Soaker hoses are an inexpensive way to add a drip-system to your garden or landscape.
While many gardening aficionados dream of The Perfect Drip System, most of us have neither the time or the money to do so. Also, drip emitters can clog and they require regular monitoring and maintenance. Hm, maybe they’re not so perfect after all, eh? Soaker hoses give similar results for far less money.
How do soaker hoses work?
Soaker hoses look just like other garden hoses, except they have thousands of tiny holes, or pores, in them. These holes allow irrigation water to slowly ooze out, along the length of the hose, dripping water where your plants need it most.
I know that many of us enjoy a certain sense of tranquility, strolling through the garden, hose in hand, dispensing life-giving water as we go. Unfortunately, hand watering isn’t nearly as efficient as we would like to think. [Next time you hand water, take a trowel to the area and see just how much water actually made it to a root zone.] Also, overhead watering increases the chance of many fungal diseases.
Benefits of watering with a soaker hose
A well designed watering system can use 30 to 50% less water and get better results. Other benefits of watering with a soaker hose include:
Choosing the right soaker hose
Like most garden hoses, the majority of soaker hoses currently available contain lead and other potentially toxic chemicals. Many of them are made from ground up old car tires, which doesn’t strike me as very appetizing. While they do cost more, I use food-grade hoses in my garden. Food grade garden hoses are becoming more readily available and prices are slowly coming down as they sell enough of them to cover their costs and make a decent living. They even come in pretty colors! You can find soaker hoses with built in pressure valves and quick-release connectors. You can also find soaker hose systems that allow you to connect segments of soaker hose with segments of regular garden hose for more control. Again, make sure that the materials used are durable and food-grade before you use it to water your tomatoes.
How and where to use soaker hoses
Soaker hoses are generally left in place for the growing season. Snake your soaker hose through your vegetable garden, looping around fruit and nut trees, or among your ornamentals. Soaker hoses are an excellent addition to raised beds and straw bale gardens. These tips will help you get the best results from your soaker hose:
Leave soaker hoses running until the water has saturated your plants’ root zones. Since each plant is different, you really should use a trowel to see where the roots are and how deep the water is going. Monitor how long it takes for that much watering to occur, and then you can add a timer to your faucet for added convenience. Just remember that as temperatures rise and plants grow, they will need more water.
It is a good idea to flush out soaker hoses a couple of times a year. To do this, simply take the end cap off and turn the water on. It only takes a minute or two. Then be sure to put the end cap back on!
Invest in food grade garden and soaker hoses for better water efficiency and healthy plants.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!