How to Protect Trees from Winter Salt or Rock Salt Damage

How to Protect Trees from Winter Salt or Rock Salt Damage

From foot deep white blankets to delicate flurries, we know the drill after any snowstorm: spread winter salt to avoid icy mishaps.

It’s a quick fix to keep us safe, but rock salt can leave our trees vulnerable to damage.

Know the signs and treatment of rock salt damage to save your trees from harm.

What are the signs of rock salt damage on trees?

Tree symptoms from rock salt damage vary based on the type of tree.

For evergreens, needles that turn a pale green or yellow color are a telling sign of damage. For deciduous trees, the symptoms are not so obvious. When snow has piled up near a tree, rock salt can seep into the tree’s roots and result in dry soil, bark discoloration or canopy dieback.

Once any of these symptoms are spotted, restoring tree health requires management from you and your local arborist.

Here’s how to protect trees from rock salt damage

  1. If you spread salt, choose one with calcium chloride, which is less harmful to plants than salt with sodium chloride.
  2. Wash your trees when the snow clears to rinse away salt on the trunk.
  3. To make sure the tree is rid of lingering salt, your local arborist can remediate and replace salt-tainted soil with organic matter come spring.

What are the salt tolerant trees in the northeast?

Common salt tolerant trees in the northeast include white oak, red oak, Austrian pine andColorado spruce.

Across all regions, healthy, mature trees and trees with thick bark tend to withstand damage well. Trees that are stressed from storm damage, harmful insects or disease infestation suffer more damage from rock salt.

Plan to wash away rock salt from your tree when the weather allows. To reach salt in the tree’s soil, contact your local arborist for remediation service.

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