Can You Water Plants with Pool Water?

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Watering Plants with Pool Water

Do you have a nice, big swimming pool that you want to drain for maintenance but don’t want to waste all that water? How about watering the garden with it? Is it safe to water plants with pool water? Which kind of water is safe for plants and which kind isn’t?

So how does pool water affect plants? Chlorinated water, such as that from a pool is not suitable for watering plants. High levels of chlorine are toxic to plants. However, water compositions with low chlorine contents may be used, and even prove helpful for the plants.

As much as many folks would like to prevent pool water from being wasted, pay attention to the plants’ health and make certain that the composition isn’t going to cause harm. After all, all that effort spent in growing and maintaining a garden should not go to waste simply because the gardener made a single wrong decision.

Can pool water kill plants?

Chlorine is a major component of pool water to keep it disinfected from pathogens. Unfortunately, chlorine, along with certain other chemicals that are a part of pool water, can be toxic to plants. The answer to whether or not pool water can kill plants or not depends on the concentrations of these chemicals and on the type of plant that’s being watered. Low levels of chlorine aren’t poisonous to plants. It’s, in fact, useful in low quantities, since it can kill certain types of pests that aren’t beneficial to plants.

Chlorinated water is considered grey water. Some communities even have laws regarding whether or not to use this type of water for irrigating plants. However, if gardeners do plan on irrigating houseplants with this water, they should make sure that the chlorine concentration is below 100 ppm. This will ensure that there’s no excessive foliar absorption or root uptake to shun plant growth or cause leaf burn. 

For those who are not sure whether the water from the pool is suitable for the garden or not, it may help to do a patch test. Pick a small patch of the garden, one that is okay to give up if the experiment goes wrong, and water it with the pool. Wait two days to decide whether the plants from this patch still appear healthy. If it all goes well, the rest of the garden won’t mind pool water either – just make sure that it doesn’t include any salt-sensitive plants.

Which plants are salt-tolerant?

Different plants react differently to pool water. So how does one know which plants won’t mind pool water and which ones will? See the table below to know what to irrigate with pool water and what not to:

Pool water tolerant plantsPlants with moderate sensitivity to pool waterPlants sensitive to pool water
Palm treesXylosmaRose
Souther magnoliaJuniperFruit trees
HawthornPalo VerdeWillow
Century plantAcacia speciesChinese Hibiscus
RosemaryYuccaAlgerian Ivy
HoneysuckleGlossy privetFraser's Photinia
Green ivyPyracanthaAnd more...
Liriope Deer grassAnd more...
And more...

Note: Plants with thicker leaves are more likely to be resistant to chemicals such as chlorine.

Symptoms of chlorine toxicity in plants

Chlorine is an essential nutrient for the growth of plants, but only if provided in small amounts. Excess consumption through chlorinated water, fertilizer, or any other means can result in chlorine toxicity. So how can a gardener tell if plants are getting more chlorine than what they need?

Scorched leaves are one of the most common symptoms of chlorine toxicity. Browning on the tips, or leaf margins, or smaller sizes of leaves are all signs that the irrigation water has too much chlorine content.

In some plant species, chlorosis may also result from excessive foliar absorption of chlorine. Chlorosis is a condition when plants don’t have enough chlorophyll to appear green; instead, they’ll appear yellow or bleached.

Can the damage made by pool water be reversed?

If you’ve already irrigated your beloved plants with pool water and the symptoms of chlorine damage have begun to appear, don’t freak out! In most cases, it’s not too late- the damage can still be reversed. Here are some solutions you can apply:

  • The easiest fix is to irrigate the area generously with clean, non-chlorinated water to dilute the concentration of chlorine in the soil.
  • Large scale gardeners introduce gypsum into the soil to reduce the chloride levels in the soil. However, the chemical has limited use in home gardens

Can I remove chlorine from pool water to irrigate my garden?

Yes. You can absolutely dechlorinate the water before draining the pool into the garden. The process is simple. Here’s how to dechlorinate water and use it safely to irrigate a garden:

  • Stop adding any chemicals to the pool water.
  • Wait a week for chlorine and other harmful chemicals to dissipate from the uncovered swimming pool.
  • After the week has passed, check the pH of the water – it should lie between 7 and 8.
  • Check the chlorine content if possible. It should be 1 ppm, or lower. Use a swimming pool testing kit to do so.
  • The color of water should be clear and free of algae.
  • The water can now be discharged into the garden. Use a bucket to extract water from the pool, or a siphon line and water the plants with it.

If it’s not possible to wait a week for the chlorine to dissipate from the pool, there’s a faster way. Scoop out buckets of water from the pool and leave it out in the sun for a day or two. The chlorine level should fall to a safe level within this time. Check the pH and chlorine concentration of water before watering any plants with it.

and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

1 Peter 3:21

What other water sources are safe to use?

71% of the Earth is covered with water. Water is everywhere, but is every water safe for plants? No, just like pool water, many types of water can’t be considered entirely safe for watering plants.

The kind of water used for irrigating the plants can have a serious impact on their health, other than its amount. Let’s discuss each water source in a little detail and see how it affects garden plants.

Cooking water

Water that has been used for cooking is sometimes strained, cooled to room temperature and used for watering plants. Since this water has been boiled, most of the contaminants will be killed, making the water safer for plants. If the water was used to boil vegetables, it can act as a natural fertilizer to the soil, but make sure it’s not salted.

Distilled water

Distilled water is also a good choice for watering plants, just like boiled water. Distillation involves the collection of pure water in the form of steam. All the contaminants, including harmful chemicals and minerals are absent in this type of water. On the negative side, all the healthy minerals, which are beneficial for plant growth are also removed through distillation.

It might help to cover some of the nutrient deficiency by watering with tea after you water with distilled water. Check out our article Can You Water Plants With Tea? Here Are the Facts! to learn more about how to water plants with tea.

Tap water

Almost every gardener fills their watering cans with tap water. While it’s OK to use tap water for watering the plants, the composition of this type of water may not be the most ideal one for them. Other than fluoride and salts, chlorine is also a major component of tap water. Why is chlorine added to tap water? It’s added to municipality water to kill microbes and make it safe for human consumption.

The fix is the same as it was with pool water. Let the water sit in the sun for 24 hours before watering it to the plants; it will kill most of the harmful chemicals, including chlorine.

Rain Water/Melted Snow

Rain water is the best bet for watering plants. It’s packed with the most beneficial minerals for plants and free from harmful chemicals. To collect rainwater, just leave buckets out in the yard as soon as it starts to rain.

To collect snow, choose a spot where there’s no possibility of salts or other impurities. Use a shovel to collect snow in a clean container. Let it melt before storing it for irrigation.

Algae water

Leaving collected water out too long before watering it may develop algae in it. Similar problems may arise when using pond water to irrigate plants.

So is algae good or bad for plants? It’s preferable not to use algae water for irrigating plants, especially seedlings since algae are living creatures. They’ll release excess oxygen into the soil and leach out the nutrients. Other than that, after making the soil overly oxygenated and nutrient-deficient, they’ll die very quickly which makes room for bacteria to thrive.


Once a gardener has measured the pH level and chlorine concentration of pool water, they will know for sure if it’s suitable for the plants or not. Make sure to use the right kind of water and water the plants safely so that the garden that was set up with such love and care thrives to the gardener’s expectations.

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Corey Leichty

Hi, I’m Corey and I love using gardening as a way to provide food for my family, learn life lessons alongside my wife, Andrea, and teach life lessons to my two sons. Do you have gardening questions? Not finding what you are looking for? Please feel free to Ask a Question (Click Here!) and I will get back with you as soon as I can!

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