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Garden Tip: Plant-friendly ice melters are effective

Use ice melters sparingly because they can harm plants. |  Sun-Times Medifile photo

Use ice melters sparingly because they can harm plants. | Sun-Times Media file photo

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:29AM

The snow has finally arrived, and with it, often comes ice. Keeping paths, steps and porches free of ice is an important safety measure, but not all ice-melting products are plant friendly.

Rock salt, or sodium chloride, is our most common product, but it’s extremely harmful to plant material and can impact your soil health. Look for products made with calcium or magnesium chloride that are still effective, but much more plant friendly.

In each case, less is more, so only use de-icing chemicals in small areas. You can add extra traction and extend the product by mixing it with sand.

Try to avoid piling salt-laden snow around trees or shrubs. If it can’t be avoided, make sure to thoroughly water the area in the spring to wash the product out of the soil and the root zones.

Garden Tip is courtesy of Heather Prince, The Growing Place, 630-355-4000,

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