Alfalfa meal is a natural fertilizer that actually melts the ice, provides traction and won't harm the environment. It is different from pelletized alfalfa sold in feed stores. Look for meal in garden centers.
The greenest alternative, in more ways than one, is to pay the neighbor's teenager to do the job for you and keep the money flowing in your local economy!
As gardeners, we can plan ahead and avoid using salt-sensitive plants near sidewalks, driveways or roads whenever possible. Some plants that are very sensitive include red maple, sugar maple, Eastern redbud, Eastern white pine, flowering quince, dogwoods, roses and Kentucky bluegrass.
Penn State University extension agents suggest several plants for salt areas. They have a test garden that runs along a main road, where they have had luck with the following herbaceous plants:
Dianthus pulminarious 'Allwood,' Dianthus x 'Little Boy Blue,' Machaeranthera xylorrhiza (common woody aster), gaillardia (blanket flower), Iberis sempervirens (candytuft), geranium, coreopsis, veronica, achillea 'Moongold,' Calamagrostis acutifolia 'Karl Foerster.'
Additionally, birches, willows, common juniper, American arborvitae, red, white and English oaks, forsythia, pyracantha, common lilac, and, for the lawn, tall fescue and perennial ryegrass are more tolerant to high salt levels.
Valley Gardens has stocked a wide variety of blooming tropicals and foliage plants just in time for Valentine's Day giving. They are open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. They will open on Feb. 14, just for Valentine shoppers.
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.