Road Salt: What it might mean for the Public Gardens

Halifax locals may be praying for salt covered streets in hopes of some much needed traction, but could more salt now mean less grass later?

Icy sidewalks have been causing challenges for everyone, as the only pathways to be seen are made of snow and ice, and if you chance a section of concrete, it’s probably covered in salt.

There may be longer term effects Halifax residents will need to take into account. What will all this salt mean for the Halifax Public Gardens?

With the enormous amounts of salt that has been dumped on our roads this year, after it all melts our public green spaces may be looking a little more brown than green this spring.

The Halifax Public Gardens, which is currently closed, is surrounded by a thoroughly salted and treacherous chunk of sidewalk. Although the walkways inside the park are not salted, the wind and melting water will spread the road salt into the enclosed space.

One of the city’s main methods of de-icing is salt-spray, which can travel up to 150 feet from the trucks dispensing it. The spray is a mix of salt and water, which creates a brine that is used instead of direct salt in some cases.

The salt can be damaging to lawns, because it soaks up the water and nutrients the lawn and plants need to survive, resulting in browning and potentially starving the plants.

Although the city has been experimenting with other methods of melting the ice, the salt and brine spray continues to be used in large amounts.

This may also cause browning of the needles on the coniferous trees inside the Victorian garden, as well as the lawn and plants.

The garden’s Victorian style features signature serpentine beds, deciduous and coniferous trees, and annual and perennial flowers. But the park has held more than just plants over the years.

The middle entrance on Spring Garden Road leads to the Horticultural Hall, a building erected in 1847, and in 1859 a rink was installed inside the grounds.

Although the 16 acres of land no longer hosts a rink, the land boasts 122 different species of trees as of 2008, many of which line the periphery of the gardens.

With snowfall warnings still in effect and a cold forecast continuing, it’s possible the late April opening date may be later than usual.

“The staff that will be responsible for removing the snow from the gardens are the same ones currently working on our streets and sidewalks,” said Tiffany Chase of the HRM Public Affairs Office.

Chase says the park “would not be a key priority at this time.”

Perhaps a break from shoveling is in order, and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Marjorie Willison will be presenting at the Friends of the Public Gardens’ Special General Meeting, highlighting how vegetables are featured in the Gardens.