Does salt water kill grass, and if so, what can one do to protect their lawn grass from it? The short answer is “yes” and “we’ll show you!” We get hundreds of such questions from turf owners all over the world.

Save Grass From Saltwater Spillover

This guide will explain all the ways your grass gets damaged from salt water, along with practical measures to protect it. Jump below and learn what could be done in case of salt water spillovers on the lawn.

Does Salt Water Kill Grass?

💥 Salt water will kill your grass if used constantly. Not only grass but water heavy with salt content will also contaminate the soil long-term. Some turf grass types are more tolerant of salt water than others, but most of the grass types will most likely be damaged or killed.


– Salt Water Chemically Burns Grass Blades

Saltwater is water that is rich in sodium chloride, along with several other salts and minerals. Your average municipal tap water is filled with a suitable salt and mineral content. Naturally, the water in coastal areas tends to be saltier than elsewhere. 

One major damage that salt water causes to the grass is that it burns the grass blades. You will see large patches of grass turning yellow and losing chlorophyll. If a significant quantity of grass gets burnt, it will be unable to make food for itself. It will then start dying faster than ever. 

– Salt Water Dehydrates The Grass

Saltwater severely dehydrates the grass. When you water the soil with constant salt water, this leads to a large salt accumulation. The high salt level in the soil prevents the roots from absorbing the water they need.

Dehydrates Grass on the Lawn

In fact, it might even draw water from the grass back into the soil. This affects the grass a lot because it must absorb water from the soil to obtain the nutrients it needs for survival. Consequently, the grass blades will turn dry, brown, and brittle, and no amount of increased watering will appear to revive their condition.

– Salt Water Causes Sodium Toxicity

Salt water also causes sodium toxicity in the soil and the grass. A significant quantity of sodium chloride breaks down into sodium and chloride ions. 

Salt Water Causes Sodium Toxicity for Grass

The roots take the chloride ions into the grass blades, where they interfere with the grass’ food-making process. It breaks down chlorophyll, turning the blades yellow and weak.

On the other hand, the sodium ions also cause toxicity within the soil and the grass. It stops water from entering the roots. The important trace minerals that the grass needs from the soil are also absorbed via water and hampered their absorption.

– Salt Water Deprives The Soil of Oxygen

Saline water deprives the soil of a significant quantity of oxygen. It can decrease oxygen by as much as 20 to 30 percent. This is obviously not good news for the roots of your grass. 

Compared with fresh or distilled water, soil watered with salt water will provide much less oxygen to the roots of the grass. The growth and germination of grass seeds are naturally slowed down. The grass will not be as lush or thick as you want it to be.


How To Prevent Salt Water From Killing Grass

Without any doubt, salt kills grass unless you take measures against it. In case of a saltwater spill, you must flush the salt from the soil. Plant salt-resistant grass varieties and use de-icing salts that are less harsh on the grass.

– Be Careful When De-Icing

Most of the time, your grass is exposed to excessive salt during and after the winter frost season. We use salt all winter to melt the snow build-up in our lawn, backyard, or driveway. When the snow melts, the salt gets mixed with water and runs to the lawn, and causes salt toxicity in it.

Be Careful When De-Icing

There are some things you can do to prevent this from happening. First of all, choose the de-icing products carefully. Specifically, go for those products that are less harsh and do not harm grass and other vegetation. They are a bit more expensive than cheaper and harsher products but trust us, it will be worth it.

When we think about salts, we instantly think about sodium chloride, which is highly corrosive for grass. Instead, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are relatively safer for grass. Acetates are de-icers that are the safest for all grass types when used throughout winter.

– Treat Salt Water Spill On Grass

If your lawn has been exposed to a large amount of salt due to a spillover or salt water build-up, you must treat it as soon as possible.

Treating Salt Water Spill on Grass

If the spillover was mild, only melding and flushing the soil would do. It is very common for grass to get flooded by chlorinated pool water and will require rock salt to get rid of the salty pool water from the roots of the grass.

Mild flushing includes watering the grass with six inches of clean water delivered daily. By clean water, we mean you use distilled water ideally or filtered water if distilled water is unavailable. This method works better on sandy soil and will remove 50 to 70 percent of sodium chloride from the soil.

For clay soil, you will first need to loosen up the soil using a rake or a plug aerator. Apply rock salt (gypsum) as per the instructions given on the back of the label once a month and follow it up with an inch of water. Test your soil each month after this application until all the salt is gone.

– Plant Salt Tolerant Species

No grass should be exposed to salty conditions if you want it to grow healthily. However, some varieties tolerate salt water better than others. 

Salt Tolerant Grass

For your home lawns, you can go for Perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, wheatgrass, or bermudagrass if you live someplace where water is naturally a bit salty. These are among the grass varieties that will not die or go dormant during lawn care.

Remember, we are only talking about using salt water for occasional watering here. A large volume of standing and saline water pool will definitely kill all grass types.

– Use Salt Water To Kill Weeds In Grass Without Damaging Grass

Saltwater can be an effective weed killer in lawns and turfs . However, you need to take care not to damage the grass grown on the said lawn during this process.

A DIY mixture of water and salt in a ratio of three to one will kill weeds after just one to two applications. Adding a few drops of dishwashing liquid and vinegar to this mixture will increase its potency even further.

Only apply this mixture on patches where the weed is growing strongly. One way is to use a funnel so that this mixture does not come in contact with nearby grass. Water the grass after this application to further protect it from getting killed by salt water.


Will Pool Salt Water kill trees?

Pool salty water will kill trees if they are exposed to it repeatedly in a short amount of time. It also matters what type of trees we are talking about here. Trees such as Cedar, that are sensitive to salt, are more likely to succumb than tougher varieties. 

Will my grass grow back after Salt Water application?

Grass may struggle to grow back after salt water exposure. Rinsing with freshwater, soil improvement, and reseeding can aid recovery.

How do I fix Salt Water damage in my lawn?

Fixing salt water damage in your lawn involves flushing with freshwater, aerating the soil, applying gypsum, and overseeding to promote regrowth.


Now that you know that salt water kills grass, here are a few take-home points from this article.

  • Saltwater will kill your grass by dehydrating it and causing sodium toxicity. 
  • In case of a large amount of salt water spill from the pool, you should use rock salt and water to quench salt from the soil.
  • When de-icing lawns and driveways in winter, always use salts other than sodium chloride.
  • Saline water deprives the soil of a significant quantity of oxygen. It can decrease oxygen by as much as 20 to 30 percent.

If you want to grow a healthy, thriving lawn with lush grass, always water it with distilled and non-salty water. In case of accidental spillage of salty water on the lawn, you can take pointers from our article to help you deal with it.

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