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Hold the Salt! (If You’re Near a Tree)

Each winter, millions of tons of de-icing salt are applied to state and municipal roads to keep

the roads safe for vehicles to travel. Salt is spread near houses to avoid pedestrian injuries. This

is necessary for safety, but did you know excessive salt could cause widespread damage to trees, possibly leading to permanent decline and even death?

According to the National Arborist Association, a non-profi t organization dedicated to the tree

care industry, even severe salt damage might not be visible on a tree until the end of summer,

leaving homeowners 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,” explains Robert Rouse, staff

arborist with the NAA. “This causes disfi gured foliage, stunted growth and severe decline in tree

health. Salt runoff washes from pavement into the ground, increasing salt levels in the soil.”

There are steps you can take to ward off tree damage from salt. The NAA recommends taking

the following measures:

❚ Avoid use de-icing salt unless necessary. Mix salt with abrasives such as sand, cinders and ash.

❚ Use alternative de-icing 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 defi ciency.

Call the licensed tree experts at Pardoe’s Lawn and Tree Service at 800-427-4890 for advice on

caring for your trees.

519 Washington Avenue

Chestertown, MD 21620

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