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How to Remove Ice Without Hurting Your Lawn or Plants

How to Remove Ice Without Hurting Your Lawn or Plants

Justin Rollin

While de-icers make the outdoors safer, they can produce the unwanted side effects of damaging grass and plants. This is because they remove the moisture from the soil and prevent it from getting to the roots.

Any grass damaged once the snow melts should be heavily neutralized, and if the damage is severe, you may need to reseed areas. However, there are measures you can take to minimize ruining your lawn and plants.

One measure you can take is to purchase one of the ice melts discussed below, which won’t kill the grass. 

Find Ice Melt Safe for Grass, Soil, Plants, & Your Garden

Calcium Magnesium Acetate

Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA) is safer for the environment because it does not contain urea, chloride, or nitrogen. Chlorine is often the main reason ice melts eat away at pavements and structures they come into contact with.

CMA is not only an ice melt that won’t kill grass but also has very low corrosive properties (roughly the same as tap water). It is available in powdered or pellet form, although pellet is preferred as it's more controllable. CMA is effective down to low temperatures of -17.5 F. 

Pelleted Fertilizers 

ice melt that won't kill grass

Fertilizers with a large dose of nitrogen can melt snow and ice on plants. Since the product is a lawn-friendly fertilizer, it will promote plant growth in Spring. However, like any fertilizers and ice melts, using too much will have the opposite effect; it’ll burn your plants and damage them.

Calcium Chloride

Is Calcium chloride good for plants? Yes, it’s an excellent, environmentally friendly option, too. It can melt ice and snow at extremely low temperatures, up to -25 °F, working faster than Potassium Chloride. In fact, when compared to similar products, it has the lowest freezing point.

When compared to other ice melts, it is less expensive than sodium acetate but pricier than other products. Yet, over the long term, it's a plant-safe ice melt with a low freezing point that leads to less vegetation damage.

Magnesium Chloride

Another popular lawn-safe ice melt is Magnesium chloride. While slightly slower acting than other ice melts, it is even less corrosive than calcium chloride and sodium chloride. Magnesium chloride works best when used between 0 °F and 30 °F and leaves less residue.

What about Kitty Litter?

While unused kitty litter absorbs moisture and provides traction on snow, slush, and ice, it’s not good at melting ice. It won’t damage concrete, but when wet it becomes incredibly lumpy and should only be used as a last resort.

Apply Chemicals in Moderation, Be Proactive, & Allow Your Lawn to Drain

You can’t just dump ice melt on your lawn and hope for the best. You have to apply it in layers, spreading it evenly on surfaces pre-storm and then during the storm. As the snow falls, the salt transforms into a brine, making it easier to shovel. Mixing ice melts with an abrasive like sand is also a good idea to reduce the amount of salt on the ground and improve traction.
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Most of us are in the Midwest, right? With that said, harsh winters come as no surprise to us. It’s long, can be brutal, and is more-or-less the same year after year. If you get your lawn ready for the season; it’ll save you time and give you peace of mind before the weather changes, and you have to deal with melting snow.

Use Your Product Before a Major Snowfall 

A common mistake people make is to apply de-icers after a snowfall. However, applying ice melts before a storm allows a brine to form when the snowfall starts and prevents ice from bonding to surfaces.

While it may not melt the ice and snow completely, this method does simplify the removal process. You won’t have to spend as much time removing stubborn ice from around your home or commercial property.

Remember, when a storm dumps snow, there is typically a thin but dangerous layer of ice that forms, which is entirely avoidable if ice melt is applied to the ground beforehand. This also makes the snow removal process safer.

Ensure Your Lawn, Garden, & Trees Have Proper Drainage

Poor drainage is often a significant cause of deicers ruining plants and lawns. Water pooling anywhere in your yard is indicative of a drainage problem. If the water pools in the flower beds, then consider adding compost, mulch, and other organic matter to improve drainage.

If there is poor drainage throughout your yard, you will need to create special drainage ditches, french ditches, or drain tiles. Another environmentally friendly drainage option is to plant vegetation that’s compatible with your soil type.

Use Burlap to Protect Trees & Your Landscape

ice melt safe for grass

Wrap your trees and plants in burlap to protect them from frost and prolonged snow exposure. Frost freezes delicate cell structures and is a known killer of fragile plants. Having a barrier between the surface of your plants and frost can be the difference between melted, long-dead landscaping and thriving, happy plants when the snow finally melts.

You should do the same for your trees, from the base of the trunk to the top. Burlap is an ideal choice because it allows plants to breathe and prevents too much heat from being trapped inside the cover, and protects them from harsh winter sunlight too.

Rinse Your Soil to Remove Rock Salt

Giving your plants a bath is an effective way to leech salt from topsoil. Assuming you have adequate drainage, you can simply water the soil beneath your trees for about an hour a week in early Spring. This washes out excess salt and fertilizer and prepares the soil for warmer temperatures.

If your soil is suffering from an over-saturation of salt, you can use gypsum (calcium sulfate) to leech the salt from it. The calcium in gypsum replaces the sodium salt in the soil. We recommend doing a soil test first to determine how much you’ll need.

A Snow & Ice-Free Lawn Is Possible; It Could Even Be Essential

In conclusion: Does ice melt kill grass? Only if you don’t take proper measures to protect your yard.

Clearing snow and ice from your lawn isn’t just for show. With proper application, you’ll actually be fertilizing your plants for Spring growth. The good news is you can use an environmentally friendly ice melt that won’t kill the grass.

Beyond that, keeping excessive wetness from melting snow off your plants also curbs any root and mold from forming. Just ensure you’re not throwing harmful salt onto your garden, and be mindful of how you apply it to your driveway because it will inevitably drain into your yard.

To put it simply, use everything in moderation to maintain a healthy landscape. And if you require products to melt the ice in your yard at low temperatures, then Ninja Deicer can help!