The weather might be unpredictable, your sidewalk shouldn't be

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 2, 2007

Darrell Blackwelder

Special to the Salisbury Post

Sidewalks, driveways and entryways were treacherous earlier this week with the icy, winter weather mix. Weather patterns over the past few years could give us more of this type of weather in the weeks ahead.

There are a few products on the market used for rapid ice melt. Ice Melt is a relatively new product that works well and is safe to use around many plant materials and turf.

Rock salt is an older product that should be applied sparingly. Avoid placement near valuable landscape materials where run-off could potentially damage woody plant material and lawns. Normally two or more light salt applications are no cause for concern. Snow, ice and normal rainfall normally leach light salt applications through the soil, preventing plant damage.

Salt damage to plants is similar to over-fertilization. Leaf margins and tips easily burn or scorch, with eventual defoliation.

Extreme salt damage manifests itself quickly, in just a few days.

Try to keep salt granules as far away from trees and shrubs as possible when applying to sidewalks or roads. Follow instructions and apply only as needed.

Sand is also an effective salt substitute.

Actually, sand does not melt ice or hard packed snow but provides traction to prevent slipping. It’s messy and somewhat unattractive. However, sand stays on the surface of the ice through its duration and is easily swept off when sidewalks dry.

Darrell Blackwelder is an extension agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Call 704-216-8970 or fax 704-216-8995.