Don’t prune those roses now

Tree icicles are seen in the D.C. region. (Courtesy Mike McGrath)

Editor’s note: Mike will speak at the Green Spring Gardens EcoSavvy Symposium at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Feb 22. On Sunday, he’ll make appearances at the Capital Home & Garden Show at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Out of rock salt? Your plants thank you

Time to review the rules of proper ice melting. Hopefully, many of you were able to stockpile one of the alternative de-icers, such as calcium chloride, back when I suggested it in the fall, long before we found out what it’s like to live through a winter in Wisconsin!

If you didn’t, and can’t find any kind of de-icer in the stores, use sand to make icy surfaces less slippery. Play sand, all-purpose sand and lava sand all make icy surfaces safe and do absolutely no harm to nearby lawns or landscape plants. In fact, sand is good for your soil.

Kitty litter also works well, but it’s messy, so make sure to remove or clean your shoes before you walk on any nice surfaces inside.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to use rock salt. Local lawns are already getting too much of that non-nutrient from road crews.

Protect your lawn and landscape from road salt

Local road crews have had no choice this winter. They’ve had to spread record amounts of salt to try and keep area roadways as safe as possible. But that salt will take a toll on our plants, especially lawns and landscapes that “receive” salty snow as it’s plowed off the road.

To minimize the damage come spring, don’t shovel salted snow onto your lawn. But DO shovel clean snow onto your lawn

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