Q: My parents live a block from the beach in Fairfield, Connecticut. The salt water from Long Island sound destroyed the lawn and plants after Hurricane Sandy. How do they recover their lawn?
A: Legend has it that conquerors through the years have salted to earth of their enemies to prevent them from reinhabiting a spot. Salt water burns plant roots, with the degree of damage proportional to the amount of salt in the soil. Gypsum can be used to neutralize salinity. Spread 10 pounds per 1000 square feet on the lawn five times at four week intervals, irrigating heavily after each application. To test whether the soil is ready for planting again, plant a few squash seeds in it at weekly intervals. If seedlings emerge but die in a few days, the soil is still saline.