Soaker hoses offer a water-saving approach to sustaining your garden. Many different situations are perfect for soaker hoses: hedges, narrow flower beds, your hard-to-reach garden spot. Combined with solid-wall hoses, soakers let you deliver water efficiently, wherever it is needed. Using a soaker hose can increase support for your garden while decreasing water waste.
How Soaker Hoses Work
Soaker hoses may be round---made of ground rubber with small holes all over---or flat, with rows of holes on a single side. Both types of soakers deliver water in steady, small amounts, wetting soil in a narrow area on each side of the hose. Slow delivery means that less water pressure is needed to get water where it's going. In fact, high water pressure can burst a soaker hose. Compared to a solid hose with a spray nozzle, very little water sprays into the air to evaporate. While soaker hoses may have to be run longer than standard hoses, most users experience an overall reduction in water use.
Where Soakers Work Best
Long, narrow areas are a soaker hose's forte, whether you water long rows of vegetables or the furrows between rows. Lay your soaker hose at the roots of your hedge to assure that all the plants get an even supply of water. Circle your soaker hose around the base of a new tree or shrub; in prolonged heat, give your mature trees and shrubs similar treatment. Lay a soaker hose in any level, hard-to-reach bed for the whole season and leave the connector where you can reach it with your solid hose.
Where Soakers Need Help
Unless the outside water tap is located directly next to or in the bed you want to water, use a solid hose between the soaker and the tap, to prevent water waste. If you must use a soaker on a slope, use a solid hose to bring water to the top of the slope, then let the soaker carry it down. Gravity is a definite consideration when using a soaker on a slope; avoid doing so unless you can tolerate uneven watering.
Soakers also do poorly in very hot climates unless sheltered. Intense sunlight increases the deterioration rate of the rubber or plastic, and hot dry air allows evaporation even as water flows from the soaker hose. Some gardeners report good hot-weather results with soakers covered with landscape fabric and a layer of wood chip or shredded bark mulch. Such an arrangement, however, needs to be set up at the beginning of the growing season. Consider doing this to sustain large, established plantings such as big shrubs or ornamental trees.
No Soaker for This Job
While soaker hoses are extremely versatile, they are not recommended for lawn watering. Use soakers in small grassy areas that need reseeding; consistently moist soil will help seed germinate. For overall watering, however, use the sprinkler.