12 Ways a Professional Landscaper in Pensacola Can Protect Your Property from Salt Damage
Living in a coastal city, such as Pensacola FL, is not as easy as it seems. Sure, the weather is warm almost all the time (averages 80 degrees the whole year), but there are additional challenges that any homeowner will find unique to their situation.
On top of the usual hurricanes and coastal storms, people have to worry about how their lawns will survive the extreme condition of being so near the sea.
There are many reasons why it's so difficult to maintain plants on your property, especially if they are outdoors. That raises a lot of problems when you're planning on doing some landscaping, maintaining the plants you already have, or both.
To begin, it's vital to know the reasons for those difficulties and how to lessen their impact on your property.
The Negative Effects on Your Lawn
It's hard enough to maintain a lawn in normal circumstances but put in the unique conditions present in a coastal area and you've got a problem. However, there are ways to lessen the impact of these conditions, as we will discuss later. Here are a few negative effects worth mentioning.
- Storm Damage - It goes without saying that the powerful winds of a hurricane can cause a lot of damage to any tree, bush, or shrub in your garden. Hurricane-force winds can reach speeds in excess of 155 mph. That can uproot trees, damage plants, and devastate flower gardens. When a tropical storm is about to hit, make sure your landscape is hurricane-proof by having your trees braced with supports (even wind-resistant trees), your garden covered, and your lawn sufficiently prepared for floods.
- Difficulty When Using Non-Native Plants - Even if you do not live in Pensacola or any coastal city, using plants that are not native to your area is not a wise thing to do. Sure, they sometimes grow and thrive, but the chances of them dying are greater. Using native plants will ensure greater success for you in maintaining your lawn or garden.
- Erosion Damage - Because of the storms and heavy rain, there's a constant threat of flooding in coastal areas. Your outdoor space should be protected from erosion and excess water.
Homeowners living around the Gulf Coast know how salt spray can affect their ability to have a well-maintained lawn. It's almost impossible to keep your garden and outdoor spaces salt-free, especially in Pensacola, FL.
Some of the damage that can be done to your property is as follows:
- Plant Dehydration - Just like in humans, excess salt is very dangerous to plants. It can cause leaf drop, leaf burn, or death for a plant. The strong winds in coastal cities carry the salt-rich air far inland and leave droplets of them on plants. If you don't have salt-tolerant plants, you can kiss your beautiful landscape goodbye.
- Salt vs Grass - If your lawn grass is brown and not green, that means it already died. Besides, salt spray isn't the only cause of salt-damaged grass. Salts used for de-icing roads (e.g., rock salt or sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium chloride) also kill plants very easily.
- Salt vs Wood - If you have wooden patios, that's bad. Salty water can cause wood to swell and rot. And, although rain is fresh water, the salty water vapor will mix with it and deposit lots of salt on your gorgeous wooden panels, possibly destroying them beyond repair.
- Salt vs pavers - Pavers are generally immune to this kind of damage since they are stone, but the mortar between them is prone to salt erosion and breakage. Once the mortar is eroded by the salt, water seeps in, causing even more damage.
- Salt vs Poolside Finishes - Tiles are particularly vulnerable to salt erosion. Once the salt penetrates pool tiles and makes them brittle, they become more prone to stains and other water damage.
However, there are things a professional landscaper in Pensacola can do to save you from thousands of dollars worth of damage to your lawn and landscape.
1. Using Salt-Resistant Plants
To save you from future problems, your landscaper can use salt-resistant native plants. Perennials and Annuals are particularly good to use in these situations.
- Blanket Flower or Firewheel
- Beach Evening Primrose
- Seaside Goldenrod
- Coleus (plectranthus scrtellarioides)
- Winterberry Holly (ilex verticillata)
- Daylilies (hemerocallis spp.)
- Moss Rose (portulaca grandiflora)
- Ivy Geraniums (pelargonium peltatum)
- Shrub Verbenas (lantana camara)
- Prickly Pear Cactus (opuntia spp.)
- Creeping Juniper (juniperus horizontalis)
- Lilyturf (liriope spicata)
- Dwarf Yaupon Holly
- Live Oak
- Southern Red Cedar
- Dwarf Palmetto
- Cabbage Palm
- Sabal Palmetto
- Saltmeadow Cordgrass
- Bitter Panicum
2. Using Landscape Features
If there are features in the area that can prevent salt damage to your lawn, landscapers will make use of it to lessen the cost of landscaping. For example, large rocks or boulders can offer wind resistance so your flowers are somewhat protected from high winds, especially during hurricane season.
Most landscaping professionals will also suggest positioning your lawn so that your house is between it and the sea (if possible). Your house will protect it from salt spray and storm damage.
Though sand can also be bad for plants, salt is more destructive. That's why in houses close to the beach, naturally occurring sand dunes can help prevent damage to your grass and plants. They keep sand from getting blown away by the wind with their roots.
3. Planning Your Tree Placement
Experienced professional landscapers know better than to plant trees close to your house or near power lines. Doing this causes a serious safety hazard to you and your family.
Having trees close to your house where branches hang over your roof would mean that any fall would damage your roof. In the same way, trees that fall on power lines can cause harm to anyone near it.
4. Installing Metal, Vinyl, or Stone Fences
Fences are essential for homes in Coastal Florida. It protects your property from flying debris caused by wind during hurricanes or storms.
Wood isn't very resistant to water, more so saltwater. That's why using wooden picket fences or solid privacy fences isn't such a good idea. Wooden picket fences have a tendency to rot underground. In a different way, solid privacy fences don't let the air go through and are more prone to be blown away even by gale-force winds.
5. Building a Retaining Wall
For erosion-heavy areas, put some retaining walls to strengthen them. It prevents soil from being eroded by running or stagnant water. Professional landscapers also know that retaining walls should have great drainage. Otherwise, water will just keep collecting and drown your plants.
6. Avoiding Water Buildup
Though it is a good idea to use salt-resistant plants, it doesn't mean they're immune to salt damage. Remember, too much salt won't be good for any plant. The sodium ions prevent plants from getting magnesium, potassium, and calcium from the ground, therefore, making the soil toxic.
Landscapers usually buy materials that absorb water (e.g., mulch, compost, peat moss, etc.) from any garden or hardware store and put them around your flower beds to minimize standing water (rain mixed with saltwater).
7. Using Burlap Plant Covers as Protection
To avoid certain plant death because of salt damage, burlap plant covers are used by professional landscapers in Pensacola, Florida. These protect the plants from overexposure to water vapor rich in salt during such events as gale-force winds, storms, and hurricanes.
These winds carry more than the usual amount of saltwater from the sea inland. Letting your salt-resistant plants be exposed to normal weather conditions is one thing. Getting them drenched by seawater is another.
Of course, there are people who use turf paint to keep their grass green. But, in landscaping terms, that's cheating.
8. Using Salt-Resistant Sealants in Walkways
Because the mortar between your pavers is vulnerable to salt corrosion, it's a good idea to use sealants that are good to prevent salt damage. This ensures that your walkways are secure, and it prevents water damage from happening below them.
9. Applying Non-Sodium De-Icers
Snow doesn't happen too often in Florida. But it doesn't mean it never happens. In the unlikely event that you need to remove ice from your walkways, landscapers tend to avoid sodium deicers because of their negative impact on plants.
Just by doing some research, you can find many de-icing materials that are just as effective as the sodium ones. The most notable ones are:
- calcium magnesium acetate
- magnesium chloride
- potassium chloride
Other more natural materials such as gravel, sawdust, sand, and kitty litter provide traction for long periods without the risk of damaging your plants.
10. Spreading Pelletized Gypsum Soil Conditioner on the Landscape
When rock salt gets wet, the sodium and chlorine molecules separate and get absorbed by your plants. This prevents the plants from absorbing potassium and phosphorus from the soil. Plus, the salt dehydrates the soil, drying your plants up.
Pelletized gypsum is an excellent salt neutralizer. It replaces the salt with calcium and sulfur, which repairs the plants and encourages the grass to grow again.
11. Bordering Lawns With Taller Pavers
Making a barrier at the border where the sidewalk or pathway meets your lawn or garden helps prevent any salt deposits from spreading to the plants. You can use plastic edging, tightly-packed stones, raised concrete edges, and other materials after using an edger to keep salt from leaching into the soil.
You just need to make sure that your professional landscapers tightly seal that barrier. Otherwise, all of the work done would be for naught.
12. Anchoring the Hardscapes
Because of the higher probability of getting hurricanes, landscapers make it a point to anchor anything that the wind can lift. To be more specific: your hardscapes.
Not everything in your landscape is a plant. Sometimes, we put non-plants in there to make your property more beautiful. Anything in your landscape that isn't a plant is called a hardscape. Some examples of hardscapes are the following.
Smaller and lighter hardscapes especially need to be anchored firmly in the ground to keep them in place. Some good options for anchoring these features are:
- sturdy lumber structures for water fountains and decorative bridges
- rebar in concrete for small statues, and birdbaths
- Large trees for benches and arboretums
Salty Landscape, Salty Lifestyle
Your Florida living experience doesn't have to be a salty one. Once you see how Pensacola landscapers do things to protect your property from salt damage, it will be like second nature to you too. Once that happens, you can just enjoy the perks of living near the sea: wonderfully relaxed.