Salt can damage your trees

Friday, January 11, 2013

When winter snow and ice begin to fall, so does the salt, on drive ways, sidewalks, and streets to aid in melting away potential hazards. Keeping our surroundings safe during the winter months is important, but salt can be a serious threat to our trees when used without caution.

The experts say, excessive exposure to salt can cause widespread damage to your trees, leading to permanent decline and sometimes death. The problem with salt damage is that it might not show up on your trees until summer, when de-icing salt is the last culprit you would suspect.

To minimize the damage done to trees by de-icing salts, arborists offer the following tips:

1. Use less salt. Mix de-icing salt with abrasives such as sand, cinders, and ash, or use alternatives such as calcium magnesium acetate and calcium chloride.

2. Protect your trees from salt trucks on the street. If possible, set up barriers between the street and your trees to keep salt spray from hitting tree trunks.

3. Plant salt-resistant trees. Trees such as the sycamore maple, white spruce, willow, and birch tend to be more salt-resistant than other species. How well they fare varies from climate to climate across the country.

4. Improve soil drainage. Add organic matter to your soil to help filter salt deposits.

You can also keep your trees healthy by taking care of their basic needs. Other tips that will help combat the damage done by de-icing salt include:

*Irrigate to flush the salts from the soils in spring

*Mulch sufficiently to reduce water loss.

*Control pest infestations and destructive tree diseases.

If you feel your trees may be susceptible to salt damage, contact a local certified arborist in your area.