Salt damage on a Maple tree
Salt damage on a Maple tree
Salt damage on Euonymus
Salt damage on Euonymus

The hard winter we experienced is almost behind us, but the effects are lingering. While City Crews worked hard this winter to keep the streets free of ice, the road salt used can damage trees and shrubs near the street. Symptoms of salt damage on plants include “leaf scorch” around the leaf margins on a deciduous tree and yellow, brown or fallen needles on an evergreen tree or shrub. Severely affected trees and shrubs may become permanently disfigured or killed by heavy doses of road salt.

Certain tree varieties are more susceptible to salt damage than others. These include Red Maple, Pin Oak, Linden, Norway Spruce, Douglas Fir and White Pine tree. The damage on evergreen trees and shrubs usually occurs because the needles absorb the road salt during the winter. Deciduous trees are damaged because the salt is absorbed by the roots or the soil structure is compromised.

There are methods for decreasing the amount of road salt that accumulates in the soil. Flush the soil around the parkway trees and shrubs by heavily watering the ground using a sprinkler. 50% of the salt content in the soil is removed when 6 inches of water is added. 80% of salts can be eliminated by adding 12 inches of water. To determine how much water has been applied to the soil, set a bucket in the line of the sprinkler and watch the bucket’s water level rise.

There are a variety of preventative methods to stop damage before it starts. Click here for more information on symptoms and solutions. In addition, Kramer Tree Specialists offers an Anti-Transpirant spray that is applied before winter begins. This helps protect the evergreen’s foliage from damage caused by winter elements.

The damage caused by road salt can mimic problems caused by other issues. Contact KTS to have a Certified Arborist inspect the damage and determine its cause.

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