Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners


Ice can be a traction problem, and is solved in many occasions by using salt. Salt injury occurs due to an increase in the soil's sodium content. Salt readily absorbs moisture, tying it up in the soil and extracting it from plant roots. Sodium and chloride ions also travel throughout the plant, accumulating in various plant parts such as leaves and stem at a toxic level.

Symptoms of salt injury include stunted, yellowed foliage with brown edges, premature leaf color and death of the leaf margin; the latter gives the plant a scorched appearance.

Affected evergreen foliage turns yellow or brown in the early spring.

Damage usually occurs only on the side of the plant facing a road, driveway or sidewalk.

Avoid injury by leaching the soil thoroughly with water. Alternatives to salt such as sand, cinders or light gravel can be used. Kitty litter can also be used for traction.

Urea fertilizers can be used to melt ice when necessary. Excessive applications of urea can cause nitrogen burning or unusual turfgrass growth in the spring.

See: Salt Injury--Tolerant Plants

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