It’s not easy coming up with lawn care topics when most of the country is covered in snow! But I have a good one for you… When you’re applying rock salt this winter to melt snow and ice on walkways and driveways, take care not to get it on your lawn – it can actually kill your grass.
The good news is, you can repair it!
The sodium in salt draws the liquid out of grass plants and then salinates the plant cells, causing it to turn brown and die. Salt also affects the pH of soil and can create an unsuitable environment for grass plants to grow. So, as always, start with the soil. You can neutralize the pH by treating only the affected area with granular lime or liquid calcium. Start with a small amount and add more if necessary. If you’re unsure, get a soil test done and get recommendations on the desired pH level for your region.
If the grass is totally dead, re-seed the area with an organic fertilizer and water it lightly. Don’t mow the area until it has several inches of growth and the roots have had an opportunity to deepen.
Of course, prevention is best, but you may not have any control over city services that apply salt on sidewalks or de-icer on roadways. If you do get salt on the lawn, you’ll know it as soon as the snow melts. The edges near walkways and roads will be more yellow or brown than the rest of the lawn. If this is the case, act fast! The sooner you can mitigate the effects on salt on your grass, the less damage there will be.
Just because salt is a grass killer doesn’t mean it’s all evil. You can actually use it to your advantage in spring and summer to remove weeds and grass growing in sidewalk cracks and other isolated areas. Salt is a natural herbicide, you just have to make sure you don’t apply to areas that you want to stay green!