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Winter 2009 / 2010

Road Salt Problems
Preventing Damage to Our Plants

De-icing salts are used in mass amounts in New England due to the snow and ice that accumulate on our roads and walkways.  These salts, though effective in keeping us from slipping and sliding, can cause severe damage to our landscape plants by altering the growing environment.  The plants are disrupted directly by the spray of the salt, as well as the accumulation of it in the soil, and indirectly by weakening the plant.  Since it is  not practical to stop using de-icing salts, we must find a way to to keep this from becoming a problem.

Salt spray damage from passing cars usually will go unnoticed until Spring, when the plant comes out of dormancy.  Deciduous trees show signs, when the tips of twigs and bud will die.  Also, a condition known as "witches broom" will occur, where a cluster of twigs will grow at the end of branches.  Evergeens will turn brown, or will shows signs of fading color.  

Salt accumulation in the soil will cause the plants to appear stunted, slow growing and leaf scorch, or drop.  The damage may take years to become visible as salt slowly build up to toxic levels after repeated use.  The most problematic times of the year are when we need to use salts in March and October, when the ground is not frozen and plants are still taking up the water and salt solution.  

Salt Damage Prevention

1. Mix salt with sand, or other non-toxic material.

2. Use salt tolerant plants as a buffer for prized ornamentals.

3. Raise planting beds near salted areas.

4. Use mechanical screens such as snow fences, plywood or burlap.

5. Rinse off foliage of plants early in the Spring, and water deeply to fluch salt through the root zone.

Avoid Cabin Fever This Winter!

How to get out of the house

1. New England Grows  -  February 3 - 5, 2010

Over 700 exhibiting companies and speakers on many topics in the horticultural industry.  Located in Boston, MA at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.  It's a great place to see the latest products and inspire new ideas!  

www.newenglandgrows.org

2. Portland Flower Show  -  March 10 - 14, 2010

Get into Spring by visiting this show!  Meet and talk with local companies and see the eloaborate displays!

www.portlandcompany.com/flower

3. Portland Pirates Hockey!

Head on out the the Portland Civic Center this winter to see some hard-hitting AHL hockey.  These players are just one step away from the NHL and are fun to watch. 

www.portlandpirates.com

4. Maine Red Claws Basketball

Come and see tommorow's Celtics today!  The Celtics and Bobcats development team has arrived in Portland.   A great family night out at the Portland Expo.

www.nba.com/dleague/maine


 

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