Q: What kind of deicer should I use that won’t hurt my plants? I used some deicer that I happened to have on hand and it turned my brick white. Is that bad?

A: The white color is a film left behind from the salts in the deicer. It’s not permanent and will wash away. If you’re looking for deicers that will have less impact on plants, we recommend staying away from rock salt and using windshield washer fluid or a product that’s labeled as plant-friendly. Windshield washer fluid has alcohol that will lower the freezing temperature of water, though it’s better at melting ice than preventing it. In an emergency you could also use fertilizer (yes, fertilizer!). If you use a fertilizer, try to use one that’s low-strength and high in potassium. It’s the potassium that does the deicing. Don’t make it a regular habit though, the excess fertilizer will eventually make its way to the bay.

Whatever you use, be sure not to use too much. One mistake people sometimes make with deicer is to use too much. Don’t expect deicer to completely melt ice. Instead, use the amount indicated in the directions and shovel away the ice once it has become slushy or broken up.

One concern with deicers is damage to concrete. Most commonly used deicers don’t directly attack concrete, it’s the repeated freezing and thawing that causes spalling. This problem will be most evident on poor quality concrete with little or no entrained air. If you think your concrete might be susceptible, calcium chloride might be your best choice, it works at lower temperatures, reducing the number of freeze-thaw cycles.

Here’s some additional information from the University of Missouri Extension:

There are five chemicals commonly used as deicers. They may be used alone or combined with other materials to enhance their performance.

  • Calcium chloride often works better than other deicing salts, especially at lower temperatures, because it gives off heat as it melts. It also will not leave behind a residue unless mixed with other chemicals.
  • Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is relatively inexpensive, but it can burn plants and corrode metal and concrete. It was first used as a road deicer in the 1940s. 
  • Potassium chloride is a naturally-occurring material that is also used as a fertilizer and food salt substitute. Its high salt index has the potential to burn foliage and inhibit rooting. 
  • Urea is made from ammonia and carbon dioxide and is used primarily as a nitrogen-based fertilizer. It is less likely to burn foliage than does potassium chloride. 
  • Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) is a new, salt-free melting agent. It is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the main compound of vinegar). This material has little impact on plants and animals, is a good alternative for environmentally-sensitive areas.

For locations where chemical deicers aren’t appropriate, sand or cat litter can provide some traction but will not melt snow and ice.

-Phillip Merritt

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Brian came out last week to try to assess a problem we are having in our yard.  He arrived on time, was extremely courteous and took a considerable amount of time analyzing our situation.  While he was unable to reach a solution, he did take the time to research and recommend another business that might be able to help us.  That kind of customer service will make us more likely to call on Hertzler & George if other issues arise.  Thanks, Brian!


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We hired H&G to help us re-do our landscaping after a different local landscaping company did a sub par job with plant selections and installations. That company also was very hard to deal with. H&G stepped right up with Jennifer creating a new planting scheme comprising of native plants with some we had never seen before and which we love! She is extremely knowledgeable and pleasant to work with – a true landscaping charm! Jon did the installations and also did a fantastic job. He was very meticulous on planting and finishing the job neatly with mulch. Unlike that other company’s installer, Jon left us extremely happy with the job done. Customer service on the phone – pleasant, patient and helpful. The only, and ever so minor aspect of their work, is they don’t offer a guarantee on the plants or install. I suppose that’s becoming industry standard. However, now looking over all the plantings with a bit of time passing, I am confident that there won’t need to be any replacements. Watering is of course the key element. Thank you H&G, the country cottage landscaping we’ve wanted is now ours – FIVE STARS!

Chris Dombrowski
Ford's Colony | Homeowner

True professionals

Had these guys build a surface-grade patio in May 2023. They looked at the project, sent me a proposed scope of work and contract via email, took a deposit of 1/2 the total via bank transfer. They set a date weeks later to start the job. They showed up on time, worked professionally and cleaned up at the end of the day. Whole job took 3 days, and they even replaced all the patio furniture on the last day. The final product was precisely what I asked for, done in a high-quality, workmanlike way.

H&G are not the cheapest guys out there, but for the extra money you get a professional product, professionally executed, on time, on budget. Honestly: I don’t think it gets any better than that.


Ken Blakely

Beyond Satisfied

We had an ugly uneven weedy patio and a driveway that needed reshaping and gravel. The transformation is stunning. Your representative Brian was patient and helpful in designing repairs to our satisfaction and your work crew was exceptional. Edwardo the work site foreman was extremely knowledgeable and professional and created a beautiful patio. His crew was superior.

Tim & Cynthia Porter

Joe Hertzler goes the extra mile

Hertzler and George were contracted to perform some landscaping for a seller of mine to get the home ready to show. They had just finished an extensive re-landscaping of the next door neighbors entire yard. I was very impressed by their attention to detail and their desire to satisfy their client. Joe Hertzler goes the extra mile to achieve complete client satisfaction. They provide a complete mix of landscaping design services and maintenance of existing landscaping

Tim Parker
Liz Moore Real Estate