Vegetation – Effects of Deicers


Deicers are known for having the potential to cause damage to vegetation. Most deicers claim they are safe for use around grass and plants, although research shows that deicers can cause damage to vegetation. This is consistent with what we have learned in our over 30 years of experience in ice melt distribution. We have also learned that vegetation damage can be kept minimal and even avoided by implementing a good deicer application procedure.

Below are some pictures of test plots from a two year study on The Effects of De-icing Chemicals on Turfgrass by the Horticultural Department at Iowa State University.

Winter Green

Potassium Chloride


Rock Salt

Safe Step

Calcium Chloride

This study shows how deicers can cause turf damage. It also shows that Wintergreen® has a noticeable benefit to the turfgrass. The Iowa State University Study demonstrated that the extent of damage to the turfgrass was proportional to the amount of deicer that it received.

The study agrees with our finding that proper application of deicer can significantly help prevent damage to vegetation. Here are some points that can help bring this about.

Key Points to Help Ensure Proper Deicer Application

  1. Deicer Effectiveness - All deicers are not equal. Some require greater amounts to clear the ice than others, especially in colder temperatures. Choose a deicer that melts ice effectively. Doing this will help ensure its proper application, while maintaining safety. Lab tests showing the effectiveness of deicers are available. Contact us for details.
  2. Coverage Indicator - Coverage indicator is coloring on the product which makes it distinctively visible. Clearly seeing the how the product is “going down” greatly helps control its application rate. Coverage indicator also shows more noticeably that the service of applying deicer has been performed.
  3. Proper Equipment - Equipment is available that can help ensure the proper application of deicer. There are spreaders that have adjustable rate settings as well as shields, which allow for the product to be applied at the desired rate on the pavement, and out of the grass. A good spreader can pay for itself by making the deicer go farther. Our spreader page shows a spreader with shields and adjustable rate settings.

We have found that implementing these points in the application of deicer greatly helps in preventing turfgrass and vegetation damage. Feel free to contact us for further help and information on this issue.