En EspaÑol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
4 ratings

Friday - May 22, 2009

From: Syracuse, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Watering
Title: Will chlorinated pool water affect the soil in a vegetable garden?
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

For the first time I'm going to plant a vegetable garden, and I have an area cleared. My swimming pool cover came off over the winter, and the pool water is a dark green to look at, but looks clear when I started pumping it out. As it started pumping out, I thought the green might be nutrients and started watering the patch of land cleared for my garden. After several minutes I realized that the water had been clorinated 8 months ago, so I moved the drain hose just to the back of my yard. Do you think I have damaged the quality of the soil? Have I poisoned the soil and should I not use that space now for vegetables??? Thank you for your anticipated answer and for being willing to help others.

ANSWER:

Please don't let this get around, but Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't know everything. In the first place, we rarely deal with vegetable garden questions, because most vegetables are either non-native to North America or so hybridized they have little resemblance to the original plant. However, we are always interested in practices that may impact the environment. We are gardeners, not chemists, and found it necessary to do a little research on the subject. On some of the sites, we only understood words like "a", "and" and "the." But we found some that used shorter words and more terms we understood. From the first one, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Chlorine; we learned that chlorine is included in most public water systems to combat bacterial action. This is the water you drink and the water you put on your garden.

To get more specific about how the chlorine reacts in the pool, we went to this howstuff works website poolcenter.com Chlorine Chemistry. A passage from that article:

"Pool water is very similar in makeup to the city water right out of the tap. Many people water their lawns with higher chlorine and lower pH than is found in their pool."

We could find no indication that the chlorine content in the pool water would be dangerous to the soil or to the plants that might grow in that soil or the people who might eat those plants. Our conclusion is that it would probably be better not to drain your pool into your vegetable garden, but that you have not destroyed its usefulness as of now.  And keep in mind also that wherever you drain that pool water, it continues to be part of the environment.

 

 

 

More Watering Questions

Possibility of hydrophobic soil in Austin, TX.
July 13, 2011 - I believe I have an area in my garden with “hydrophobic soil”: no matter how much or how slowly I water, it just beads up and rolls off and the soil beneath remains cement dry and powdery. In my readi...
view the full question and answer

Ailing Tecoma stans from Phoenix AZ
August 24, 2012 - I have several young Tecoma plants in my Phoenix, AZ garden. I planted them in June and have tended to them over the summer. They are watered twice daily. On some of the plants, I've noticed two oddi...
view the full question and answer

Problem with Salvia Mystic Spires in Chesterfield VA
May 30, 2009 - Last August, our local Lowes had these beautiful, unusual blue perennials on the discount rack called "Salvia Mystic Spires". For 50 cents each, they looked terrific, so I bought all they had, about...
view the full question and answer

Recently planted live oak tree in Boerne, TX
February 07, 2009 - My brother planted a live oak in August. It was from a nursery and had a root ball. It looks dead but I keep watering it. The trunk is about 6 inches around. The leaves died but when the winds came th...
view the full question and answer

Failure to thrive of Hamelia patens in Laredo
September 19, 2008 - I have a question regarding Hamelias patens(firebush)that I have been trying to grow for 2 years. I live in Laredo, Texas and this area should be an excellent climate for this plant. I planted 12 of t...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center