What You Should Know About Using Pool Water on Plants

by ,

This post may contain links to products/services. Please assume all such links are affiliate links which may result in my earning commissions and fees. and As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.This will not incur additional cost to you.

Can You Water Plants with Pool Water?  

If you are thinking about draining your pool for maintenance or because the level is too high, you might hate to see all the water wasted. You might start thinking of other things you can do with the water and if your garden isn’t too far, it might be logical to wonder if you can use your pool water to water your plants.

But is this safe for your plants?

Will there be long term damage and can you eat the produce from the garden once pool water has been used? 

While these questions and many more might be swirling around in your head, it is first important to learn if you can water your plants with pool water. High levels of chlorine in the pool water make it unsuitable for watering most of the plants in the garden. There are some plants and trees that can tolerate higher levels of chlorine, but caution should be used when watering with pool water.  

When levels of chlorine are too high, plants cannot survive, but if the water has a very low chlorine content you can use it in the garden. And the low levels of chlorine are even helpful for plants. The levels in pool water is typically not low enough to be beneficial, but instead are most often deadly.  

Chlorine can help plants in the right levels. Keep reading as we dive into the question of using pool water to water the plants in your garden.  

Does Pool Water Hurt Plants? 

It is natural to want to use pool water you might be draining for something, rather than seeing it wasted. It only makes sense to wonder if you can use this excess pool water in your garden.

Your plants have to drink, right? But you need to rethink this idea before you go pouring the pool water all over your flowers, shrubs, trees or vegetable plants. Landscaping and gardens take a lot of effort and dedication, not to mention time. Some landscape takes years to achieve the desired look. A dose of pool water can destroy all of that in one shot.  

Pool water should not be used on your plants. The high levels of chlorine in the pool water are so harmful to plants, you will see your plants die. All plants need some chlorine to live, but too much, for many plants is harmful. An overdose of chlorine is not good for your garden.  

There are some plants that can tolerate higher levels of chlorine, but many trees, shrubs, plants and ornamentals are highly sensitive to the chemical and will exhibit signs of distress and may have long term damage.  

If chlorine levels are low enough, and you use it on plants that have a higher tolerance, there is less chance of damage, but use caution. The last thing you want to do is cause damage to your landscaping or garden.  

What Does Chlorine Do To Plants? (Effect Of Chlorinated Water On Plants)  

Plants need a small amount of chlorine to survive and perform their natural functions. It is absorbed by the plants in nature. Chlorine converts to chloride when it is in the soil in the form of salts. Plants are exposed to chlorine regularly, and in small doses there is no problem. They actually benefit from small amount of chlorine, but too much will cause a great deal of problems.  

If your plant has been exposed to too much chlorine, you will likely see signs of it on the leaves. In plants and trees, chlorine toxicity will appear as scorched leaves, meaning they look burned, turning brown. The tips of the leaves will die, and have also been known to turn yellow. Sometimes, the leaf tissue will look bleached.  

In other cases, the leaves will drop early after turning yellow. And leaves may also be smaller than they should be.  

Grasses will yellow and turn brown, eventually dying if levels are too high. You will be left with a patchy turf in your yard, with dead areas wherever the highly chlorinated water was applied.  

Pool water may also cause speedy changes to pH in the soil. This will cause the plant to die rapidly.


How To Make Pool Water Safe For Plants

How Do I Dechlorinate Pool Water To Irrigate Trees? (How To Make Pool Water Safe For Plants)  

Even though there are some plants that have a higher tolerance for chlorine and you could use pool water to water them, you can’t just use fresh pool water. There is a bit of a process to get the pool water ready for use on these specific plants. The process to prepare the pool water usually takes about a week to complete. This will get the levels of chlorine down to tolerable levels, below .5 parts per million. 

Chlorine dissipates in the air naturally when it is exposed to sunlight. This means eventually the levels will get low enough to be used without you having to put in a whole lot of effort. You will need to stop adding chemicals to your pool about one week before you plan to drain the water.

After a few days, check the chlorine levels in the water. Once it reaches under .5 parts per million the pool water can be used for irrigation in the garden, but only on certain trees, plants or shrubs.  

If you don’t have the time to leave the water in the pool for that week, you can empty the amount you intend on using into a bucket, tub, kiddie pool or other large container. Place the container full of the pool water in a sunny location and wait until the levels dip low enough so that it is safe to use.  

The process usually takes about a week, but can go faster or slower depending on the weather. Chlorine levels will drop faster on hot and sunny days. Overcast, cooler weather will result in a slower dechlorination process.  

What plants can tolerate chlorine?

Below is the list of Chlorine Tolerant Plants

Plants And Trees You Cannot Use Pool Water On 

Before pouring pool water onto a plant, be sure you do your research and check to see which category they fall into. There are so many plants that are sensitive to salt including, but not limited to: 


Salt Tolerant PlantsModerately Salt Tolerant PlantsSensitive to salt
(Can Use Pool Water)(Can Use Pool Water In Limited Amounts)( Cannot Tolerate Pool Water)
Native Mesquite 
Deer Grass 
Bear Grass 
Ice Plant 
Japanese Honeysuckle  
Desert Broom 
Natal plum 
Bermuda grass 
Date Palm 
Yellow Bells 
Glossy Privet 
Palo Verde 
Monks Pepper 
Red Bird of Paradise 
Baja Fairy Duster 
Fruit Trees 
Algerian Ivy 
Queen Palm 
Chinese Hibiscus  
Star Jasmine 
Maple Trees 
Box Elder 
Pin Oak 

Aside from this list there are many other plants that are dubbed salt tolerant.  

Some plants in many gardens and yards are moderately salt tolerant. This means you can use pool water or water from a spa in limited doses. In smaller amounts, these moderately tolerant plants will not show signs of damage, but you will need to be careful and not overdo it.  

What Is The Best Water To Water Plants With? 

Understanding that pool water is not the best source of water for your plants, you might be curious as to what water you should be using. Water is necessary to keep your plants and trees alive. Gardeners can take advantage of natural watering, in the form of rain water.

Rainwater is the most natural and one of the best ways to provide water to the garden.  

Often a drought or just inconsistent showers make rain impossible to rely on by itself. This means you have to find a quality water source to supplement. Tap water untested can be harmful to your yard and garden. It is best to test the water source if you are using it from a hose connected to your house. 

In rural areas, well water is another source gardeners use, but like treated tap water, there are dangers. Some well water contains heavy metals or could be too acidic or alkaline.  

Whatever water source you are using, having it tested will tell you what is in the water and what you need to add. Some water may even have levels of certain chemicals that are too high for plants.

Local agriculture organizations can direct you to where you can get your water tested. Once it is tested, they will give you ideas on treating the water or adding fertilizers to make sure your plants are getting the right levels of the nutrients they need. 

If your water is deemed unusable, there are other options including collecting and reserving rain water for later use. Rain barrels are easy to find at your local garden or hardware store or online.  


Water is such a valuable resource that it is hard to just toss it out when you have to drain the pool. Fresh pool water will do a lot of harm to your garden and should not be directly applied to your garden or landscaping.

Some plants will never tolerate the levels of chlorine found in pool water, even when you have stopped adding chemicals. Check to make sure your plants are salt tolerant before attempting to use pool water.

In general, though it might be painful, to be on the safe side, especially if you are unsure, don’t use pool water to water your plants. The levels of chlorine can cause a lot of harm, and may even be toxic to your plants. After all your hard work to create a beautiful garden space, it would be a shame to watch it be destroyed.