Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Why are the leaves on my Laurel hedge turning brown in Everett, WA?
February 22, 2010 - Our laurel hedge seems to have brown leaves on the top of the bush. We haven't had a freezing winter so we are trying to figure out why some of the leaves are brown.
view the full question and answer

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Mexican Plum with wilted leaves in Austin, TX.
June 06, 2012 - I am new to Texas & have a yard with mature mexican plum trees. They are quite beautiful however as summer sets in I notice that the leaves appear "wilted". Is this normal or should I be providing...
view the full question and answer

Removing water from local rivers to water garden from San Marcos TX
February 14, 2013 - I live in San Marcos Central Texas and my household experiments with a lot of organic gardening in our back yard, and I was wondering how using the surrounding rivers such as the Blanco or San Marcos ...
view the full question and answer

Yellow bands around edges of leaves in Whitney TX
July 20, 2009 - How can you tell whether esperanzas are getting too much water or not enough - ours have a small yellow band around the edges of the leaves - crape myrtles - same question
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.