You can use softened water for gardens, but it might be advisable to limit the amount. In the UK, an increase in sodium in the soil is unlikely to cause a problem for plants, because of the amount of natural rainfall we get to dilute it. As long as your garden and pots are well drained, there should not be any significant sodium build-up.
During a very dry period, you may prefer to avoid using softened water in the garden as it could, in theory, build up sodium levels in soils that might be damaging to some types of plants. The impact will depend on how much softened water you’re using for watering, for example, if you use a garden hose for softened water in large volumes. It’s hard to find specific information from gardening experts about how much sodium might cause a problem, nor which plants are potentially affected.
The RHS recommends using stored rainwater as the first choice for watering your garden. If you have space for a water butt in your garden, it can collect water from your gutters. Many water butts have a tap that can dispense the stored water into a watering can, or you can connect a hose. This is a great way to irrigate your plants sustainably – and if your mains water is metered, it will cut costs too.
Bypassing outdoor softened water taps
If your outside tap is fed with softened water, you can still use hard water for watering when you need to. Open the bypass valve and shut the inlet and outlet. This allows hard water to flow through your tap. Refer to the instruction booklet you received when your softener was fitted for further details. (If you don’t have it any more, please get in touch and we’ll arrange to send you one.) Remember to reverse this procedure when you have finished watering the garden with unsoftened water, to make sure your system is processing softened water again.
In some cases, we can fit your water softener in such a way that it doesn’t supply your outdoor tap. But this will depend on how your water system is arranged – for example, where the outdoor tap is in relation to your main stopcock. Talk to your demonstrator or installer about this when they visit or call you.
Our water softeners help you around the home in so many ways. Softened water can prevent limescale build-up in taps, pipes and appliances. Many people think it tastes better than hard water, and it’s much softer on skin.