Road Salt Damages Trees

Hold the Salt!
Especially Near a Tree

Each winter, millions of tons of deicing salt are applied to state and municipal roads to keep the roads safe for vehicles to travel.

Homeowners spread salt near homes and businesses use salt to avoid pedestrian injuries. This is necessary for safety, but, were you aware that excessive road salt can cause widespread damage to trees, possibly leading to permanent decline and even death?

Severe salt damage might not be visible on a tree until the end of summer, leaving home owners wondering what might have caused the problem. In some cases, decline might not be visible for years.

Salt deposits migrate to the stems, buds and roots of trees. This causes disfigured foliage, stunted growth and severe decline in tree health. Salt runoff washes from the pavement into the ground, increasing salt levels in the soil.

There are steps you can take to ward off tree damage from salt:

  • Avoid use deicing salt unless necessary. Mix salt with abrasives such as sand, cinders and ash.
  • Use alternative deicing salts such as calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate.
  • Improve drainage of soils. Add organic matter such as activated charcoal or gypsum, and thoroughly leach salt residues from the soil.
  • Erect barriers between pavement and plants.
  • Plant trees in locations away from any type of salt spray.
  • Plant salt-resistant trees in areas where high salt spray is inevitable.
  • Provide adequate irrigation and mulching to reduce water loss.
  • Prune properly and add fertilizers to correct nutrient deficiency.
  • Control tree damaging diseases and pest infestations.

If you are unsure about your tree’s health, we’ll help identify and remove potential hazards, as well as treat the causes of your tree health problems.

  • Schedule a Property Inspection - Be Proactive

    Back to Tree Health Page from Road Salt Page

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