Salt and Plant Stress

The following Horticulture article printed in the 2015 Winter edition of the Oldham County Extension newsletter.

Salt Stresses Plants

Salt and deicers, used for winter snow and ice removal, wash off roads and sidewalks into the soil. As well, passing cars can spray salt up to a couple hundred feet into a yard.

Salt spray can cause damage to evergreen foliage. Any amount of salt changes soil pH. Even if there is no visible damage, high salts can harm roots and stress plants. Too much salt can even kill a plant. Plant stress often leads to increased insect and disease damage during the growing season.

The use of fertilizer as a deicer is not necessarily a better alternative. This method can also result in high salts or over-fertilization.

Apply only enough salt to remove the ice and snow on the sidewalk and driveway. Piles of snow removed from a surface that was salted should not be placed near landscape plantings.

Snow removal is important for personal safety, but just a little extra effort helps protect the landscape too.

Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Horticulture Assistant. Edited by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant.

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