Watering plants and grass:[1]

One who waters seeds[2] in order so they grow is liable for the plowing and planting prohibition.[3] Therefore it is forbidden to pour liquid over grass, plants, [trees[4]] and the like.

May one wash his hands over grass, plants, or weeds? It is forbidden to wash one’s hands over plants, grass and the like even if one has no intent to water the grass by doing so.[5] This prohibition applies by all plants, grass [and trees] whether owned by oneself, one’s friend or public property.[6] [Regarding watering plain earth see Q&A!]

Eating outside on the lawn: For the above mentioned reasons, when eating outside over a lawn which contains grass,  plants or trees one must beware not to spill or pour water over it. Hence it is best not to eat at all over a lawn if one will be drinking or using water during the meal, as it is very difficult to avoid any spillage.

Urinating over grass: It is permitted to urinate on grass[7], however it is proper to refrain from doing so.[8]

Pouring juice over grass: It is permitted to pour wine and other juices over grass[9], however it is proper to beware from doing so.



May one pour water over plain earth?[10]

There is no planting prohibition involved in pouring water over plain earth[11] unless one of the following apply:

  1. The earth is designated to be plowed or seeded, in which case it is forbidden to water it due to the planting and plowing prohibition.[12]
  2. There are trees within 15 Amos radius of the area in which case it is forbidden due to the planting prohibition.[13]
  3. The water will flow onto plants, or grass in which case it is forbidden due to the planting prohibition.[14]
  4. The earth is loose: It is forbidden to pour any liquid over loose earth due to the kneading prohibition.


May one pour water over plain earth if it is near grass or plants?[15]

It is permitted to pour water on hard earth which is near plants or grass, even if the water within 24 cm. of the plant. It is forbidden to pour it if it is within 15 Amos of a tree. In all cases it is forbidden to pour water for plowing or planting purposes, or if the water will flow onto the plants or grass.

May one eat over bare earth that has no grass or plants?

Yes. However one should distance himself fifteen Amos from any trees.


May one urinate over earth?[16]

If the earth is loose it is forbidden due to the kneading prohibition. It is permitted to do so over hard earth

Sand/Ash: It is forbidden to urinate over sand, ash and all items of the like.


May one urinate onto mud?[17]

If the mud is very liquidly, such as a mud puddle then this is allowed. If however the mud is still slightly thick, then this is forbidden to be done. If the mud is hard and dry it is forbidden as the mud will soften due to the urine.[18]
 The Mishneh Berurah[19] allows this to be done in a time of need, if the mud does not belong to him.[20]


May one wash in a sink which has a drainage pipe that draws the water onto plants or seeded soil?

Some Poskim[21] rule doing so is allowed [even if the water will spill into one’s own garden].[22]
Others[23] rule doing so is forbidden even if it will spill onto plants that one does not own.[24]


May one spit onto plants, or grass?[25]



May one spit onto plain earth?[26]

If the earth is hard it is permitted to do so. If the earth is soft then it is proper to avoid doing so[27] although there is much room to side that this is allowed.[28]


May one pour a plant killing agent over plants on Shabbos?[29]



May one water a pod plant that does not have any breathing holes?[30]



May one cover plants which are outside to protect them from rain?

Some Poskim[32] rule in a case of loss it is permitted to cover plants in protection of rain. Other Poskim[33] rule it is never allowed due to the planting prohibition.[34] According to all it may only be placed in a way that it does not touch the plants as explained in the laws of Muktzah.[35]


If rain water has gathered over ones awning or Schach covering, may it be removed if it will subsequently cause the water to fall onto grass and the like?[36]

If the ground is already anyways very wet due to the rain, then one may be lenient to remove the covering, having the water fall on the ground. If however the ground is not very wet then it is forbidden to be done due to a possible planting prohibition.

[1] 336/9

[2] Lit. Zeraim. Rashi Moed Katan 2b interprets this to mean pouring water over the roots of the plant.

[3] As the water makes the soil soft for planting, as is done by plowing, as well as the water is placed so the seeds grow, which is like planting. [ibid]

[4] Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 18, Upashut.

[5] As nevertheless this matter is an inevitable occurrence. [ibid]

[6] However in such a case that it is not owned by oneself, being that one has no intent at all to cause the plants to grow, it is merely a Rabbinical prohibition, as it is considered a Melacha Sheiyno Tzarich Legufa. [ibid]

Other Opinions: Many opinions rule as do Admur above that even on another’s garden spilling water is forbidden. However there are opinions which are lenient to allow spilling water in a garden which is not one’s own and does not belong to a friend, and hence one has no interest in the benefits gained by watering the garden. The basis behind this dispute is whether we say a Pesik Reishei Delo Nicha Lei [which is not desired by the person] is even initially permitted or not. [M”B 336/27]

A Public garden: A public garden has the same status as personal property as all the garden visitors receive benefit from its growth. Hence according to all it would be forbidden to spill water in such a garden. [Az Nidbaru 6/37]

[7] As urine does not cause further growth of a plant, on the contrary it damages it. [ibid] Nevertheless this is not forbidden due to it being considered as if one is uprooting the plant as the plant has the ability to grow after the initial damage done by the urine. [Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 19]

[8] So learns Ketzos Hashulchan 142/14 in Admur that the warning to beware from even pouring other liquids on grass included also urine.

[9] As only water has the ability to cause further growth of plants. However juice, not only does it not cause further growth of a plant, on the contrary it damages it. [ibid]

[10] Ketzos Hashulchan 142/14

[11] Kaf Hachayim 336/27

[12] Shevisas Shabbos Zoreia 2; Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 18; Kaf Hachayim 336/27

[13] Daas Torah 336/3, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 336/3

[14] Piskeiy Teshuvos 336 footnote 8

[15] Daas Torah 336/3, brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 336/3

[16] Ketzos Hashulchan 130/8

[17] Ketzos Hashulchan 130/8

[18] So rules Peri Megadim

[19] 321/57

[20] As it is considered a Piseik Reisha Delo Nicha Lei.

[21] SSH”K 12/18 in name of Rav SZ”A

[22] As the matter is a mere Grama as it is caused by a Koach Kocho, therefore one may be lenient when he has no intent to do so, even though it is occurring inevitably. [Rav SZ”A ibid]

[23] Az Nidbaru 4/17

[24] See above in footnote that some opinions rule it is permitted to even wash over plants that one does not own as he has no intent to do so and it is not of any benefit. Hence to be stringent even in a case of Grama is a double stringency. However so rules Az Nidbaru ibid that even in such a case it is forbidden.

[25] Shevisas Shabbos Zoreia 2

[26] Based on Ketzos Hashulchan 130/8

[27] As the Peri Megadim leaves this matter in question. According to the one opinion mentioned in 321/16 even entering liquid into a material constitutes kneading. The Peri Megadim leaves in question if even here this would be a problem being that by here he has no intent to knead the material with his saliva, and it’s a case of “Pisek Reshei Dilo Nicha Lei”.

[28] So rules Ketzos Hashulchan [130/8 footnote 22] based on that a) spitting is an irregularity and thus only Rabbinical. B) The amount that can be mixed is less than the Biblical amount needed to transgress kneading. C) Naturally saliva does not sink into material but rather floats over it.

[29] Ketzos Hashulchan 142 footnote 19

[30] Ketzos Hashulchan 142/2 in name of Peri Megadim; Shevisas Shabbos Zoreia 2.

[31] One who does so is Biblically exempt, although it is Rabbinically forbidden.

[32] Lev Chayim 3/69

[33] Sheivet Haleivi 4/36

[34] As preventing the flooding of the plants is considered an act of planting.

[35] 310/10 So rules the Ketzos Hashulchan 113 Halacha 2 like the first opinion in Admur.

[36] Piskeiy Teshuvos 626/6

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.