The mini-fences reduce the salinity of the soil, Source: Vilnius Municipality / Sauliaus Žiūros

Vilnius puts up mini-fences to protect new plants from de-icing salt

Vilnius puts up mini-fences to protect new plants from de-icing salt

A good example from the Lithuanian capital, and something to keep in mind for next winter

The end of winter is upon us and the City of Vilnius announced that it is starting the dismantling process of its special mini-fences corralling the street plants in the Lithuanian capital. These simple devices may seem quite low-tech, in a world where everything appears to have gone the other way, but they are a quaint reminder that sometimes you don’t need much to offer protection for urban green life.

The purpose of the low fences was to protect the new saplings from the harmful and toxic effects of street pollution such as car exhaust fumes and the de-icing salt that is liberally sprinkled in the winter season.

23 kilometres of mini-fences

According to the new Vilnius street standard, for the past few years, strips of trees and bushes have been planted along pedestrian and bicycle paths in such a way as to separate them from the carriageway of the streets. Such green strips retain dust and absorb pollution better than grass. On hot summer days, trees and bushes create shade for pedestrians and cyclists, and cool and moisten the air throughout the city.

Before they can turn into fully-fledged plants, however, they are quite vulnerable, which is why the authorities decided to protect them with the mini-fences in question. Apparently, a total of 23 kilometres of these were installed around saplings.

Next winter, their locations will be adjusted taking into account where new trees, shrubs or flowers will be planted. Studies show that protective plant barriers help reduce soil salinity by half compared to unprotected areas.

Last year, a soil test was carried out, which showed that where protection against snow-melting substances was installed, the concentration of chlorides in it does not exceed 80 mg/kg. If this limit is exceeded, the plants become more vulnerable, their growth slows down, the trees turn green later, and lesions may appear on the leaves.

Street maintenance companies are also already collecting drifts accumulated during the winter, which can only be cleaned after the snow melts. To ensure that the cleaning of the streets does not harm the environment, they are cleaned in a wet way using vacuum sweeping machines.



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