Soaker hoses help keep gardens healthy

If you live in a climate where drought is an issue (and who in the US didn’t this year) and have a relatively small space you’re trying to keep healthy, it pays to invest in some soaker hoses. If you buy the right ones and care for them properly, they will last for many years.

soaker hoses can help herbs too
Soaker hoses can help herbs thrive too

After sampling an alternative to sprinklers, you’ll never go back. Here’s why soaker hoses are so much better than sprinklers:

  • Water is not wasted. You can direct what you need and when you need it to the plants you’re trying to keep healthy.
  • Soaker hoses provide a much more effective method that encourages deep and healthy root growth
  • Using watering systems that hydrate the ground without whipping through the air helps you to avoid many of the disease problems associated with water on leaves at the wrong time of day.
  • Targeting where water can help reduce weeds in areas where you do not.

We’re working with about an acre of planted vegetables and herbs at Halcyon Acres®, so for this size garden, soaker hoses make sense. What didn’t was dragging hoses daily around to new areas (chock it up to another lesson learned the hard way), so we invested in a system that allowed us to lay the lines along the roots of plants in sections so it was merely a matter of connecting the source hose to the area needing water.

You’ll need to experiment with what lengths make the most sense (it depends a bit on how far you’re pumping the water, your line size, your water source and the soaker hoses you choose), but we’ve found 150 feet of soaker hose per section to be the most effective distance.

After tossing a lot of choices that broke, leaked or didn’t work for other reasons, we’ve found the flat (these are reinforced with a plastic support), cloth covered to be the best. They’re generally sold in 75-foot lengths for about $15 each in the US. We haven’t had one of these break on us yet (they do occasionally get small leaks, but nothing like the round hoses that become gushers without notice). All of the others recently purchased have been in less than a season. So, in terms of money spent, you don’t save anything going with a cheaper solution.

Five tips on using flat soaker hoses:

  1. Make sure each soaker hose has a cap on one end when you buy them. These are sometimes removed (by customers, I guess) and without it, you can only use the product attached to another.
  2. Buy the style with a swivel on each end (these are usually green) so that you can easily attach the hose to others without twisting.
  3. When you unwrap and uncoil the hose do so from the outside of the roll (otherwise they get twisted and kink).
  4. When attaching to another soaker hose or the water supply, turn the swivel with each twist as you connect. This will avoid twists in the hose that are more difficult to straighten after fully attached.
  5. Roll the hoses up onto a wheel (there are hose reels designed for this that are relatively inexpensive) at the end of the season. These hoses do not winter well tied with string or looped over a hook. Make sure they’re flat as you wrap them around the spool.

Soaker hoses can make a huge difference between a successful year of gardening and a disappointing one.

Have you found a product that works really well for you? Please share in the comments below. Also, if you liked this article and would be kind enough to use the share bar (to the left of this article), I’d sure appreciate the Tweet, Like or Linked In post. Thanks!

nlevin

Growing chemical-free produce can be a spiritual experience. Join me as I discover and share the secrets to making it work on a tiny plot of suburban land in Roanoke as I try to adapt what I learned during 20 years on over 100 acres rural in New York.

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4 thoughts on “Soaker hoses help keep gardens healthy

  1. Now might be a good time to purchase for next season. We might be able to find a little discount as it is the end of the season. Great tip, I wish I had done that this season. I will probably be able to get by with a couple of shorter lengths.
    Thanks
    Chef William recently posted..Chili with BeansMy Profile

    1. That’s a good point, Chef William – at least with online purchases. Around here the stock in retail outlets was gone by July (probably a lot more buying than anticipated with no rain). Thanks for stopping in and commenting.

    2. so many factors to coinedsr. I would try leaving it run for about 45 minutes, then check and see how far it has penetrated the soil. If it is wet about an inch deep, you have a good saturation rate. The time of day also matters so I would run the hoses very early in the morning so that all moisture has a chance to evaporate from the leaves before night fall and you don’t run the risk of mold and dungus growth. At my place, in Southern Illinois, we have everything set up on a timer and everything gets watered twice a day, for about 30 minutes each time. This has worked out great for years. We also have about 300 plants all total so there is a significant amount of water being used. Just be sure not to underwater the plants or the roots will curl toward the surface to try and gain moisture, causing the plants to become weak and suseptible to all kinds of disaster.

      1. Thanks for your comment, John. Right – there’s a lot to consider with soaker hoses and the soil. I haven’t found wet leaves to be an issue with this method of watering.

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