Posts Tagged ‘plants’

Using salt on roadways and sidewalks has become a common practice of improving the safety conditions of travel during snow and ice storms. Unfortunately, this practice can induce unfavorable horticultural conditions once winter has ended. This article will explain why salt can damage live plants and list several salt-tolerant plants that are recommended by William Quinn and Sons, Inc.

Salt damage conditions can easily be confused with drought and scorch stress. The reason being: salt attracts moisture, keeping the live plants and grass from getting the nourishment they need. These affects are visible in early spring, before drought conditions are even an issue.

There are, however, plants that are able to more easily withstand salt damage and can be more safely planted near roadways. They are:

– Birches
– Honeysuckle
– Spruces
– White and Red Oak
– Poplars and Aspens
– Vanhoutte’s Spirea

On the other hand, the following plants are NOT very salt resistant and should not be planted near roadways where they may be doused with calcium:

– Red and Sugar Maples
– Most pines and firs
– Burning bush
– Dogwoods
– Lindens
– Yews
– Viburnums

Spring is often cool and wet with snow common until April. Spring can be so wet, in fact, that planting is delayed, or so cool that leaf budding may not occur until the end of April. Summers in Illinois are typically warm with temperatures in the 80’s, 90’s and even occasionally reaching 100 degrees. Typical rainfall averages are approximately 3 inches per month throughout the summer. Fall can be the most beautiful season of the year in Illinois. Temperatures are generally moderate in the 60’s and 70’s in the early fall. By late November, daytime temperatures average in the mid to upper 30’s. Drought is not uncommon, and the first measurable snow usually appears by mid October.

Winter weather varies in Illinois. During some years, there is little snow with moderate temperatures; other years see the extreme opposite. A normal Chicago-land winter sees an average of three feet of snow and temperatures as low as minus 10 degrees. The growing season in Northern Illinois is approximately 150 days and the average date of the first frost is October 20th.

That is a typical year in Illinois. As everyone is well aware, 2005 was anything but typical. Spring of 2005 was unusually dry. As summer approached, the temperatures continued to climb and the lack of rain significantly added to the problem. As of Mid-March this year, we are 11.3 inches below normal snow accumulations. The effects of last year’s drought, however, may not be apparent for another 5 years. I have seen more sudden death of shrubs than ever before. Water bans made it nearly impossible to keep up with landscaping requests. Large areas of turf all over Illinois show various signs of drought damage. The experts are predicting a wetter and colder than normal season (Although they predicted record high snowfall this year, and it did not happen).

The question we are asked most these days is “When and where do we start with restoring damaged plants and turf from the drought?” The answer is the following: it is still early in the season. The first step is to identify and slit seed all turf areas that have been affected. After the trees and shrubs bud out (late April, early May – weather depending), we will be able to identify any dead or damaged plant material. Usually Spring or Fall is the ideal time to replace these plants, but if we do not receive the amount of rain that we desperately need, planting should be put on hold for areas that do not have automatic sprinklers or irrigation.