Rock salt and de-icing can lead to damage of plants - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Rock salt and de-icing can lead to damage of plants

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SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -

Rock salt and other de-icing products are always helpful when dealing with frigid temperatures and weather conditions in Ohio. 

According to a horticulture expert at The Ohio State University, these chemicals can also cause damage to plants in the surrounding area if misused.

Rock salt has been used by consumers of Ohio for years to lower the freezing point of the ice from driveways, sidewalks, and porches.

According to Pam Bennett, an associate professor in the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, rock salt has other side effects which can cause damage or even killing plants, shrubs, and grass in surrounding areas.

"High salt content changes the chemistry of the soil so that plants can't absorb water and the roots dry out," said Bennett, who is also the state Master Gardener Volunteer program director for Ohio State University Extension. 

Plants specifically affected can range from turf grass to white pines. The most damage is given to the roadways and sidewalk plants who receive the most amount of rock salt exposure.

"It is similar to applying too much fertilizer," she said. "If you spill a large amount of it in one spot, you will see turf burn from the high amounts of salt."

There are other ways to de-ice your surrounding area without damaging plants.

"The best thing you can do is switch to non-sodium de-icing agents like calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate," Bennett said. "Most people just take a handful and toss it around. Make sure you are applying them according to directions so it doesn't bunch up in piles that cause damage." 
 

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