In moderation, salt is good for people. Your grass, on the other hand, doesn't tolerate salt as well. What seems like a small amount of salt on grass can spell ruin for your lawn, no matter what type of salt it is. Fortunately, there are ways to reverse the effects of salt should this happen.
What Salt Does
Salt is a desiccant, or a drying substance. It removes moisture from substances it comes in contact with, such as the grass in your lawn. This drying property makes salt deadly to microorganisms that convert nitrogen into ammonia, which your grass needs to grow. When you pour table salt on grass, a dead spot forms where the salt fell.
Avoiding Salt Damage
Avoid salt damage by keeping all types of salt off your lawn. This includes salts used to de-ice walkways and driveways, though these cause less damage than table salt, according to the Department of Horticulture at Cornell University. Avoid commercial pesticides because, according to the University of California, they contain salt.
If you get salt on your lawn, you can undo the damage. First, remove as much as the salt as possible, by hand or using a broom and dustpan. Then, horticulturist Ron Smith of North Dakota State University suggests flooding the spot with water three times to dilute the salt.
Certain grass varieties are more tolerant to salt, and are less likely to die should you get it on your lawn. They include bermudagrass, tall fescue and Fults alkaligrass. Plant these if you're concerned about getting salt on your lawn.
- Colorado State University; Growing Turf on Salt-Affected Sites; C.E. Swift et al.; May 2010
- North Dakota State University; Questions on: Lawn/Grasses; Ron Smith
- University of California; Lawn Pesticides; Chris Syrengelas; June 1997
- Cornell University; Salt Damage; October 2010
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Q and A: Killing Weeds with Salt; July 2007