Arizona Gardening: Dilution can wash away pollution - East Valley Tribune: At Home

Arizona Gardening: Dilution can wash away pollution

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Posted: Saturday, April 26, 2008 4:21 am | Updated: 10:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

My neighbors backwashed their pool and it flowed into my yard. The grass and several of my plants have died. What can I do remedy the soil contamination?

Q: My neighbors backwashed their pool and it flowed into my yard. The grass and several of my plants have died. What can I do remedy the soil contamination?

A: When water evaporates, it leaves behind all the salt and minerals in the water. Over a period of many months and even years, the salts and minerals left behind can be quite concentrated. As extreme examples of evaporation over centuries, we have the Dead Sea in the Middle East and the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The bathtub ring on the rocks when the water level of a lake drops is salt and mineral.

Excessive salt in pool water from evaporation for many months, possibly years, is probably the cause of the lawn and plant deaths. Pool water is not good for watering plants. It is better to run it down a drain.

About the only way to improve the soil at this point is to wash it out. If you water your yard by sprinklers, I would run them for two to three hours on three successive days, then let the ground dry out for a couple of weeks. Water again for two to three hours on three successive days and let the ground dry out for a couple of weeks, and repeat the process twice. That should flush out the soil fairly well. After you have finished the fourth water treatment, let the soil dry out, then add soil gypsum, 16-20-0 iron, and water once more. After the soil dries to just moist, you should be able to replant your shrubs. Resod or reseed your lawn. This principle of alternating periods of successive heavy watering and drying is good treatment for many other situations. If you accidently spill a bag of fertilizer or pesticide, etc., gather up as much as you can and apply the water - each successive irrigation dilutes the concentration and drives the pollutant deeper into the soil, past the root zone of the plants and trees. Remember: "The solution to pollution is dilution."

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CONTACT WRITER: john@johnchapman.com

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