Our Guide To Watering Your Lawn With
Hard & Soft Water
We’re not about to claim that cars and lawns are anything like each other, but they are kind of like each other. Just hear us out, okay. In the same way cars need to be looked after in a hundred different ways before they can purr like a panther and drive like a dream, lawns need a lot of attention, treatments and love too. If you want them to be healthy, that is.
From applying fertiliser to getting rid of your thatch, dealing with soil compaction to keeping your lawn trimmed throughout the warmer months. And let’s not forget about regularly watering your grass to make sure your plants are healthy and roots are deep. The question is: what kind of water is coming out of your hosepipe?
Yepp. That’s right. The water you use will have an impact on the health of your lawn. In short, if your water is too hard or too soft, your grass may not be as lush and green as you’d like. This is because both extremes will impact the nutrients entering your soil.
So with that in mind, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about watering your lawn with hard & soft water:
The Difference Between Hard & Soft Water
The first thing you need to understand is how they are different, which is almost exclusively to do with minerals. Water with lots of minerals is hard and water with less minerals is soft. But while hard water is the most common (and the most popular), rainwater is actually soft. However, when it lands in your garden and starts making its way through your soil, it begins collecting different minerals en route, such as magnesium and calcium, and other heavy minerals, turning it harder and harder as it goes on.
Pros & Cons of Hard Water
There is no denying the pros of using hard water on your lawn, not least of which is the high levels of magnesium and calcium that provide essential nutrients to both your soil and the grass roots. That said, if the concentration of minerals is too high then this water can actually start having a harmful effect on your lawn.
The best way to check whether your water is too hard is to look at the sinks in your home because an excess of calcium can cause a visible buildup around your drains and plugholes. Yep, we’re talking about those hard-to-remove stains that can take over your fixtures.
Should this level of hard water be used on your lawn, you’ll probably start to notice certain signs of stress, which are caused by the excess of magnesium and calcium. What happens is, because these minerals are so concentrated, they prevent other necessary minerals from being available to your lawn, thus increasing the risk of chlorosis. Translation: your lawn will turn yellow.
Pros & Cons of Soft Water
First things first, it’s way more unlikely for soft water to cause chlorosis, so you don’t need to worry about too many heavy minerals slipping into the soil. Of course, the downside to that is the fact soft water also lacks a lot of other essential nutrients that your lawn would love to enjoy.
What’s worse than the lack of minerals and nutrients, however, is that regularly watering your lawn with soft water can actually wash away the minerals and nutrients found in your topsoil, in turn depriving your soil of all that healthy nutrition and nourishment that it needs to grow a healthy, lush-looking lawn.
And it doesn’t stop there because the main nutrient found in soft water is sodium, and while the amounts of this mineral are only miniscule, too much of this sodium will have a pretty negative effect on the biodiversity of your soil.
Understanding What Water You Have
The easiest way to know what kind of water comes out of your taps is to taste it. If it tastes pretty normal, you’ve probably got a pretty balanced source of H20. If you get a metallic taste, however, it’s most likely too hard and, if it’s got a saltiness to it, your water’s probably too soft.
The other way of deciphering what kind of water you have is to go into your garden and look at your lawn. Yellow grass suggests your water is too hard and a lawn that doesn’t grow very much suggests soft water.
And if you still can’t be sure, then we suggest you get your water tested, in which case you have three main options: hire a water treatment specialist, call in a plumber or buy a DIY water testing kit. The choice is yours.
Tips For Watering Your Lawn With Hard Water
If your water is really hard (like Tyson Fury hard), then we recommend you avoid watering your lawn as the excessive amount of minerals will actually limit any other nutrients having an impact, resulting in chlorosis. To put it another way, too much magnesium and calcium will prevent iron and nitrogen from getting to your roots.
To counteract this, you can use a nitrogen-based lawn fertilised (at least twice a year) to restore the balance and get your grass looking green again.
Another treatment that will help improve your soil is core aeration, which enhances the amount of must-have nutrients (like those found in rainwater) that get deep into your soil, reducing the risks associated with hard water.
And last but not least, you could use a water softener to reduce the levels of magnesium and calcium that make it into your soil.
Tips For Watering Your Lawn With Soft Water
The big issue with soft water is the increased build-up of salt in the topsoil, especially during those warm summer months with less rainfall as this sodium will slow down the speed at which your grass grows.
The solution: applying a liquid fertiliser that contains gypsum roughly twice a year, which will help break down those salt deposits and reduce the harm of soft water.
Another good option is to aerate your lawn, which will improve both the water and air circulation, allowing essential nutrients to get to the roots while also preventing that sodium from building up to a harmful level.