Soaker hoses are a good way to keep your garden watered. These hoses are made of water-permeable fabrics, perforated recycled rubber, or other porous materials. When attached to a spigot with the water turned on low or medium, moisture droplets weep out along the length of the hose.
Soaker hoses are more efficient than overhead sprinklers because they provide water directly to plant roots. Very little water evaporates and none sprays on plant foliage, which helps discourage diseases. But it may take an hour or more to thoroughly moisten the part of the garden that is in reach of the hose.
Soaker hoses require a little special attention if you want them to work properly. Here are some hints:
- Run soaker hoses straight through the garden. If set to turn or curve too sharply, they will kink and won't fill with water.
- Expect more water to be released from the end closest to the hose and less to be released from the far end.
- If the hose is moistening only one side of a plant root system, move the hose to water the dry side before you consider the job done.
- To determine if the soil has been watered enough, dig into the soil beside the hose. If the water has seeped 12 inches down, it's time to turn off the hose. Remember how long this took for the next time around.
- For faster results, look for flat hoses that are peppered with small holes. Of course, there's a trade-off: These hoses provide water more quickly, but they are not as gentle on the soil.
If you like soaker hose results, you can upgrade to permanent or semipermanent drip irrigation systems. Although more expensive, these systems are custom designed for varying soil types and individual plant water needs. And you won't need to move them around the garden.