Minimizing the Damage Caused by Rock Salt this Winter

While rock salt is a safe solution for icy walking surfaces, it can have negative impacts on your property that you work so hard to keep in good condition. Find out more about how to be mindful of the damage caused by salt on your driveway, lawn, and landscaping as well as how to minimize the negative consequences of using it.

How does rock salt affect my driveway, lawn, and landscaping?

Rock salt is a type of sodium chloride that is predominantly used during winter months to melt snow and ice off of roads, driveways, sidewalks, etc. Sure, it serves a great purpose, but it can also cause significant harm, especially to driveways, lawns, and landscaping. 


Driveways are typically made of concrete or asphalt – both of which can be negatively affected by corrosive rock salts.

Concrete and asphalt are porous materials. When water gets absorbed into one of these materials, it can easily get trapped inside. Trapped water can then freeze and expand, which will lead to cracking and chipping. Rock salt will accelerate that freezing/thawing cycle, inevitably resulting in more significant cracking and damage to your driveway.


When rock salts begin to sink into your lawns, that is when the danger begins. Rock salts will kill the roots of a plant and destroy patches of your grass once the salts dissolve into the soil. 


Rock salt can also be damaging to your landscapes and plants. When a heavy snowstorm hits, your piles of shoveled snow will sit on your lawn, landscaped areas, flowerbeds, etc. The salt build up from those piles will start to suffocate your plants. You certainly don’t want to find dead or dying plants when spring arrives, but that could happen if your plants are trapped under giant piles of snow and ice. 

How can I minimize these impacts?

There are several ways you can reduce the damage from rock salt during the winter months. Protect your driveways, lawns, and landscapes by trying one or more of the following suggestions this season:

  • Use an alternative solution
    • Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride are great substitutions for rock salt. They are not quite as harsh, but they produce similar results.
    • Another alternative is an Ice Melt mix, which is a combination of sodium, calcium, and magnesium chloride pellets. Since this mix only contains a small portion of rock salt, it is not quite as harmful, but it still melts ice quickly. 
  • Change up your shoveling routine
    • Shoveling MORE snow will reduce the need to use as much rock salt solution in general. Consider shoveling your driveways and pathways more consistently throughout the season. 
    • Sorting your snow piles into various locations is also a smart move. Piling snow in different places will reduce the amount of rock salt buildup in one location.  
    • Plastic snow shovels will also cause less damage than metal ones! 
  • Look into protection options
    • If your driveway contains numerous or significant cracks, you may want to look into sealing your driveway to protect it from further damage. 
    • Stock up on Gypsum! Gypsum is a solution that improves water infiltration in soil. This product will help move salt away from the roots of your grass and plants, reduce erosion, and improve the ability for soil to drain so that it won’t become clogged. 
    • You can also consider installing a heating system below your driveway to reduce the need of rock salts and shoveling altogether. This may be a good option if you are planning on installing an entirely new driveway in your future. 
  • Water your driveways, lawns, and landscape areas when spring arrives
    • When the warm weather hits, be sure to give your driveway a thorough watering to remove as much of the lingering rock salt as you can. Do the same for your lawn and your affected landscape areas. 

We hope some of these suggestions will help you protect your property this season. Damage from rock salt is no joke!

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