Ice melt can be harmful to plants - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Ice melt can be harmful to plants

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

You might be throwing more salt to crack the ice this week, but that salt could potentially damage your plants.

Horticulturist Patrick O'Malley with Iowa State University Extension says sodium chloride (salt) is detrimental to the soil structure and prevents plants like trees, shrubs or perennials from getting the moisture they need.

He says the plants suffer, and you probably won't notice until the spring or summer months.

"What happens is when you get too much salt in the soil, the plants can't, when they start growing again, absorb water well enough when it's too high of a salt content," said O'Malley. "They have what's called physiological drought, although there may be plenty of water available, the plant can't get to it."

O'Malley says if you have to use salt, try to remove as much as possible or flush it away with water.

He says try using sand. Although it won't melt the ice, it helps with traction and won't damage plants.

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