February 2018

Deicers can damage plants, concrete

Protect plants from ice melt products. (C) Fotolia

Protect plants from ice melt products. (C) Fotolia

Ice melts or deicers make the sidewalk, driveway and porch step safe in bad weather, but some may be deadly to landscape plants. Some also may damage concrete.

Five chemicals are used to make deicers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride or salt, potassium chloride, urea and calcium magnesium acetate. The chlorides are salt like products, which can react adversely with concrete, causing it to crack and discolor. Chemically damaged plants may have dried branches or tips. Which ever product you select, please read and follow the label directions.

* Calcium chloride, when used properly, will not likely harm plants. However, if used incorrectly or over applied, it will harm plant roots.

* Salt can damage plants, soil and metal. Salts sprayed from road traffic also can damage plants. Salt spray that lands on branches or stems and evergreens may cause excessive drying. Salts can change the chemical balance of the soil and can accumulate to toxic levels.

* Potassium chloride is another salt like product, which may injure plants when splashed on leaves and may damage the roots of plants.

* Urea is a fertilizer, however it can contaminate the soil and surface water runoff with nitrates. If overused, urea can damage plants.

* Calcium magnesium acetate is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, the main compound in vinegar. Unlike other materials, CMA does not form a salt like brine. Instead, it prevents snow particles from sticking to each other on surfaces. This product is not considered hazardous to plants or concrete.

The best way to keep surfaces free of ice is to sweep or shovel away the snow.  However, be careful not to dump salt-treated snow or ice on the lawn or other plants. Alternatives to chemical ice melts include clean, non-clumping kitty litter, saw dust, coffee grounds or sand. Be careful about tracking these products indoors.

1 comment to Deicers can damage plants, concrete

  • […] gnaw the roots then trees and shrubs are exposed to diseases. Control. In most cases control of …Deicers can damage plants, concrete | Hoosier GardenerHoosier Gardener – Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Ice melts or deicers make the sidewalk, driveway and porch […]