Post-winter car Care
What happens to your lawn when the snow melts? After your celebratory dance for impending spring is over, it’s time to consider what your lawn went through during this unusually long, cold, snowy, and icy winter. Understanding winter’s impact, and the best way to rehab your lawn this spring, is crucial to getting your lawn healthy, green and ready for this summer’s BBQs.
Winter salting can sow summer discontent
Even Maine’s most veteran Winter Warriors were surprised at the power of Mother Nature this season. The scraping sounds of passing plow trucks became the soundtrack of an unrelenting and brutal winter. In order to keep our feet and our car wheels from slipping out from under us, rock salt (a.k.a. “road salt”) and other ice-melting materials were needed. And while our driveways and roads require a decent coating of ice melting agents to do the job of keeping us safer, last winter, with its many mixed precipitation events required even more than usual.
The downside is that winter road salt and de-icing agents can be especially tough on summer lawns. The chemical run-off from roads, driveways and sidewalks can burn adjacent grass and harm other vegetation. If you are de-icing your own driveway, you can do your part to minimize the damage in a few ways. Here are some tips:
- Use calcium magnesium acetate products. Considered to be “no more corrosive than normal tap water”, it is a “greener”, more lawn and garden friendly ice-melting alternative.
- Avoid rock salt (sodium chloride) — or use it very sparingly.
- Don’t use urea or other fertilizers as de-icing salts. They can pollute surface and ground waters when the snow melts into run-off.
- Consider plastic fencing, snow fencing, or burlap screens to protect your yard from snow buildup and salt spray in high-traffic areas.
- Minimize (or avoid) shoveling or plowing salted snow onto the lawn.
Beyond your control is the impact of state, county and municipal snowplow trucks that utilize salt or salt spray for snow removal. Once the grass cells absorb the spray, the chloride can interfere with chlorophyll production and photosynthesis. It can also dry out and/or burn the grass blades. Most salt damage occurs within 60 feet of the roadway due to the salt-laced spray or salt mixed with snow, slush and water splashed on to your lawn from the plows, other passing vehicles, and snow throwers. And salting in late winter and early spring can be even more damaging to your lawns since the roots are just starting to pop up from a long dormancy and are looking for water. One way you can protect your lawn areas closest to the road next winter is by planting salt-tolerant grass this growing season.
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