With winter in full season, many people have changed their focus from taking care of their landscapes to taking care of sidewalks, driveways, and roads. While de-icing is an important part of winter safety, rock salt and other de-icing materials can also cause widespread damage to nearby trees and shrubs.
So what preventative tree care steps can you take to protect your trees from the damaging effects of winter salt?
Preventative Tree Care Tips
AVOID USING SALT
It’s no surprise that the best way to prevent salt damage is to avoid using salt. While you cannot control what is used on your roads, you can choose alternatives like sand, gravel or kitty litter on your sidewalks, driveways, and patios. Before you do, however, it’s important to clear the snow away as soon as you can before it builds up. Once the snow has been cleared, sprinkle the abrasive materials mentioned above in high-risk areas such a steps, and slick walkways.
PROTECT SUSCEPTIBLE TREES
Preventive tree care includes the use of plastic, burlap or snow fencing to form a protective barrier between trees and nearby roads. This will reduce the accumulation of salt-laden snow and de-icing sprays coming off hard surfaces.
KEEP TREES HEALTHY
Even salt-tolerant trees can’t stand up to salt damage unless they’re healthy. That’s why preventative tree care is important when it comes to watering deeply and applying mulch properly. It’s also just as important to have a tree pruned properly by a certified arborist and have them assess and amend any soil deficiencies while preventing disease and pest infestations.
MINIMIZING SALT DAMAGE
Despite your best efforts, salt damage is a fact of winter here in the greater Tri-Cities area. However, there are some preventative tree care practices that can help reduce damage caused by the amount of salt you use.
Salt buildup can be reduced by flushing an area with fresh water to leach the sodium from the soil. Gypsum, biochar and other compost materials can also help to reduce sodium levels when worked into the soil.
IMPROVE SOIL DRAINAGE
Compact soil cannot drain salt-laden water which can make salt damage worse. That’s why it’s important to add compost to aerated soil to create adequate drainage which will allow water to dissipate.
AVOID PLANTING IN HIGH-RISK AREAS
Avoid planting trees in areas that get hit hardest by winter salt spray. Instead, try using decorative rocks and gravel to make an appealing landscape in hazardous areas. In general, avoid planting trees in spray zones and areas where salt-laden snow will be dumped by shovels and snow plows.
USE SALT-TOLERANT SPECIES
Plant species differ considerably in terms of how much salt they can tolerate on leaves or in the soil. When planting near roads and sidewalks use trees and shrubs that are more able to cope with salt. If in doubt, give us a call – the certified arborist at Westcoast Tree Care would be more than happy to recommend salt-tolerant trees that are appropriate for the Tri-Cities area.
Contact Westcoast Tree Care
Don’t wait until spring to start nurturing your trees back to good health. Taking the right preventative tree care steps will help to minimize winter tree damage. Doing so will ensure you have a vibrant and healthy landscape to enjoy when the warm weather returns.
If your trees are showing signs of distress due to salt damage, consider contacting the certified arborist at Westcoast Tree Care at 1.800.767.8733. We can help you assess the situation and provide you with preventative tree care services with a no-cost, no-obligation quote.