Yes, Salt Damages Your Plants (Here’s How To Save Them!)

With the recently warm days, us environmental geeks are happily spending more time outside. This is all exciting, of course, but everything is fun and games until our trees & shrubs get hurt… which has likely happened if deicing rock salt has been used near landscapes this winter.

At RTEC, safety is our top priority. Still, the fact remains that the deicing rock salt used to protect your loved ones from slippery conditions is the same salt that has dissolved in the soil, trunk, branches, and leaves of your plants and damaged them.

Lucky for you, we have some advice that can help the plants in your landscape heal and flourish this spring. And since we have most likely experienced the last snow of the year (keep your fingers crossed, spring fanatics) and warmer weather is on its way to stay, now is a great time to start fixing the salt damage that was done to your plants this winter.


Has Salt Damaged Your Plants?

If you have evergreens, you may have already started seeing signs of salt injury; however, if you have deciduous trees it’s possible you won’t be able to see damage until growth continues in the spring.

Here are common warning signs that salt may have damaged your plants:

  • Damage mostly on the side of the tree facing roads, sidewalk, and driveway
  • Browning or discoloration of needles beginning at tips
  • Marginal Leaf Burn: Browning or discoloration along the edges of leaves.
  • Fewer and/or smaller leaves than normal
  • Flower and fruit development delayed/smaller than normal
  • Bud damage/death
  • Twig dieback
  • Delayed bud break
  • Reduced plant vigor
  • Discolored foliage
  • Early leaf drop or premature fall color

Have you noticed any of these symptoms in your plants? Now that you know, you can keep these preventative solutions in mind for next year.


Salt Damage On Tree plants treated by biostimulants
Introducing Bio-Stimulants Into The Soil

How To Fix Salt Damaged Trees & Shrubs

When salt damages plants, it can often come as a shock; the thought of rock salt damaging landscapes doesn’t typically cross people’s minds.

But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to help your plants recover from salt damage.

Rinse The Plant: Rinse your tree’s trunk and your shrubs’ branches with water. This will remove whatever road salt/ice melt is on them. If you have evergreens, don’t forget to rinse their leaves.

Rinse The Soil: Often, road salt will be absorbed into the soil. To keep your plants from absorbing road salt chemicals all spring and summer, you need to flush out their soil. Water your trees and shrubs thoroughly to accomplish this. If there is any visible road salt, you can pick up, pick it up and throw it in the trash before you start to flush out the soil.

Lightly Prune: Remove dead twigs and needles from salt-damaged trees to help them start spring healthier & happier.


One of the best ways to help salt damaged trees & shrubs is by fertilizing them with biostimulants. They’re like multivitamins, but for plants – plus they’re all-natural and environmentally friendly!

Better yet, you can guide your plants to optimal health by signing up for our Canopy Protection Program. The program not only includes biostimulant treatments, but comprehensive solutions, all customized to your landscape’s needs.

By teaming up with your Certified Arborist, you won’t only be able to fight against the damage salt has caused to your plants, you’ll be able to help your plants reach their optimal health.  

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