Does Cholorine in Pool Water Kill Plants?

Swimming pools are a popular recreational feature in many homes, providing a great way to cool off during hot summer months. However, the chlorinated water used in pools can pose a risk to the health of nearby grass and plants. Chlorine, commonly used to sanitize pool water, can damage leaves, roots, and seeds, and potentially kill grass and other vegetation over time. This comprehensive guide will discuss the effects of chlorine on grass and plants, and provide practical tips on how to prevent chlorine damage.

Effects of chlorine on grass and plants

A. Chlorine is toxic to grass and most plants

  • Chlorine inhibits photosynthesis and cell growth, damaging foliage and roots. Even low concentrations of chlorine can burn leaf margins and tips of grass blades. Prolonged exposure to chlorinated water may kill grass and some plants.

B. Damage is cumulative and long-term

  • Chlorine damage adds up over repeated watering or during the pool season. Chlorinated water may damage grass over an extended period of weeks or months. Damage is permanent and grass cannot recover fully. Killing nearby grass is a serious risk for pools.

C. Some plants are more sensitive to chlorine than others

  • Grass, berries, flowers, trees, and shrubs can be impacted but at varying degrees. Certain varieties of grass, especially newly seeded lawns, are very sensitive to chlorine. Broadleaf weeds tend to be more resistant to chlorine.

D. Pool filter backwash also contains chlorine and should be directed away from grass

  • Backwash contains highly concentrated chlorine and can severely damage or kill grass on contact. Always drain backwash and rinse water away from lawn areas and plants.

How to prevent chlorine damage to grass and plants?

A. Dilute the chlorine level in the pool water

  • Reduce the chlorine dose in the pool to the minimum recommended level, around 1-3 parts per million. Run the pool filter for longer to ensure even distribution at lower chlorine levels.

B. Use an alternative sanitizer or pool treatment

  • Switch from chlorine to chlorine-free or organic pool treatments which are less toxic. Bromine and biguanide can be good alternatives to chlorine.

C. Install a barrier like a fence between the pool and grass

  • A physical barrier prevents chlorinated water from directly contacting the grass and plants. Barriers can be temporary fences, permanent fences, or retaining wall materials.

D. Water grass and plants separately from the pool

  • Water lawn and plants using a separate, chlorine-free water source like a garden hose or sprinkler. Never use pool water to water nearby vegetation.

E. Consider relocating the pool farther away from grass and sensitive plants

  • If damage has already occurred, relocating the pool may be the only way to provide permanent prevention. Apply the guidance in this outline for any new pool installation.


Chlorinated pool water poses a significant threat to the health and survival of nearby grass and plants. Understanding the effects of chlorine on grass and plants is essential to properly manage and maintain both the pool and surrounding landscape. By implementing preventive measures such as diluting chlorine levels, using alternative sanitizers, installing barriers, and watering plants separately, you can protect your grass and plants from the harmful effects of chlorinated pool water. With careful planning and management, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of a swimming pool while maintaining a healthy and thriving landscape. By being proactive and following the tips outlined in this guide, you can prevent chlorine damage to your grass and plants, ensuring a beautiful and harmonious outdoor environment for years to come.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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