Boo to Brine: The Effects of Road Salt on Trees and Landscaping

As the winter season rolls around, salt starts piling up on the road. Of course, it melts right into the snow and ice it’s meant to protect against, but that doesn’t mean it goes nowhere. That melted salt turns into what is essentially brine, then seeps into roadside soils, damages tree roots and sprays up on shrubs. Not good.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent salt from taking your trees down with it this year. Here are five of our favorite steps to put into place right now.

  1. Keep Trees as Healthy as Possible

One of the most important steps to take is to keep your trees healthy the rest of the year. Prune them properly, water them regularly to combat dryness (yes, even during the winter!) and fertilize when necessary. It’s also a good idea to mulch them to protect their roots from temperature shifts and keep salt from soaking through.

  1. Put Up Barriers for Susceptible Plants

If you have super-delicate shrubs such as daphne or other evergreen leaf plants, the simplest way to protect them from spray is simply to erect a barrier. Pieces of plywood will do the trick, or you can hang plastic between stakes.

  1. Wash Leaves and Needles

As soon as it’s above freezing, wash your plants off. Drag a hose over or bring cans of water and give your trees and plants a light rinse. If you can’t reach to the top of them, that’s okay; do the bottom, which is the area most affected by spray anyway. Do NOT try this when temps are below 32, as that will cause far more harm than good.

  1. Keep Salty Sites Clear

Perhaps the easiest way to avoid salt damage is to … wait for it … have no plants there. Genius, we know. If you can, just find other areas to put your trees and you’ll be happier.

  1. Remove Unhealthy or Diseased Trees

When salt is in season, you can’t afford anything that might compromise your trees and shrubs further. That means it’s super important to reduce the chances of disease as much as possible. Contact a professional such as Premier Tree Solutions to prune out diseased limbs and remove dead or dying specimens as soon as possible if you want to avoid the spread of pests, fungus, or bacteria.

To get in touch, contact us at 404.252.6448 for routine maintenance, or for an emergency, ring 404.569.8897. We’re here to ensure tree health all year long, so don’t be shy!