How can I reduce the salt level in my soil after a hurricane induced surge from the ocean? - Knowledgebase Question

Big Pine Key, FL
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Question by noodleskeywe
February 25, 2006
Last year during hurricane season our entire yard flooded twice in a month with salt water. I was told to water the yard well with fresh water to dilute the salt water and not to fertilize at all. I did as told and we lost just about everything in our very large yard. The larger trees lived as well as some native shrubs and palms. My question is, is there some kind of salt buffer I can water into my yard right after a flood? Someone told me iron is a buffer to salt and would lower the ph. Will that work? Is it true I should not sprinkle some plant food or fertilizer after a flood? The cost to replace my plants is much greater than fertilizer. Not to mention the heartache of lost plants and trees that I started from seed. We are approching hurricane season once again and I would like to know what is the best way to combat the salt after a flood. If you have any suggestions I would love to hear from you. I am worried about all the new plants we planted this year. Please help.

Answer from NGA
February 25, 2006

Unfortunately there is no fix for salt accumulation other than drenching the soil with fresh water as you were told. The loss of plants was likely due to the excessive soil moisture for an extended period of time along with the salt damage.

Iron won't fix salt problems and the reasons you were told not to fertilize is the first of all the plants are not lacking nutrients but rather are stressed, and secondly the fertilizer is a salt based product that could actually make the situation worse.

Let's just hope this season the hurricanes avoid your place. You may also want to focus on salt tolerant plants. The following web site gives some ideas:

The following web site will allow you to search for Monrovia plants by name, by category and/or by attributes. Under the benefits column check "seacoast exposure" and possibly "tolerates wet soils".

When a list of options is returned via the search, you can click on a plant to learn more about it and in many cases to see a photo too.

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