Good ice melt products are critical for maintaining safe parking lots and walkways during winter.
But some products can also harm plants if the resulting slush and brine runs off into surrounding landscaping.
Ice melt that comes in contact with plants can actually leach water away from roots so that plants dehydrate over the winter.
Fortunately, there are highly effective ice melt products that are also friendlier to plants.
Here are two things landscapers can do to protect landscaping during the winter and ensure healthy vegetation in the spring:
In paved areas close to vegetation, select a deicing product that is tough on ice but easy on plants.
Magnesium chloride is perhaps the most plant-friendly ice melter available. It’s also a superior deicer in winter, melting ice down to temperatures as low as minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 32 degrees Celsius).
Magnesium is also a necessary nutrient used in agriculture to provide appropriate plant nutrition.
That doesn’t mean you should sprinkle magnesium chloride deicers throughout your gardens.
But it does mean that if any deicing pellets accidently get in the soil, they will be less harmful to plants.
In fact, several deicers containing magnesium chloride have received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) seal, which means those products meet the EPA’s stringent criteria for environmental safety.
Manage slush and brine appropriately during the winter.
Once snow and ice begin to melt, remove the resulting slush and brine before they have a chance to run off into surrounding landscaping.
You’ll also want to follow specific application instructions for the ice melt product used.
The amount you need will vary depending on the ice melt product you are using and the winter conditions you are fighting, as each product has unique properties.
Rob Peterson is business director of deicing at North American Salt Company, a Compass Minerals Company, which manufactures and markets the SafeStep® Pro Series® line of deicers for maintenance professionals.