Keeping plants alive despite winter salt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This winter, crews have been busy salting the roadways to keep drivers safe during snowy and icy conditions. The rock salt used by trucks, however, can be deadly for plants and grass.

Horticulturalist Bryan Hobby at Soil Service in Kansas City says salt keeps plants from soaking up water and can also deplete nutrients in the soil.

Hobby suggests trying a Urea nitrogen fertilizer on your driveway, sidewalk and front entrance to your home. It will melt the ice, but will turn into fertilizer once it gets into your grass.

He also suggests trying a blue-colored ice melt, which may also be helpful because you can see it and pick up any chunks that fall into your grass.

If you already have salt inside of your vegetation, try sprinkling some gypsum on top of the grass and plants. It will keep the salt from sticking to your plants and getting down into the roots.

Hobby's best advice: "Shovel off all the snow, get it all off there as best you can and use as little ice melt as you can. Go with the minimum amount, check for damage in the spring, then add gypsum and hope for the best."

And if all this talk about winter woes is giving you spring fever, Hobby says you are not alone.

"These off and on warm days make everyone think of spring immediately and then it gets back to being cold and we are like ‘ugh.' Another month and we'll be ready to go," he said with a chuckle.

Hobby also suggests winter watering to keep your plants and grass in top shape.

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