Will Pressure Washing My House Kill My Plants? (How to avoid a brown yard)

Oftentimes in the spring and summer home owners notice the green that is building on the side of their house. The first reaction is to either get the pressure washer and do it themselves or hire a company like ours to come out and wash it for them. 

Bleach or Sodium Hypochlorite (bleach’s main ingredient) are commonly used chemicals between homeowners and professionals… 

These are great for getting your house clean, but will they kill the plants around your house? The answer is YES, if you are not careful you can kill your plants and grass!

Here are 5 tips to avoid this problem:

1 – Rinse before using chemicals

Before applying any chemicals to your house you want to generously rinse any plants or grass that could be hit by chemical runoff. Rinsing ahead of time will allow the plants to absorb the water first. Keeping them wet also helps to dilute any chemicals before spraying. 

2 – Know how strong your chemicals are

It’s important to know how strong of a chemical mixture you are using on your house.  The strength of the chemicals can require additional rinsing while you wash that area. 

We are typically using a mix containing around 1% Sodium Hypochlorite and have avoided issues for the most part. It is important that both these chemicals are properly diluted before use to avoid damage

For professionals that need a stronger chemical mix (for roofs, porous surfaces, etc.). You may need to get a second worker to rinse the plants during your cleaning as well. You want to keep the plants constantly wet because of how quickly strong SH can start killing leaves and grass.

3 – Rinse after using chemicals

After you have applied your chemicals and rinsed them off your house it is important to rinse off all the plants again.

This helps further dilute any runoff and gives the plants another good rinse to get any remaining chemicals off them

4 – Cover your plants

If you are nervous about rinsing alone another alternative is to cover your plants with a tarp or covering of some kind. 

While this can’t completely stop chemicals from getting to the root of your plants it will keep them from getting any direct spray and will help keep them safe as an additional measure. 

This works better on potted plants as it will keep almost any chemicals from getting into the pot.

5 – What time of year should I do this? 

One other thing to consider before doing this task is the time of year. In our midwest region, we don’t start to see plant life anywhere from late March into early May. If you have concerns yet about your plants you can always try and attack this at two different times of year…

  • Early spring is a great time of year as most plants are still dormant coming out of winter. Oftentimes different landscaping flowers and plants have not been planted yet either making this a great time to get your house washed before this is a worry!
  • Fall time is also an ideal time to get your house washed to avoid this as well. Once your plants start to die off and brown up for the year there is not much left to be concerned with killing. 

With that said it is still important to follow any tips or advice given no matter the time of year. While keeping your house clean is important, having a nice green yard to go with it is even better!

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