Minnesota winter weather means white snow, crisp air and unfortunately… rock salt. Rock salt is frequently used during the cold winters as a de-icing agent, prevent winter accidents on roads, driveways and sidewalks. The same qualities that make the salt a great solution against slippery ice can make it toxic for your lawn.
Removal of moisture
Salt removes the moisture from the soil, keeping it from getting to your lawn's roots. As an effect, plants can become starved of water and die. For example, if the salt touches an infant grass blade, it will take the moisture form the blade leaving it brown and withered. Though most grass lies dormant in the winter and therefore unaffected by salt, the damage can still occur in the soil, drying it out come spring.
Increasing of toxicity
Salt tends to separate into its basic ions when dissolved in water. The sodium ions block grass roots from getting necessary nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. The chloride ions are absorbed by the roots instead, growing to toxic levels. When the grass contains too much chloride, it can't produce chlorophyll effectively and will starve when it can't turn the sun's light into energy.
How to protect your lawn
The first step is using less salt on your own property. Though you can’t stop the city from using salt on public roads, you can minimize your own impact on your yard and apply less salt to your sidewalks and driveway.
One of the main ways salt damages your lawn is by increasing the pH levels, raising acidic properties of your lawn. By using limestone, you can counter this effect and lower the pH levels in your lawn making it a safer environment for grass to grow.
Kill two birds with one stone and decorate your lawn while also protecting it. Usually, the salt that winds up on your lawn collects around the edges where the road and your lawn meet. By creating a decorative border of stones or bricks, you can add beauty to your lawn while creating a buffer zone to absorb salt damage.
If you’re looking for more advice and ideas on protecting your lawn, call us. We are certain you will agree with our current customers and us – Birch Tree Care is the best tree and lawn care service in town.