage produces similar symptoms as drought. Airborne salts (from vehicles) tend to make for thinner leaves and later spring blooming. Stunted growth or browning of foliage, thinning of branch tips, premature fall coloration, defoliation and dead branches are other symptoms. Severe cases often lead to insect infestation.

You can divert salt sources from trees by erecting barriers of burlap or wood, lay down mulch to prevent seepage and thoroughly water during dry periods.

These preventative measures can decrease the chances of trees experiencing heavy damage. Another suggestion is to specify trees tolerant to salt (birch, oak, or juniper) near roads or driveways.

Related Stories

October 13, 2019, 6:48 pm PDT

Website problems, report a bug.
Copyright © 2019 Landscape Communications Inc.
Privacy Policy