February 24


How To Avoid Salt Damage On Your Trees

By Noel D.

February 24, 2019

salt, seasonal tree care, tree care, winter, winter tree care

Many townships and cities will use salt to help de-ice and de-snow streets. This helps to keep sidewalks and roads walkable throughout the winter months, helping to ensure that everyone gets where they need to go. While this is a great invention and it is something that needs to happen in order to keep most of us on track and get the kids back to school. One big problem? It takes a toll on your trees, shrubs, and anything else that lives in your yard and along the road line.

Most trees will be just fine throughout the winter season. However, with the stronger storms that seem to be hitting us, we have to find ways to prepare. If you keep your trees healthy throughout the year and tend to any issues that might emerge, you shouldn’t have a problem keeping them healthy.

But, there are some basic things that you should know in case there are problems that do emerge:

3. You Can Take The Salting Into Your Own Hands

frozen tree
Credit: Esther Westerveld
  • You can purchase salt that is safe for plants
  • It tends to be more expensive, but you don’t have to use as much
  • Calcium Chloride is the most popular option for homeowners

If you have the choice of using your own salt, whether it is within your own yard or on your sidewalks, you should try to choose a salt that isn’t as harmful to plants. There are many types that you can purchase, though they aren’t widely available for large scale usage, according to the Muskoka Watershed Council. Remember that while these can be a bit more expensive, you are likely going to save money later on down the line when it comes to tree care, you won’t have to spend as much.

The best option is calcium chloride because it is the least damaging. However, this does not mean that it cannot do any damage – it is still a chemical and it can still do harm. You don’t want to use too much of it because it could seep into the soil and cause some growing problems later on down the line. If you want to avoid this or if you do have to use a lot along a treeline, you may want to mix it with sawdust or sand.

Another step you can take is to purchase trees that are just tolerant to salt. There aren’t many options, but you can choose from pin oaks or hedge maples.

2. Know How Trees Are Harmed By Salt

Tree covered in ice
Credit: Kurt Bauschardt
  • Can cause bark deterioration and discoloration
  • Evergreens are the most susceptible trees
  • Watch out for root impacts

One of the most obvious signs that your tree has a problem due to salt is that you can see discoloration on the trees and shrubs. Often, this discoloration will be on the bark or branches of the trees, but you might be able to see it on the roots or the leaves themselves. It is most obvious on evergreen trees because you can see the needles all year round, which will easily show the damage.

It is important to note that while this is ugly, it doesn’t have to be a sign of some deep problem.

A bigger problem can emerge when the salt itself goes into the soil around the tree. This allows for prolonged exposure and can interfere with some of the natural minerals and nutrients that help to balance out the health of the tree. At some point, this will make it more difficult for the tree to grow – most often, you will start to see signs in the spring, according to the University of Masterclasses.

1. Keep Your Trees Watered Throughout Winter

frozen tree
Credit: Belinda Marie Pix
  • Rinse off excess salt as soon as possible
  • Make sure water doesn’t freeze
  • Can help to flush salt from your soil

Once the snow or ice has come and gone, you should consider rinsing your trees off. This will ensure that you minimize the impact of the snow on your trees. Salt has been designed to act slowly, so you should rinse off as soon as the weather gets above freezing. Don’t do it before it gets above freezing, or you could be doing another type of damage to your trees. If you have enough advanced notice, you want to move salt away before a storm even approaches – many townships will salt well before the storm. However, make sure you keep the safety of other people in mind.

If you are interested in what salt does to the soil, the University of Tennessee interprets: “Irrigate soils to leach sodium and chloride before spring growth. A saline soil condition is relatively easy to correct. Since most salts are water-soluble, applications of water will effectively leach salts out of the root zones. A general formula suggests that 6 inches of water should be applied to leach out about half the soluble salts. Leached potassium and magnesium can be replaced through the application of fertilizer.”

During the winter months, it can be quite painful to go outside and take care of your plants, shrubs, and trees. Instead, we often just allow the elements to take on our trees. However, you have to remember that they are an extremely important part of your property and deserve to be treated as such. You should look after your trees after every big storm, whether it is snow or not. If you think that your trees are suffering from any problems, you want to consult a tree care specialist. We can help you to assess what’s actually going on and suggest treatment plans that will help you to get your trees back to the way that they were.

If you are worried about your trees or you see something that just doesn’t look right, make sure to give Arbortec Tree Service a call at (303) 466-3175. While you can certainly watch over your trees and love them, there is nothing that beats the practiced hand of professionals.

Header photo courtesy of kyle post on Flickr!

About the author

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Contact Us for a Free Estimate