Salt used on icy roads poses threat to street trees

Street trees are at risk of salt damage if grit is used excessively during the extended winter freeze, according to an arboriculture expert.

The worst damage is likely to be to trees on pavements where there has been increased gritting by homeowners, explained Arboricultural Advisory and Information Service director Derek Patch.

"There could potentially be a massive hit of salt into the soil as the snow thaws," said Patch, who will send out an advisory note on the problem to around 1,200 arboriculturists this week.

"I am very concerned about this and it's impossible to say how many trees could be affected, but one of the worst species for dealing with salt in the soil seems to be the London plane."

Patch explained that the main problem was grit being scattered on pavements using shovels. In addition, snow that was scraped and shovelled up around trees would cause issues, he added.

Arboricultural Association director Nick Eden agreed that the gritting issue was a major concern."It does cause a lot of damage to trees especially in pedestrian areas because people usually apply the salt by hand and put down far more than is necessary," he said.

He added that cedar trees were most at risk of damage from snowfall because of their horizontal branches and evergreen leaves.

"The branches get weighed down by the snow. In some instances, the tree branch is supporting twice its usual weight."


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