As Central Minnesotans, we are intimately familiar with winter. Whether it is cozying in under our hand-me-down quilt, putting on more layers of clothes than our closets can handle, or making sure our sidewalks and walkways are covered in a thick glaze of salt. But some of these traditions, like spreading salt to coax the ice to let, can have negative consequences. For residential and commercial properties, winter salt can damage your landscaping and require extensive lawn care to fix.

Why We Use Winter Salt

If winter salt damages lawns for commercial and residential properties, why do we rely on it? Surely commercial and home lawn care could do without it, given the negative effects. Unfortunately, it’s because salt it great at what it does.

Salting steps and sidewalks is a wonderful way to prevent the surfaces from becoming slippery due to ice buildup. Even the most diligent homeowners and caretakers easily lose interest in the monotony of chipping away ice patches. It is far easier to sprinkle some salt on problem areas and encourage ice to melt. Salt is the most popular of ice melt products, because of its cost and effectiveness.           

Modern Minnesota climates seem to require even more salt, with the frequent shift in temperature between frigid and just warm enough to melt. Due to this, it is important to know the effects that salt and de-icing solutions can have on your lawn. While salt is an integral part of winter walkway maintenance, its effects can linger long into the summer.

Part of winter lawn care is monitoring your lawn for salt damage. Adjusting your use and keeping an eye on problem areas will make all the difference when thaw comes. But how can you know what to look for?

Winter Lawn Care Warning Signs

Salt can have a variety of effects, but the most obvious sign is brown grass near the salted areas. Due its chemical nature, salt is terrible for vegetation; by both dehydrating the plants and interfering with its ability to adequately photosynthesize light, it is easy to see how this one-two salt punch can have dire consequences for your lawn.

The effects of winter salt on your lawn are quite common to see along the edges of pathways, and if these persist along the entirety of a walkway, it can be a sign of oversalting.

Tips to Avoid Salt Damage

An easy way to avoid salt damage to your lawn is to not use salt. There are a variety of alternative de-icing products available. As Minnesotans, however, we must be aware of temperature thresholds: the temperature above which these products work. Minnesota’s temperatures can fall well below the threshold for most common deicers. Additionally, where you place removed snow should also be considered, because shoveling or blowing snow can also transport the salt too. 

Another simple way to prevent ice from affecting your lawn is to include buffer landscaping between your walkways and lawns. While these hardscapes can add challenges to removing snow, their benefits to your lawn can be significant. Even switching to a friction alternative rather than a deicer can help, since Minnesota winters reach frigid temperatures far below the use temperatures of most de-icing products, this can be a great way to ensure your steps and walkways remain safe throughout the winter months.

Need more tips for winter lawn maintenance? Contact us for answers. You can rely on Land Concepts for any help you need with winter’s problems. We offer winter landscaping and hardscaping help, along with commercial snow removal to keep your business looking great.