Plants need to get the right amount of water to their roots to take up nutrients and carry out many essential functions. Many gardeners and farmers try their best to avoid getting water on the leaves of their plants, since that water is wasted and can cause diseases on the plant. Methods of keeping water off of the leaves of the plant include using a soaker hose and a drip irrigation system. These systems are usually used for watering trees, shrubs, vegetable gardens and flower beds.
Both soaker and drip irrigation methods reduce the amount of water that is used. In both cases, the water never has a chance to evaporate. Drip and soaker irrigation systems also keep the soil cool, which is beneficial during times of the year when the soil tends to be very hot, since plants usually grow better in cooler soil. The soil also does not become as compacted when the water is slowly introduced to the soil by the soaker hose or the drip irrigation system. In combination with mulch, drip and soaker systems generally produce plants that grow larger and faster. Plants are also safe from diseases that are caused by moisture.
Drip irrigation systems can keep areas moist that need to be moist, while not moistening other areas. This can lead to a reduction in the number of weeds growing, since these weeds will have less moisture to survive on, according to the University of Rhode Island. In contrast, soaker hoses fill the entire area with water, which is fine for irrigating smaller areas but can cause some areas to become irrigated unnecessarily, leading to more weed growth.
Soaker hoses are much cheaper and easier to set up than drip irrigation systems, according to the University of Rhode Island. The hose simply needs to be run along areas that need watering.
The drip tape found with the drip irrigation system does not photo-degrade and is thus more durable than the soaker hose. Some areas of the soaker hose can get clogged as soil repeatedly gets wet and then dry again. Therefore, some areas can eventually stop releasing water, which can cause the plants in those areas to not receive adequate water.
The soaker hose is often made out of recycled materials such as old tires, which makes the soaker hose better for the environment, since it reduces the amount of waste. Soaker hoses can even be made from old garden hoses, according to the Good Human. Drip irrigation hoses, on the other hand, are often commercially purchased systems made of drip tubes--which extend to the plant's roots--and emitters--which are attached to the drip tubes and slowly drip water on to the plant's roots. According to the University of Rhode Island, the drip tubes are made out of polyethylene plastic.