It’s not a big secret that winter snow can pretty much bring your yard and garden to a standstill. With heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures comes a whole new set of problems to tackle, not to mention having to shovel it all off your driveway, sidewalk and walkways. And all that, more likely than not, will lead you to find a better solution to keeping you and your snow shovel inside more often.
Until they invent snow-proof concrete you’re pretty much left with the old stand-by, de-icing salt. Now while it does work, salting can also cause its own problems. For instance, damage to your car’s paint job and overall appearance, but one thing that gets overlooked is its potential damage to your landscape.
If you pay close attention, you can probably spot where salt mixed in with the water system or was even directly applied to plants and shrubs, causing significant damage. Next time you’re out in your yard or even on the road, take a look at the foliage right next to concrete that de-icing salt has been applied to, you’re sure to see some dying plants and damage.
The problem is that all this salt can either mix into the water table your plants use or salt can begin to accumulate in the soil itself. Salt affects plant growth significantly by restricting the uptake of all those nutrients found in soil and water that are vital to growth.
So, how do you save your plants without slipping and causing yourself injury on your driveway? While there isn’t a real end-all, be-all solution, there are some things you can do to at least minimize the damage.
First and foremost, even though it is freezing outside, try to shovel as much as possible. The less salt you use, the less damage is done. Also, stay as mindful as possible about not shoveling salt-mixed snow all over your plants. Although it sounds like common sense, when you’re out there in the cold you may only be focusing on going back into your nice, toasty house.
Salt and Sand
This little trick is actually one of the simplest and easiest. Mix the salt you’re using with sand. That’s going to go a long way to reduce the salt content and the damage it causes while still providing traction on your walkways. The suggested ratio here is 50lbs of sand mixed with about 1lb of salt.
If at all possible, wash off your plants as soon as they are exposed to salt. As long as you’re not absolutely drenching them you’re not going to do any more damage than rain or snow does. This alone can do quite a bit to help you reduce some of the damage that salt causes.
If none of this works or you find it to be less effective than you would like, the only other suggestion we have would be to rearrange your landscape come spring with next year’s winter in mind. If you can switch out tender plants with something a bit more salt-durable that could be your solution.
Remember finally that you can always wrap plant bases in burlap to help protect them from winter. While there isn’t much, if anything, you can do to completely negate salt damage, if you utilize some of these simple tips you just might be able to minimize damage and keep things under control.