Salt damaged Pine trees


Salt Damage on plants in the landscape can come from two sources:

  1. Salt deposition on above ground plant parts such as leaves, needles, twigs and branches
  2. Salt residue in the soil from salt contaminated meltwater and/or actual dry salt deposition particles on soil surface.

Both salt damage sources can be present together or separate, depending on site exposure. Symptoms of both sources are similar in appearance.

Browning and yellowing of foliage is common to both sources, but being more scattered and spotty with  deposition on above ground parts. ‘ Salt in soil’ symptoms alone have the browning and yellowing on the foliage tips and margins, rather than scattered. Foliage, twig and branch dieback with possible ultimate death from severe exposure can result from either source. This is especially likely when both sources of exposure exist on a particular site.

Here are some approaches that can be taken to reduce or prevent salt damage:

  1. Erect temporary or permanent fencing between plants and salt source.
  2. Direct salt runoff away from plants with appropriate grade changes.
  3. Wrap plants with burlap during salt deposition season.
  4. Plant salt tolerant plants in exposed areas. (Check the Morton Arboretum for a listing of salt tolerant plants.)
  5. Remove/Do not place plants in severely exposed sites.
  6. Modify or reduce salt application techniques near exposed sites. Subsitute sand or other similar more benign materials for salt to obtain similar results.
  7. Frequently hose down affected plant materials and flush soils with copius amounts of water where possible.
  8. Apply anti-transpirants to above ground plant parts in early November and renew again in February, weather permitting.

Harold Hoover


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