Winter Salting

If you apply salt to walkways/driveways, do not panic if you get some on your plants. Simply remove as much as possible and fertilize in the spring to counteract any negative impact. Avoid excess applications and always follow the instructions on the label. De-icing products will not completely remove ice and snow, but make the removal process easier. Apply a light even coating before each snowfall. One downside with most deicing products is they all have the capacity to damage concrete surfaces. When selecting salts, there are five main ingredients: sodium chloride, calcium chloride, potassium chloride, calcium magnesium acetate, and magnesium chloride. 


Avoid using sodium chloride (often labeled as rock salt, halite, or NaCl) as this burns plants. Apply at a rate of half a pound per square yard, or about 5 pounds per 100 square feet. Calcium chloride (CaCl) is a good choice when temperatures are going to be in the negatives as it is effective to -25°F. Unlike most deicers, calcium chloride generates heat as it melts ice making it essential in the coldest weather. Just be carefull because it can be damaging when used in high amounts. It can also irritate skin and the unprotected paws of animals. Apply at a rate of one-half cup per square yard, or 1.5 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet. Potassium chloride (KCl) is often used as a fertilizer, but can burn plants when used excessively and is often mixed with more dangerous chemicals. Apply at a rate of one cup per square yard. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is a salt free product that is easier on plant material, but is often the most costly and is only effective to 25°F. Magnesium chloride (MgCl) is recommended as a less damaging product to plants and is effective to -13°F. When applied prior to a storm, it lowers the freezing point of new moisture, preventing snow and ice from sticking to the surface. Magnesium chloride also does not leave a white residue. Apply at a rate of 1 pound per square yard.


Consider using sand or cat litter to reduce the need for de-icers. They will not melt the ice, but will help increase traction.


For an environmentally and pet-friendly option, try Safe Paw™. It's safe for the yard, animals, children, and it will not damage decking, flooring, or walkways/driveways. 


Any time you feel a product has been over applied, it is best to sweep it up, especially from the edges of walks, driveways, and roads. Once the ground has thawed, water the affected areas deeply and frequently to dilute chemicals and push them away from plant roots.