Will Salt Damage Lawns and Landscape Plants

Snow covered sidewalk with trees and a bench

Choosing The Right Ice Melt Product Will Reduce Salt Damage To Your Landscape

Will Salt Damage My Landscape?

Let’s put it this way. In ancient times, salt was used by armies as a biological weapon to destroy enemy’s fields and crops. So the short answer is yes, salt will damage landscape plants.

Salt is made from sodium chloride. It is very useful for melting snow and ice, and good as a seasoning on the dinner table. It can and does damage landscape plants as well as hardscape walkways, driveway and patios.

How Salt Damages My Landscape Plants

When a plant takes up sodium from salt, it dehydrates the roots, changes their physiology and causes additional plant stress. Meanwhile, roots absorb the chloride and transport it to the leaves where it accumulates and interferes with chlorophyll production and photosynthesis.

Salt damage does not stop at the roots. When passing vehicles spray salts on plants, it can damage the plant’s leaves, buds and small twigs. This can reduce the plants cold hardiness, making them more susceptible to freeze damage.

How Salt Damages My Hardscape

Concrete may look like a solid material but it is actually quite porous. Sodium chloride (rock salt) lowers the freezing point of water from 32 degrees down to 25 degrees. It will melt the snow and ice into water between 25 and 32 degrees. This water will soak into the concrete. Salt is also hydroscopic which means it actually attracts more water to it. When the salt/water mixture soaks into the concrete it is actually has around 10% more water than normal. When the temperatures fall below 25 degrees, this water in the concrete expands, causing the damage. Additionally, the more often the freeze/thaw cycle happens, the more likely the damage is to occur.

Is There A Safe Way To Melt Snow And Ice?

The good news is that there are materials available that will minimize the damage to both plants and hardscapes. One alternative is to use sand. The negative side of this is that it only provides traction, not melting, and it tends to get tracked into your home.

When possible, consider non-sodium de-icing agents such as calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a salt free melting agent made from limestone and acetic acid. Calcium chloride causes minimal damage to plants and lawns.

Calcium chloride is also the preferred ice melter for concrete. Calcium Chloride pellets are a fast acting product that melts ice and snow, and resists re-freezing to a temperature of –25 degrees, way colder than we typically get in Montgomery County. This protection to lower temperatures reduces the frequency and damage potential of the freeze/thaw cycles.

The local independent hardware stores, as well as Lowe’s and Home Depot, all carry Calcium Chloride products.

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Remember, Allentuck Landscaping Co. is always here to help you design, install, construct and maintain you lawn and landscape. Give us a call!


Allentuck Landscaping Co.
is Your Residential Landscape Company

Phone: 301-5-515-1900 Email: info@allentucklandscaping.com

At Allentuck Landscaping Co., our mission is to create beautiful environments for people to enjoy. We see landscaping as a way to improve people’s lives.

The Allentuck Landscaping Co. team has been delighting homeowners in Maryland, Washington DC and Northern Virginia for over 28 years with our turnkey approach to landscape design, installation, construction and maintenance. Most companies try to serve many types of customers at the same time; homeowners, shopping centers, office buildings and the list goes on. At Allentuck Landscaping Co., we focus on one customer, you, the homeowner. We have a singular focus on bringing you the best landscape practices, the best customer service, and the best value for your home.

Services Provide – Master Landscape Plans, Complete Maintenance Programs, Plantings, Patios, Walkways, Retaining Walls, Water Features, Outdoor Lighting, Outdoor Kitchens, Trellises & Pergolas, Irrigation Systems, Drainage Solutions, Grading & Sodding. Fire Pits & Fire Places, Spring Clean Ups, Decks, Fences

Areas Served – Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac, Rockville, North Potomac, Darnestown, Gaithersburg, Germantown, Damascus, Boyds, Clarksburg, Ijamsville, Urbana, Frederick and Washington DC.

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