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How to Fertilize With a Soaker Hose

Outside Hose image by Janet Wall from

If you are trying to conserve water or want to water plants in drought conditions, a soaker hose is a viable alternative to a sprinkler system. A soaker hose is a perforated garden hose that leaks water through its sides as the water moves through the hose. The hose can be placed over the root system of pants or buried beneath a layer of mulch to provide water right at the roots of a plant without the amount of evaporation present in sprinklers. You also can fertilize plants with liquid fertilizer and a soaker hose.

Select a fertilizer injector formulated for drip irrigation systems. Ordinary fertilizer injectors rely on high water pressure to mix the fertilizer, which a drip system will not have.

Pour a concentrated, balanced fertilizer (10-10-10) into the holding tank of the fertilizer injector. Do not mix the fertilizer with water; the fertilizer injector does the mixing for you.

Connect a backflow preventer to an external faucet spigot. Many fertilizer injectors have a backflow preventer included in their system.

Connect both the inflow hose and outflow hose from the fertilizer to the backflow preventer.

Attach the soaker hose to the open end of the backflow preventer. Wind the hose around the root system of the plants you want to water. Turn on the hose to water and fertilize the plants.

Soaker Hose

Before the invention of the soaker hose, overhead sprinklers were the main type of irrigation device, but they created puddles and erosion problems. Place it against the stem of a perennial and you create a haven for disease. Keep in mind water disperses further out on clay soil than on sandy soil, but a little experimentation will help you find the right spot. Covering the hose with 2 inches of mulch helps slow the buildup of mineral deposits in the hose from water. Hold the soaker hose in place by using landscape fabric pins. If you have multiple areas to water, install a Y valve on the faucet and only water one area at a time for optimum pressure. A soaker hose works well for getting water to plant roots, but knowing how long to run it to thoroughly wet the soil can be tricky. In hillside gardening a soaker hose helps prevent erosion. Place it uphill from the plants you want to water because water rolls downhill.


Connect a timer to the backflow preventer to automate the soaker hose system. Read the instructions that come with the fertilizer injector system. Most systems can work with a maximum of 50 feet of soaker hose. The fertilizer is applied in such a dilute form you can use it each time you water the plants.

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