draining pool water on lawn

Can I Drain My Saltwater Pool on My Lawn?

In Lawn Care, Tips by Jamie

As most pool owners know, the water needs to be drained when structural pool maintenance is required or with transitions through the seasons, such as the winterizing process. It is a necessary practice and it may seem easiest to drain your saltwater pool onto your lawn but this is not the best practice.

Ideally, saltwater pools should be drained using a small submersible pump and a garden hose to move water from your pool into one of your home’s sanitary systems such as a laundry basin, bathtub, or shower drain over a few days. This will avoid flooding your lawn and keep your grass and surrounding plants safe.

Depending on local regulations, saltwater pools may be drained into gutters and storm drains, though this practice is diminishing with the increased number of saltwater pools in metropolitan areas and its impact on wildlife and plant life.

Will Saltwater Pool Water Kill Your Grass?

Small amounts of saltwater from your pool or water that is splashed onto your grass infrequently will not harm the surrounding grass. Large amounts of saltwater being drained onto one area of your lawn however can have damaging effects.

Although the water evaporates, the salt is left behind on the surface of the lawn which then seeps into the soil. If there is a high salt concentration in one area of your lawn, the salt can absorb moisture and nutrients making it unsustainable for grass and other plants to grow.

If you have a water irrigation system, it can disperse the saltwater evenly so that any damaging effects to the grass are mitigated.

Will It Kill Other Plants and Trees?

For the most part, plants are fairly resistant to small amounts of saltwater being splashed onto them. If large amounts of salt accumulate near certain plants for extended periods or where drainage and water flow are poor, then the salt can absorb moisture and nutrients that plants would need to grow, thus creating an uninhabitable environment for them.

The likelihood of plants dying from salt exposure from saltwater also depends on the age and strength of the tree or plant. Trees and plants that are mature with well-established root systems are less likely to be affected by saltwater whereas, young plants can be prone to compromised root systems that can cause them to die with high amounts of salt exposure.

What Does Salt Do to Your Soil?

In small amounts, salt from saltwater will not harm your soil. In large, concentrated amounts where the salt is allowed to build up, it can seep into the soil. Large amounts of salt in the soil can absorb moisture and nutrients that would have otherwise nourished surrounding grass and other plants meaning that this area of soil becomes uninhabitable for such growth.

How to Drain a Pool Without Flooding the Yard?

There are a few methods to drain your pool without flooding your yard. First, you should check with your local municipal bylaws and regulations around draining pools. While it was once common practice to siphon pool water towards the gutter and storm drains on the street, this practice is now prohibited in some areas due to the harm it caused to local wildlife and plant life.

Nowadays, you are likely to find that pool water needs to be drained through the water sanitary systems of your home such as laundry basins, tubs, or showers. This video explains that a small submersible garden-hose-sized pump can be used to move water from your pool to your home’s sanitary drainage system. This method can take 3-5 days to fully drain your pool however it is more manageable for your city’s water treatment facilities.

drain pool with hose, water exiting hose tip. Garden hose shooting water on green background

What Not to Do…

Do not allow the saltwater from your pool to flood your lawn or collect in one area of your lawn. While small amounts of salt will not typically affect grass, large amounts of salt from your entire pool can cause salt to build up in areas of your lawn where the water evaporates, leaching moisture and nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be used by your grass and other plants.

Depending on your local bylaws and guidelines, you may not be allowed to drain your saltwater pool into gutters and storm drains on nearby roads as this can disrupt the process at your local water management facilities, along with harming local wildlife and plant life.

Don’t Drain Any Pool Water into Your Neighbors Yard

While this may seem obvious, it is best to avoid draining your pool water near or into your neighbor’s yard. The sudden abundance of water in their yard can cause damage to their lawn, their plants, and structural damage to their homes if the water drains or pools near their home.

Draining pool water into your neighbor’s yard might not seem like a big deal but it can be a nuisance for them if they did not consent to it and could leave you facing legal notices and fines should they partner with a real estate attorney over damages caused by your pool water.

Don’t Drain Saltwater into Nearby Rivers, Streams, or Lakes

It may be tempting to drain your pool’s saltwater into nearby gutters and storm drains however this is not a wise choice. Gutters and storm drains feed into the local water supply including, streams, ponds, and rivers. The increase in saltwater pool owners means that even more saltwater needs to be processed and treated to reduce the salt levels which is not always manageable for your city.

Saltwater mixed with other pool maintenance chemicals can create a byproduct called bromoform that can harm vital organs in wildlife and kill local plant life.  For these reasons, some municipalities have specific regulations against draining pool water into gutters and storm drains.

The Verdict – How Should You Drain Your Saltwater Pool

Try to avoid flooding your lawn with saltwater from your pool as the salt can remain in the soil and on top of your lawn as the water evaporates, potentially damaging your lawn and nearby plants. It is best to drain your pool in stages, onto your lawn only if you have a water irrigation system to disperse it, or by using a submersible pump to move the water from your pool into one of your home’s sanitary water drains.