If you’re looking for a way to water your garden that’s easy, efficient, and hands-off, but you are hesitant to put the time and money into an irrigation system, using a soaker is a perfect solution for you.
Soaker hoses are an affordable, effective way to water your garden. Plus, they come with a lot of benefits. Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to know about soaker hoses.
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What is a Soaker Hose?
A soaker hose is an efficient and simple irrigation system that’s useful for anyone with a garden. This unique hose is less expensive than having a real irrigation system installed. Plus, it’s easy to use and convenient to store.
Using a soaker hose has many benefits. They don’t spray like a standard garden hose or sprinkler, so you use less water while making more effective use of the water that you are using.
Because the water oozes out of the soaker hose slowly, there aren’t as many issues with erosion and runoff. Plus, because the water is released at the soil instead of from overhead, you have more control over the amount of moisture.
Since you have more control over how much your garden is being watered and where that water is going, there’s less risk of overwatering, which can help prevent soil-borne diseases and problems with fungus on the leaves.
Soaker hoses may also prevent weeds from growing. Again, because you have precise control over where the water goes, there’s a better chance that weeds outside of the immediate area won’t grow because of a lack of water.
Another benefit to soaker hoses is that they’re time-savers. You don’t have to walk around the garden with a hose or carry around a watering can. If you have a timer on your hose, your garden practically waters itself.
How Does a Soaker Hose Work?
As you can probably tell from its name, soaker hoses soak your plants. Rather than putting out a steady stream of water, the water slowly oozes out as it makes its way along the length of the hose.
Soaker hoses are made of all types of material, from nylon to rubber, but they each have a similar design made of small pores. So, rather than water traveling to the end of the hose, it leaks out slowly along the length of the hose.
Because the water oozes out slowly, the ground has time to slowly soak it. Instead of puddling or producing runoff, the water slowly makes its way into the ground, soaking in deeper and creating less waste.
One of the best things about a soaker hose is that you don’t need any special equipment to use one. They hook up to a regular outdoor spigot. All you have to do is hook it up and turn on the water.
How to Install Soaker Hose in Vegetable Garden?
Before you get started, there are some things to think about to determine the best way to use a soaker hose in your garden. What areas do you need to water? Are you using raised beds or is your vegetable garden planted in the ground?
Although you can piece together a framework that works for any garden, try not to make the hose length too long. Soaker hoses work best when they’re 25 feet long or less. Yes, there are many lengths available, but the longer hoses aren’t as reliable when you get past the 25-foot mark.
That said, installing a soaker hose in a vegetable garden is much easier than you might think. The initial setup takes a while, but it’s all pretty straightforward. Plus, once it’s ready to go, you can leave it in place for the whole growing season.
To get started, you need:
- Enough length of soaker hose to cover the rows of your garden
- Hose couplers and end caps
- A spigot filter (optional)
- A pressure regulator
- Short sections of regular garden hose (if you plan to bypass any areas that do not need watering)
- A timer (optional)
Once you have everything together, the first thing you must do is plan your layout. How large is your garden? How many rows of hose do you need?
Cut the hose to length and create a shape that suits your garden. Use T or L couplers to join the lengths of hose, adding in sections of regular hose if you’re trying to avoid getting certain areas wet.
This part of the process works better if you lay the hoses out in your garden as you go, rather than creating a large hose layout and then trying to get it into place. If you connect as you go, you can be sure you get everything exactly as you want it.
The hoses should tuck in tightly along the rows of your plants. You can leave them on the surface, but they will also work if placed under mulch, which will help retain more moisture.
Using mulch also keeps the hose out of direct sunlight, which can extend the life of your soaker hose.
After you have the hoses laid out and connected properly, add the filter to the spigot if you’re using one, following the instructions on the package. Then, add the pressure regulator and connect the hose.
Here are some other useful tips for how to use your soaker hose:
- As mentioned, soaker hoses work best when they’re about 25 feet long, though you can get them much longer than that. If your vegetable garden is located far away from your outdoor faucet, use a regular garden hose to connect the soaker hose closer to where you need it.
- The length of all of the hoses, even sections of plain garden hose you use to connect your soaker hose, should be less than 100 feet for best results.
- Soaker hoses work best on level ground. Because the pressure is so low, the water does not come out as efficiently when used on a slope or vertically.
- Place the soaker hoses at least 12 inches apart in sandy soil and at least 18 inches apart in firm soil.
- Keep the hoses about one or two inches away from established plants.
- Ensure that the soaker hose is always kink-free.
- We recommend a filter at the faucet to prevent particles from getting into the soaker hose, clogging the small holes.
- While you can place the hose under mulch, avoid burying the hose in the dirt if possible.
- Remember that the material the soaker hose is made of determines how durable it is. For example, vinyl or plastic hoses will not last as long as rubber.
How Much Pressure Does a Soaker Hose Need?
The amount of pressure a soaker hose needs varies depending on the product and the length of the hose plays a big part. That said, most of these hoses run on low pressure. Some are only made for 10 PSI, which is very low, though some are rated a little higher.
This need for low pressure is precisely why it’s a good idea to have a pressure regulator on the spigot. Most outdoor spigots run around 50 PSI, which is way too much for most soaker hoses.
How Long to Run Soaker Hose for Vegetable Garden?
There’s no set answer for how long you have to run your soaker hose. It depends on so many factors, including the type of plants you have, how large your garden is, and your climate.
Most gardeners who use a soaker hose run it for about 30 minutes at a time. Thirty minutes is enough time to adequately saturate the soil without worrying about overwatering or puddling.
A good rule of thumb is to run the hose so you get one inch of water into the ground every week in the spring and two inches in the summer. You should account for rainfall in these totals, too.
Soaker hoses are ideal for vegetable gardens. They make it easy to make sure your garden is getting just the right amount of water. Plus, the water only goes where you need it.
You don’t need to worry about runoff or water puddling, and there is significantly less waste with a soaker hose than a traditional garden hose. Plus, since water is delivered to the ground, close to the roots, water won’t settle and puddle on the leaves, helping to ensure the health of your plants.
A soaker hose gives you all the benefits of an irrigation system without having to invest a lot of money or tear up your yard. Setup is easy, and you can tailor your setup to the specifications of your garden.
You don’t necessarily need a timer, but if you do invest in one, you can make sure that your garden is watered, even when you’re not home. Aim for 30 minutes with each watering. You’ll need to water more frequently in the summer than the spring, but it’s easy enough to make these adjustments.