Softened Water

Asked September 16, 2014, 8:40 AM EDT

Hi- I live in NC and have hard well water. Our spigot, which is used for watering our garden, pulls water through the salt-based water softener. Is it preferable to use softened water or hard water? If the answer is hard water, how important is it as I would have to re-route the pipe-- it is not a huge job but certainly will cost some money and only want to do it if it is really important.

Thank you.

irrigation and water management drinking water irrigation

1 Response

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Hard water contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium and lime. Softening water removes these minerals, replacing them with sodium ions. The amount of sodium added to softened water is very small. However, trace amounts of salt over a period of time are cause for concern. I would suggest that you limit softened water use in your garden to occasional waterings during a dry spell. Gardeners in climate zones with high rainfall have less need for concern when using softened water in the garden because as rain leaches and washes sodium away from the soil. The lack of minerals in softened water will not harm the garden. Softened water provides zero benefit for garden plants, so you should water them with hard water over the long term. When using soft water the rate of calcium, sulfur, and magnesium may need to be replaced because they are essential and garden plants absorb these minerals from the soil. You may want to monitor you soils with a soil test from the NCDA to check soluble salt levels. If salt levels are to high, heavy watering with hard water and rainfall can help

I wish I had better news, but the decision is yours.