A soaker hose is a tube with pores distributed across its surface and a cap at the end. When water is flowing from one end while barred at the other, it pushes through the pores creating a consistent micro-shower that is ideal for watering plants and irrigating home gardens. But do soaker hoses need pressure?
Soaker hose requires a pressure of about 8-10 psi (pounds per square inch) of water pressure to function properly. However, common home water pressure is closer to 50 psi. Keeping the water pressure low is the best option to avoid damaging the hose.
By merely adjusting the tap to which it is connected, one can manually bring the water flow to the appropriate pressure so that the plants are watered evenly without damaging the hose. In this article, you will learn about water pressure and soaker hoses as well as the best practices for operating and maintaining your soaker hose.
How Much Pressure Do Soaker Hoses Need?
The water pressure required by a soaker hose depends on the length of hose. If your soaker hose is under a hundred feet, the appropriate pressure would be ten psi (pounds per square inch).
You can purchase a water pressure gauge to figure out the right tap knob position for optimal pressure. Alternatively, you can use the garden tap at the lowest possible flow and see whether the tube is soaking across its length or not.
You can, then, manually bring up the flow till the pores are dispersing the right amount of water. If you are choosing to use manual testing as the method to decide the right water pressure, do not start at the highest because high pressure can damage your soaker hose. At this point, it is worth discussing whether soaker hoses are worth buying or not.
Are Soaker Hoses Any Good?
Like any other tool, soaker hoses are good or bad, depending on your objective. If you want to water shrubs and perennial beds, soaker hoses are great. That is because the water does not need to go too deep into the soil to reach the kind of greenery you have.
However, if the plants in your garden have deep roots and need the soil to get thoroughly drenched, a garden hose and sprinkler may be the better choice.
I wrote a full article on the differences beweent soaker hoses and sprinklers! Check it out here.
Beginner-friendly setup requirements and overall ease of use make soaker hoses the superior choice, in general, for home gardening.
Most house plants and home gardens do not require the water to seep any deeper than four inches. That is why the limitation of soaker hoses in watering beyond a few inches does not get in the way of them being ideal for most home gardens.
You can get good quality soaker hoses here on Amazon for about 20 – 30$.
Do You Have To Bury Soaker Hoses?
The reason soakers are unable to water any deeper than a few inches beneath the soil is because they are not built to be buried. In sandy regions like California, you can bury your hose without the pores getting clogged.
But if the soil has a high concentration of clay, it will form a layer around the buried soaker tube and jam the pores.
If you wish to bury the hose for aesthetic reasons, you can lay it on the surface and cover it with mulch. Doing that will not interfere with the soaker’s function while hiding it from view. More importantly, it will keep the hose accessible for servicing, pore check-ups, and reorganizing purposes.
Can Soaker Hoses Be Connected?
One way to reorganize your irrigation is by extending it. As long as there is a cap at one end, several soaker hoses can be connected to create a larger system. That said, it is essential not to extend the chain beyond a hundred feet as that compromises the water pressure and, consequently, it’s even distribution.
Since the hose is not permanently connected to the tap, one tap can supply multiple chains of hoses for the required period.
How Long Should You Leave Soaker Hoses On?
The required watering period depends entirely on the type of soil, conditions of climate, and the size of your garden. You should experiment till you find the balance, but a good starting point is to run your soaker hose two times a week for thirty minutes.
After each time you water the garden, test for the depth of soil soaked. If the water hasn’t seeped deep enough, you should leave the water running longer than thirty minutes. when the water has reached the right depth, you should note the time as the optimal time to keep the soaker hose on. Figuring out the optimal time will be a crucial factor in conserving water.
Always check to see what type of plants you are trying to water with the soaker hose as well. For example, if you are growing tomatoes that love being watered, you could probably run the hose for several hours a day.
On the other hand, should you attempt running the same soaker hose for the same time with cucumber plants, and you’ll kill them from over-watering. Knowing how much water each species you are growing prefers is essential to a correct watering regiment.
Do soaker hoses use less water?
Because of the size of the pores and direct-to-roots irrigation, soaker hoses are ideal for conserving water. Not only are the watering pores small, but the water pressure used is also minimal.
A soaker hose results in a smaller GPH (gallons per hour) rate than one would encounter with a regular hose and sprinkler (they can be up to 80% more efficient, as I explain in this article here). The alternative options use excessive amounts of water, of which not all benefit the garden.
For instance, hand-watering your vegetables will leave potentially too much water on the surface, and it will get evaporated before it ever reaches the plants’ roots. On the other hand, a garden hose will water the roots but soak parts of the soil that aren’t benefiting the plants. To preserve water optimally, you should select the right type of soaker hose.
Are There Different Types Of Soaker Hoses?
Soaker hoses generally come in two different shapes and two material categories. The materials include rubber and plastic/vinyl, while the shapes they are available in are round and flat. This gives you four options of soaker hoses, listed as follows.
- Flat Vinyl/Plastic Soaker Hose
- Flat Rubber Soaker Hose
- Round Vinyl/ Plastic Soaker Hose
- Round Rubber Soaker Hose
What Should I Look For In A Soaker Hose?
When looking at options to purchase a soaker hose, you should look for the durability of material and irrigation efficiency of the hose’s design. Rubber hoses are the best in terms of longevity. They are also usually environment friendly as they are made from recycled materials (like tires).
When you purchase a rubber soaker hose, you do not have to worry about the water pressure wearing out the tube or the sun exposure damaging it. A rubber hose will last multiple seasons, whereas a plastic or vinyl hose may take sun damage sooner.
Neither round nor flat soaker hoses are inherently better. Which hose is right depends solely on the layout of your garden and how you plan to position the soakers. Generally, flat soakers have pores on one side while the round soaker hoses have them throughout and around the surface. Therefore, a flat soaker hose is best suited for one row of plants, while grass, shrubs, and multiple rows of plants can be watered with a single sound soaker hose.
You should also consider your budget for the purchase. Rubber soaker hoses are relatively expensive. The plastic options, on the other hand, are cheaper. And yes, you get what you pay for.
If you are purchasing the hose for temporary irrigation of up to a year, a plastic hose may be the right fit. Aside from budget, material, and design, there is an array of features you may want to consider.
- Is it clog-resistant? Pores of poorer-grade soaker hoses can clog up within a week of purchase. That is why you should look at reviews to see whether anyone has complained about clogging and whether they have mentioned a time-frame.
- Does it split or tear? It is crucial to prevent tears or splits from forming on the soaker hose. A single tear can render the entire tube useless since the hose relies on pressure to push water out of the pores. Flat soaker hoses are known to crack.
- How DIY is my project? If your garden is an elaborate shape or you plan to customize the irrigation structure, it is advisable to purchase a cut to length hose. You can cut the appropriate lengths from the roll and use fittings to connect them according to the layout of your garden. Make sure that the total length does not exceed one hundred feet.
To summarize, your buying journey for a soaker hose starts with knowing whether or not it is the right fit for you. If your plants, grass, or shrubs or perennial beds soak up water from just under a few inches of soil, then you should consider getting a soaker hose.
It is important to know the material and make that best fit your garden as well. For a single row of plants, a flat hose will work because it features pores on only one side of the tube. On the other hand, the round hose will soak water around the entire surface.
In terms of material, rubber is more durable, while plastic is relatively cheaper. Your budget and the longevity you expect from your hose will guide you towards the right purchase.
Once you have bought the soaker hose, it is advisable to experiment with water pressure starting at the lowest possible setting. If the pressure is too high, especially with a plastic or vinyl hose, tears may occur on the tube and render it useless.
It is also important not to bury the hose in clayish soil as the pores might clog. Ideally, you would place the hose on a level surface and cover it with mulch. You would also experiment with water frequency and time to find the right fit for your garden.