How to Avoid Ice-Melt Damage to Your Lawn & Garden

ice melts

Editor’s Note: Last Updated 12/30/2014

When it comes to wintry weather in the Kansas City area, it is not uncommon for snow and ice to be in the forecast. While it is important to keep walkways clear and safe, have you ever considered what ice-melt and other products can do to your home’s lawn and garden? Consider using these tips from Heritage Lawns & Irrigation to help prevent ice-melt damage!

Minimize Risk of Plant and Lawn Damage with These Tips

Wintry weather and the need for safe walkways mean many people will add ice-melt products to their sidewalks and driveways. There are basically two types of ice-melt products – salt and urea (nitrogen used in fertilizer but at higher concentrations). Both can be hazardous to grass and plants when not used properly. To minimize the risk of damage, there are a few actions you can take.

  • Don’t over-salt. Follow label directions exactly
  • Avoid using rock salt in extreme cold as it only works down to about 15 degrees.
  • Use de-icing agents like calcium-chloride or calcium magnesium acetate in extreme cold.
  • Put the product down before the precipitation. It’s easier to prevent ice than to get rid of it.
  • Shovel ice and snow as soon as possible and try to keep surfaces clear to avoid re-applying.
  • Knock chemicals off of plants and rinse them once or twice during milder winter weather.
  • In extreme cold, sprinkle water lightly over the surface to help increase effectiveness.
  • Erect barriers like fencing or burlap to protect delicate plants.

Advice from President of Heritage Lawns & Irrigation

Wes Ory, President of Heritage Lawns & Irrigation says, “The biggest problem we see is that people think ice-melt should melt the ice completely so they keep applying the product over and over. The purpose of ice melt is to melt the bottom layer of ice so that it doesn’t stick to the surface and can be more easily shoveled off.” To reduce the use of product and still have safe walkways, Wes suggests sprinkling kitty litter on top to make better traction until the ice melt has a chance to work and you can shovel the area clean.