Similar in appearance to a garden hose, a soaker hose releases water through tiny holes that permeate its surface. With the holes facing downward, water seeps out slowly and at an even rate, irrigating plants by delivering water directly to their roots.The most commonly used soaker hoses are made of recycled rubber, and are pliable so that they can easily be laid out between plants and narrow rows.
Soaker hoses share many of the advantages of drip irrigation: they maintain consistent soil moisture, and minimize plant diseases that result from overly damp plant leaves, stems or fruits. Also like drip irrigation, soaker hoses are more efficient than a sprinkler system, given that there is no water lost to evaporation or runoff. However, because water is emitted along the entire length of the hose, it is not as efficient as drip irrigation systems that function to direct water as precisely as possible.
With fewer components, soaker hoses are easier to install and cheaper than drip irrigation systems.Soaker hoses are ideally used on flat surfaces, and among closely spaced crops. When installing your soaker hose, be aware of the following:
- Without a filter, hard water can clog the tiny holes and cause increased water-pressure, potentially ending in a rupture of the hose
- Saker hoses can be mulched over, but the hoses can be a trip hazard if not properly fastened down (try U-shaped metal landscaping pins, every two feet).
- A soaker hose should not be used to irrigate plants, trees, or shrubs that are spaced far apart because the area in between the plants will be unnecessarily watered.
How to install
1. Draw a layout of your garden, noting the distances from the spigot to the garden beds and the length/width of your property. Draw the hose and fittings on the yard plan.
2. Total up the number of feet of soaker hose in your system and make a list of the fittings needed to connect everything together. Purchase the total length of hose needed for your project, and as you install the system, cut off lengths of hose needed to fit your layout.
3. Like the drip irrigator, you will need a number of parts including the soaker hose(s), a filter, connectors to put the whole thing together, and a pressure regulator and timer if you wish.
4. Once you get the parts together, lay them out. Conceal the hose by burying it under mulch or wrapping it loosely beneath the base of shrubbery. Or, dig a shallow ditch, place the hose in it and cover it with dirt or mulch. Connect everything together with “tee” connectors except for the end caps, which seal off the ends of the hoses.
5. Hook your system to the yard faucet and let the water run full force for several minutes to flush out the system. Then turn the water off and install the end caps at the ends of the soaker hose. Turn the water back on and you check for leaks at the fittings. You can then adjust the water flow from the house to provide the recommended flow rate through the system, or consider the option of a pressure regulator.
Garden Hints The system works best when hose is less than 50 ft, or else there may be uneven water distribution.Soaker hoses work best when laid on flat, level surfaces. They should not be buried; cover with mulch instead. Soaker hosesshould be kept 18 inches apart to ensure entire bed gets even amount of water.