What Does Salt Do to Your Grass?

Salt is naturally present in soils and is usually found in small amounts, particularly with regular fertilization. In small quantities, salt poses no risk to your lawn. However, over time, salt can accumulate to levels that create a toxic environment for your grass, leading to damage.

Most lawn fertilizers, including granular and liquid fertilizers, contain salt, accumulating in the soil with repeated application. Coastal lawns frequently experience elevated soil salinity due to salty irrigation water or saltwater intrusion. In regions with winter snow, rock salt is usually used to melt ice on roads, driveways, and sidewalks, leading to runoff into nearby soil and increased salt concentrations. These factors contribute to the gradual buildup of salt in the soil, which can be detrimental to grass growth.

Salt Damage to Grass

High levels of sodium in the soil prevent plants from effectively absorbing nutrients and retaining moisture. Salt spray on grass blades can also lead to burns. When salt is absorbed into the soil, it can dry out the roots, making them more susceptible to diseases and less resistant to drought and other weather conditions.

Lack of Moisture

Salt draws moisture away from the soil, depriving the grass of the water it needs for growth. This can result in dehydration, nutrient deficiency, stunted growth, and ultimately, the death of your grass. Additionally, direct contact with salt can extract moisture from grass blades, causing burns and leaving them brown and withered.


Salt can also render the soil toxic by disrupting the balance of essential nutrients necessary for plant growth. When salt dissolves in water, it breaks down into basic ions. At molecular levels, these ions can block the roots from absorbing calcium, potassium, and magnesium and absorb chloride instead. Excess chloride can affect the plant's ability to photosynthesize — the process of converting sunlight into energy. This nutrient imbalance can starve your lawn and, eventually, wither your grass.


How to Prevent Salt Damage to Grass

There is always a small amount of salt in the soil, and its level increases with the regular application of lawn fertilizer. The salt will remain in the soil for years unless flushed away through rainwater or irrigation. Until then, elevated levels of sodium chloride can pose challenges for growing new plants.

Water Thoroughly

If you suspect salt damage in your lawn, you can send soil samples for testing to confirm the salinity levels. In cases of high salinity, the best course of action is to water your lawn thoroughly to leach the sodium out of the soil. Daily soaking can effectively drain the salt below the root levels, preventing further damage due to salt accumulation.

Fertilize Your Soil

Deep, prolonged watering to remove salt from your lawn can also wash away nutrients from the soil. It presents an opportunity to follow up with a fertilizer application to replenish the lost nutrients and ensure your grass has the necessary nutrients to recover after the process.

Repair Salt Damage

When damage to your lawn from salt is minimal, you can let the grass recover on its own, as healthy grass should naturally fill in the problem area over time. However, if the damage is more extensive or if you prefer to accelerate the recovery process, you can patch it with grass plugs. These solutions offer several benefits, such as faster establishment and requiring less water to establish than grass seed. They also serve as effective weed control, allowing you to effectively restore your lawn to its healthy, green state.

Plant Salt-Tolerant Grass Plugs

Choosing salt-tolerant grass plug varieties, such as warm-season types like Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine, is a great way to maintain a healthy lawn in challenging environments, such as those with high salinity. These grasses also possess other desirable qualities for a low-maintenance lawn, such as heat and drought tolerance.


Fertilize Grass Plugs with NutriPod®

To repair salt-damaged grass, start by raking the affected area to remove dead grass and loosen the soil, preparing it for transplanting grass plugs. Water your lawn to make the soil easier to work with. Then, use a grass plug tool to dig holes, spacing them 9-12 inches apart for uniformity.

Supplement your grass plugs with NutriPod®, a granular fertilizer with a balance of essential nutrients for faster and more successful establishment. Unlike liquid lawn fertilizers, it is designed to gradually release nutrients into the soil to prevent leaching and damage to the grass. Its effects can last up to 45 days. Ensure to work each pod into the soil to ensure immediate access to the roots.

For post-plugging care, water your lawn daily or as necessary to keep the top few inches of soil consistently moist for the next two weeks. Applying a thin layer of mulch can help retain moisture in the soil. Materials like peat moss can also help in suppressing weed growth. Wait to mow until the grass reaches a height of 3 to 4 inches, indicating that the roots have successfully adapted to their new environment. Premature mowing can dislodge the newly established roots, hindering the recovery process.

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