Salt Damage
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Look for it along walks, driveways, and roads

Look for bare spots or invasion by salt- and compaction-tolerant weeds along sidewalks, driveways, and roadsides. Soil is sometimes covered with white or yellow crust. Sodium chloride (salt) used for de-icing causes the problem.

Salt damage is often compounded by compaction from foot traffic, auto tires, and piled snow. Even if the damage is not enough to kill sod, it increases stress on the grass, making it more prone to diseases and weed competition. Weak turf in these areas is especially vulnerable to runoff into storm sewers and surface waters.

Kentucky bluegrass is very sensitive to salt damage. Perennial ryegrass, fine fescues, and tall fescue are more tolerant.

To prevent salt damage, avoid plowing or shoveling salt-laden snow onto turf. Apply only enough salt to do the job after you remove the snow. Calcium chloride-based de-icing salts don't cause as much damage as sodium chloride.

Even though it's often suggested, do not use urea or other fertilizers as de-icing salts. They can run off when snow melts and pollute surface and ground waters.

Spring rains may leach salts from the soil if drainage is adequate. If it's dry, you may need to water by hand to flush them out.

If soil is poorly drained, improve it by mixing in organic matter to a depth of 6 inches, or remove soil and replace it with fresh topsoil and reseed. Improve soil before reseeding because salt can prevent germination and damage seedlings.

Salt Damage