The Salty Truth

Every winter, millions of tons of de-icing salts are dumped on roads, driveways, and sidewalks to prevent

vehicle and pedestrian accidents. But did you know excessive salt can cause widespread damage to trees,

possibly causing permanent decline and even death? According to the Tree Care Industry Association, even

severe salt damage may not be visible for one to two years after it occurs. This leaves home owners baffled

by the cause of the mysterious damage to their trees. “Salt deposits migrate to the stems, buds, and roots of

trees.” Explains Lee Gilman, staff arborist with TCIA. “This causes disfigured foliage, stunted growth and severe

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

avoid damage to your trees this winter:

  • Avoid using de-icing salt unless necessary.
  • Mix salt with abrasives such as sand, cinders and ash 
  • Provide adequate irrigation and mulching to reduce water loss
  • Improve drainage of soils. Add organic matter such as activated charcoal or gypsum, and thoroughly leach salt residues from the soil.