Ice Melt and the Health of your Lawn

New England winters are notorious for their low temperatures, howling winds, and extreme snowfall.  Most New Englanders are a hardy stock that can handle the snowy roads and blistering cold.  We crank up the fireplace, shovel out the driveway and swarm up with hot chocolate . . .  and wait for spring.  The North East is populated with seasoned weather people.  We know to stock up and have the shovel, snow blower and rock salt ready.  Right?

Well, if you love your lawn and how green and healthy if can look in the warm spring sunshine, then you may want to reconsider the rock salt.  In know you are saying, “But ice is slippery and dangerous!” While we 100% agree that walkways and driveways should be shoveled and maintained for safety, there are some things your should know before you start throwing down the sodium chloride. Let’s look at the damage that Rock Salt may cause to your lawn.

The Hazards of Ice Melt

  • Rock Salt (Sodium Chloride) is effective at melting the ice off your steps and walkways.  However, it is also very corrosive to plants, animals, and your lawn.
  • Rock salt is a large amount of salt put into the environment.  The plants and animals can not handle the large amounts and thus the balance of the water and ecosystem is upset.
  • Salty water will cause brown spots, and dead grass in the spring if the water runs from your driveway toward your lawn or if rock salt sat atop your lawn in a snowpile for much of the winter.
  • Rock salt can also run into drainage systems and also cause an unbalance in the system.

Healthier Alternative for your Lawn and Garden – Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA)

CMA  is one of the safest deicing products due to it’s low corrosive potential. This means less damage to cars, vegetation, sidewalks, and of course, your lawn.   CMA is biodegradable and its ice melt properties are comparable to most standard salt formulations.  The unfortunate part of this product is it’s price.  The  cost can be 20-30 times more than traditional rock salt products. Homeowners must make the decision to spend the money on the deicing product or risk the potential of repairing damaged lawn and plantings come spring.

Talk to your lawn care company about alternatives suggested for your area.  The extra time it takes now may save you a lot of heartache and time in the spring.

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