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Salt Damage

The Effects of Deicer Salt On Our Lawns

Salt damage is another common discovery on our lawns come spring. Trees and shrubs can be affected as well. The damage usually comes from the rock salt used on city streets that splashes on our yard or from de-icers we use on our sidewalks and driveways.

We shovel the snow from the walkways or driveways onto the edge of the lawn and the salt damage happens when the salty snow melts onto the grass and burns the foliage. It can also happen when the salt gets absorbed into the root system.

You'll notice the greatest amount of damage on the side that faces the street, driveway, or walkway. These areas will look brown and dead.

Treatment

Repairing salt damage is fairly easy. The harder issue is that you don't know you even have the problem until the snow and ice have melted and you can see your lawn.

Usually, the grass is dying or even dead because of too high a pH level left in the soil by road rock salt or de-icers.

You Will Need

You'll need a rake, some lawn grade gypsum and some grass seed. The idea of applying gypsum is to neutralize the damage done by the salt or de-icer.

What To Do

Spread a thin layer of it over the affected area and water it in. Watering it in helps it to penetrate the grass and to condition the soil. This is an organic way to balance the pH levels and turn the grass back to green.

Dead grass areas will require some mulch and grass seed to be applied to establish new growth. Rake out as much of the dead area as possible, apply a thin layer of mulch, and then a generous amount of grass seed that has been gently raked in. Keep the seed consistently moist until it sprouts and then water as necessary.

TIPS

  • If your lawn is susceptible to de-icing spray every year, keep these products on hand so you're ready to repair the lawn as soon as possible in the spring. The sooner you fix it, the less damage you'll have and the quicker the regrowth process will be.

  • When those city trucks come along and spray the salt, it inevitably gets onto our boulevards. A good idea is to treat the area with a thin layer of peat moss to help neutralize the sodium in the rock salt. This can be a cost effective late fall treatment that makes a good soil conditioner.




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