city water killing grass?

Asked April 16, 2013, 8:46 PM EDT

Having just read the piece on chlorine's effect on microorganisms, I still have a question as to why the grass turns brown and other plants wilt when I water them with city water (which does contain chlorine, sometimes smelling like a public swimming pool). Plants and grass watered with rain water flourish, but when I need to water, which is all summer here in San Diego, and the water comes from the city, the grass turns brown and the other plants loose their leaves. Could the chlorine be burning the plants themselves? Is there another reason why city water turns my plants brown and stunts their growth? Our water also has a relatively large percentage of fluoride; could this be it? I'm very conservative with fertilizer and give it lots of water, but I do fertilize the same areas that I water. What do you think? I'm planning to put in devices to collect rain water, but it will have to wait till next winter when the rains return. Thanks for your suggestions.

San Diego County California lawns and turf public water systems horticulture

1 Response

Exposure to hazardous chemicals can definitely harm plants, causing them to wilt and display other symptoms. So it is quite possible that the chlorine could be affecting your grass and plants. Although chlorine is needed by plants in small amounts, too much can result in diminished plant health. Root health is disturbed by chlorine as well. The chlorine in tap water could potentially kill off good bacteria that your plant uses to defend itself against disease. The micro flora and fauna living in the root zone are needed for healthy vigor—without bacteria, organic nutrients become unavailable to the roots. Therefore, the problems may be a result of the chlorine and subsequent nutrient deficiencies. It may also be resulting from some type of disease or excessive moisture. As for the fluoride, plants tend to accumulate fluoride in their leaves and studies have shown that excessive amounts can cause leaf tissue to die. Below is a list of potential causes of the problems with your grass and plants and suggested recommendations. Possible causes of the problems: 1. Over watering 2. Over fertilization 3. Chlorinated water affecting bacteria populations 4. Grass or plants may be diseased 5. Too much fluoride in plant leaves Recommendations: 1. Invest in a water filter and make sure it takes out chlorine, chloramine and fluoride, if possible. 2. Get on a schedule for watering plants, never at night or midday, be careful not to over water. 3. Make sure that you don’t have a turf grass disease; if so, get it treated. 4. Perform a soil test on your soil to rule out a nutrient problem with your soil. 5. Make sure that pests are not a problem for wilting plants. 6. Contact your local Extension Office to see if there are any programs that will assist you with installing a rain barrel.