Do you hand-water your yard in the summer? Have you ever wondered if there is a better way to enjoy a beautiful, lush yard without spending back-breaking hours working through the blistering heat of summer? While a flower garden irrigation system might seem like a huge investment, a soaker hose allows you to achieve many of the same benefits for a fraction of the cost.
Using a soaker hose around your yard will save you water, time and even money.
Learn everything you need to know about soaker hoses: what they are, how to install them, where to put them how to use them on specific plants and all the benefits they have to offer.
What Are Soaker Hoses?
A soaker hose is exactly what it sounds like – a hose that soaks the area around it. Unlike a traditional hose, soaker hoses are porous, so water can gently seep out along the entire length of the hose. Their efficiency is undeniable, as they deliver moisture straight to a plant’s base, without wasting a drop of water in the process.
Regular, pour-over watering can result in water evaporating or running off before it reaches a plant’s thirsty roots. Some studies have shown that a soaker hose can use anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less water!
How to Install Your Soaker Hose
Installing a soaker hose is simple – just follow these 6 steps:
- If your soaker hose is brand new, unwind it and leave it in the warm sun for an hour or so. This will loosen the tight coil the hose has been wound in, making placement much easier.
- Remove the end cap and hook the soaker hose up to a water source.
- Run water for several minutes to flush the hose. It’s best to flush new hoses before using them and again one or two times each year to remove any debris that has built up.
- Replace the end cap.
- If the garden area to be watered is close to a faucet, the soaker hose can be connected directly to the spout. However, if more length is needed before the soaker hose will reach the area it will water, a regular garden hose can be connected to the main water source first. Then the soaker hose can be connected from the far end of the garden hose.
- Stretch the hose out and turn the water on, adjusting the pressure until you see a slow but steady drip.
Where to Place Your Soaker Hose
With some thoughtful planning you can lay a soaker hose to perfectly water your garden or flower bed.
- For flowers, vegetables or shrubs planted in a line, lay the hose straight along the rows. If they are not planted in a straight line, snake the hose in and out around each plant.
- For established plants, hoses should lay about 2 inches from plant stems. For new plants or annuals, closer spacing is suggested, since their roots are shallower.
- Make extra loops around any plants that need more water.
- If you have sandy soil, your hose should wind about 1 foot apart from itself in each row or section.
- For clay or loamy soil, space your hose about 2 feet apart.
- Secure hoses in place with garden pins to keep them from shifting.
- Cover soaker hoses with 2 – 3 inches of mulch (not soil) to reduce the amount of moisture lost to evaporation and to protect the hose from sun damage.
Using Soaker Hoses on Various Plant Types
- Bushes and shrubs – Run hoses along the base of each bush or shrub, spacing appropriately according to your soil type.
- Flower beds – Even if you don’t have long, straight rows of flowers, just wind the hose through each plant, keeping it positioned about 2 inches from the stem.
- Containers – Flowers that are contained in raised beds or pots can still take advantage of the convenience a soaker hose has to offer; just wind the hose through the space as you would any other time, paying attention to specifications already noted here regarding soil and plant type.
Connecting Soaker Hoses to Extend the Length
If you are watering a larger flower garden or landscaped area, you may need more than one soaker hose. Keep in mind that while you can connect multiple hoses, the hose closest to the water source will output the most water. The very end of multiple hoses will get much less water, resulting in uneven water distribution that could affect how well plants in those areas grow. Combat this problem easily by setting up “zones” in your yard.
Using Zones: Imagine your yard is divided into zones. Dedicate individual stretches of hose that are no more than 100 – 150 feet for each zone. Use a hose splitter with a shut-off valve to easily switch flow from one hose to the other, distributing water evenly throughout your entire flower garden or yard.
Benefits of Using a Soaker Hose
- Water conservation – Soaker hoses have a slow, steady drip that ensures little to no water is wasted to evaporation or surface runoff. Water goes straight to your plants.
- Prevent overwatering – Soaker hoses make it easy to ensure you are giving your yard the exact amount of water it needs, every time, without risking overwatering.
- Prevent weeds – By only watering the plants you are trying to grow, you are not watering unsightly weeds that you’ll just have to pull later in the season. Water is going straight to the plant, without excess runoff, therefore, the surface soil around the plants stays drier. Weeds won’t get the water they desperately need, and weed seeds won’t sprout as easily or often. This in itself is a major bonus to soaker hoses!
- Quick and productive growth – Regularly irrigating systematically with a soaker hose ensures you are giving even amounts of water to your plants. This will result in faster, more productive growth that isn’t hindered by water stress.
- Healthy growth – Since water is absorbed directly at the soil level, the leaves of your plants won’t end up wet. This can prevent many mildew issues and other foliage diseases, like root and stem rot. Just like too much water on plants can be problematic, so too can too little. Proper amounts of moisture will also keep your plants from wilting.
- Save time and effort – Using a soaker hose system is easy and saves time. No longer will you have to stand out in the sun for hours every day, spraying plants manually. Just set them up, turn on the spigot and watch them water.
Soaker hoses are a valuable, often overlooked tool for the home gardener. Check out how they can help maintain a healthy, lush, productive garden this year – we promise, once you try a soaker hose, you’ll never go back to the old way of watering!