When it comes to plants, there are two things that matter: sunlight and water. Whether you have a raised vegetable garden or a mixed border of trees, shrubs, and perennials, everything benefits from a regular drink of water during the hot, dry months.
Once the July heat rolls in, however, weekly rainfall is about as likely as a snowstorm in the middle of August. That’s when a soaker hose comes in handy. A soaker hose can reduce the pressure of keeping the garden alive and well by giving users the option to water their plants via a “set it and forget it” watering system.
Ideally, a garden requires about 1 inch of water (per week) to thrive, and a soaker hose is a great way to ensure your plants won’t go without. The best soaker hose may vary from gardener to gardener, depending on budget, dimensions, and whether it will be positioned on top of the soil or buried.
The following list can help gardeners find the best soaker hose for their yard or garden, so read on for top picks and tips on how to keep your vegetation alive and healthy.
- BEST OVERALL: Melnor 86075 86075-12 Flat Soaker Hose 75′
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Gilmour Flat Weeper Soaker Hose
- MOST DURABLE: H2O WORKS Heavy Duty Garden Flat Soaker Hose
- MOST VERSATILE: BUYOOKAY 100ft Soaker Hose for Gardens/Flower Beds
- BEST WATER FLOW: One Stop Gardens FBA_97193 ¾-Inch Flat Soaker Hose
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Soaker Hose
Traditional sprinklers broadcast a spray of water. On a particularly hot day, some water may evaporate before hitting the ground, wasting valuable water. Using a traditional garden hose with an attached nozzle may reduce some water waste, but not all.
With a soaker hose, water soaks directly into the root zone (hence the name), allowing plants to absorb water slowly. Because soaker hoses don’t spray plant foliage, they significantly reduce the risk of plants developing the fungal problems commonly associated with saturated foliage.
Before ordering a soaker hose, consider what it’s made from and whether it’s the right size and type for the intended space.
Soaker hoses are made of recycled rubber, polyurethane, and flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and allow water to seep through tiny perforations directly into the soil around the plants.
High-end soaker hoses may also contain fiber reinforcement, making them durable and suitable for years of use and able to withstand intense water pressure.
Less expensive models may feature thin vinyl and typically last just a single season—or two at the most—but will require replacement when the vinyl becomes brittle or develops cracks.
Size and Weight
Soaker hoses come in a range of sizes, from short 15-foot lengths, which are optimal for small flower beds, up to 100 feet or even longer, making them suitable for large perennial borders or long rows of summer vegetables.
The diameter of the hose can also vary, from ⅜ inch up to 1 inch. Larger-diameter hoses often feature more perforations or weep holes so they can deliver large amounts of water quickly. Larger hoses require more water pressure than narrow soaker hoses. (See the “Pressure Rating” section below.)
The larger the hose, the heavier it will be. A hose’s weight depends on the material the hose is made from. In general, a heavier rubber hose is more likely to stay in place, whereas a lightweight vinyl hose may arc or move under the water’s pressure.
Burying any soaker hose under 1 to 2 inches of mulch will help keep it in place, and the mulch will also help keep moisture in the soil from evaporating.
Flat vs. Round
When choosing between a flat or a round soaker hose, keep the following in mind.
For many gardeners, flat soaker hoses are just the ticket for watering long, straight rows of summer-grown vegetables. Even so, a flat hose has its drawbacks. Rather than weep holes located on all sides of the hose, the holes are typically (although not always) on only one side of the hose.
Winding a flat hose can result in kinks, and a kink can restrict water flow. Flat soaker hoses are available in vinyl, rubber, PVC, and polyurethane. They’re best suited to laying out along straight garden rows rather than snaking around the bases of plants, trees, and bushes.
Round soaker hoses are more versatile because they can be used on straight rows and snaked around various bushes and trees, usually without kinking. Round soaker hoses tend to be more flexible and durable, and while they may be initially more expensive, they often last longer than flat vinyl hoses, so they may pay for themselves in the long run. Both types of hoses can be buried under 1 to 2 inches of mulch.
Expect a typical soaker hose to saturate an average of 6 to 12 inches on either side of the hose. Coverage will also depend, however, on how long the watering cycle lasts. A watering cycle of 1 hour will result in a broader spread of moisture than a cycle of just 30 minutes.
Many soaker hoses don’t come with pressure ratings, but water pressure, measured in pounds per square inch (psi), is still worth considering. The longer and broader the soaker hose, the more water pressure it’ll need to evenly distribute water to the holes at the end of the hose, so it may require the user’s outdoor spigot to produce water up to at least 60 psi.
On the flip side, a short, thin vinyl hose might not withstand 60 psi of water pressure; it might be better suited to just 10 psi of pressure. In general, soaker hoses made from polyurethane, PVC, and rubber will withstand higher pressure than those made from vinyl.
Rather than worrying about the water pressure at the spigot (which, in most cases, is adequate to run a soaker hose, unless it’s unusually low), it’s a good idea for the gardener to experiment a bit when first using the hose.
After laying out a soaker hose and before covering it with mulch, turn on the water—just a bit—and see if it’s enough for water to seep out of the holes at the far end of the hose. If it isn’t, gradually increase the water pressure at the spigot until water comes out of the holes.
Once water flows from the holes, make a mental note of how far the spigot was turned, and use similar pressure each time. Turning up the water pressure full force could create undue stress in the hose, leading to early failure via ruptures.
While relatively rare, anytime a spigot is in the “On” position and a hose (or more likely an underground sprinkler system) is pressurized, there’s a chance the water will backflow from the pressured hose or sprinkling system into the spigot. This can only occur when the spigot is turned on. When it’s in the “Off” position, no water can flow in or out.
The water inside a soaker hose is not considered “potable,” meaning it could be contaminated from soil or fertilizers that entered the hose through its weep holes, making it unsuitable for drinking.
To prevent backflow contamination, users can install a backflow preventer between the spigot and the hose, which will prevent water in the hose from entering the home’s water supply system. Backflow preventers are simple, inexpensive attachments and are well worth the peace of mind they offer the user.
Our Top Picks
Uniform water dispersion is the most important quality to look for, and the best soaker hose will distribute water to all plants along its entire length. Buyers should look for anti-kink technology, leak-free connections, and ensure proper hose length to determine the best soaker hose for their yard or garden.
The Melnor soaker hose is available in several lengths, most notably the 75-foot length, which maintains equal pressure from beginning to end—a difficult thing for longer-length soaker hoses to do. A removable rust-resistant end cap makes it possible to connect additional lengths of soaker hose for larger spaces.
The hose is pliable and soft, making it easy to place around plants, in lawns, or beneath a thin layer of mulch. Unlike traditional hoses that are cumbersome and difficult to store, this soaker hose flattens down and can rest in something as small as a shoebox. Two washers come with the hose to ensure a leak-free seal.
Tight turns are challenging for this hose, which tends to kink, stopping water flow when forced into sharp angles. Using gentle curves to position the hose in different directions gives the best results.
Whether the Gilmour Flat Weeper Soaker Hose lies above ground or beneath a thin layer of mulch, the clog-resistant recycled vinyl ensures continuous water flow and is covered in fabric to protect it from damaging ultraviolet light. The weeping watering method limits the amount of water lost to evaporation so that more water is delivered slowly and gently to plants’ root systems.
This 50-foot hose is lightweight for its size and stores flat, making it easy to position around plants in the growing season and store in the off-season. When in use, the hose fills with water that weeps slowly into the ground.
For best results, use inexpensive 6-inch U-shaped landscape staples to keep the soaker hose in position around seedlings and other plants that could get damaged if the hose shifts. The Gilmour Flat Weeper also is available in 25- and 75-foot lengths.
This tough soaker hose will withstand water pressure up to 60 psi without developing cracks or splits. The H2O WORKS Heavy Duty Soaker Hose is made from flexible, high-tensile PVC, and its flat design disappears once it fills with water.
Under pressure, the H2O WORKS becomes a round soaker hose with weep holes on all sides so, unlike other flat hoses, it’s suitable for winding around the bases of shrubs and trees. When it’s time to store the hose, it flattens once again for easy rolling and takes up minimal storage room.
This resilient soaker hose is 50 feet long and measures ½ inch in diameter. It comes infused with UV protectors to resist damage from harsh sun rays, and it features durable brass end couplings designed to stand the test of time without rusting or warping.
The BUYOOKAY Soaker Hose features a flexible rubber material designed to wind around the bases of bushes or trees without kinking. Alternatively, users can stretch it out straight for watering rows of plants or a perennial border.
This 100-foot soaker hose (other lengths may be available) comes in black, and it contains UV protectors to keep it supple and strong, even when it’s positioned in direct sunlight. It’s made from flexible, recycled rubber and is relatively simple to uncoil once it’s warm.
The hose is ½ inch in diameter and resists kinking, making it well suited for gardens or flower beds that require a hose to wind around them for watering. For ease of placement, lay the soaker hose in the sun on a warm day for 30 minutes to soften it up—this will make it easier to manipulate.
If you want to install a custom drip-irrigation system, the BUYOOKAY hose can be cut and connected via internal hose adaptors and clamps (not included), making it possible to create complex watering configurations.
Many soaker hoses don’t give users control over how fast they emit water from the spigot and distribute it to plants, but the One Stop Gardens Flat Soaker Hose is an exception. Gardeners might want to slow the flow so that plants have more time to fully absorb every last drop.
This 50-foot soaker hose comes with three water restricting washers, each with a different diameter. The largest allows for the greatest amount of water to enter the hose as it leaves the spigot.
The nylon hose is great for winding around new and established beds and works best when anchored in place with landscape staples to avoid damaging young plants and seedlings if the hose shifts.
The Advantages of Owning a Soaker Hose
Directing water to a plant’s roots rather than broadcasting it indiscriminately over the foliage concentrates the water where it’s needed most. It also offers some other benefits.
- Using a soaker hose is a one-and-done operation: Just turn on the water at the spigot for 30 minutes or so; no need to hand-water plants.
- Soaker hoses conserve water so utility bills may be less.
- Since soaker hoses don’t deposit water on the foliage, the risk of fungal diseases is reduced.
FAQs About Soaker Hoses
Conserving water, reducing garden and landscape maintenance time, and improving plant quality are all excellent reasons for wanting to use a soaker hose. New gardeners might also have additional questions.
Q. What is the difference between a soaker hose and a drip hose?
A soaker hose features weep holes along its entire length, while a drip hose features a solid tube with attached drip emitters that can be custom installed to direct water to the base of individual bushes or plants.
Q. How many gallons per hour does a soaker hose use?
Water usage can vary, depending on the soaker hose’s length and type, but in general, a 50-foot hose will distribute approximately 30 gallons of water in 1 hour.
Q. How long should I keep my soaker hose on?
In typical growing situations, running a soaker hose twice weekly for about 30 minutes each time may be sufficient. Water less frequently during a rainy or cool season, and water more often during a drought. Also, consider adding mulch around plants’ bases to keep moisture in the soil from evaporating quickly.
Q. How often should I run my soaker hose?
Twice a week for about 30 minutes each time. It’s usually better to water deeply less often than to water just a bit more frequently.
Q. Can you connect soaker hoses together?
As long as the outdoor spigot has sufficient pressure to deliver water to the end holes on the farthest hose, feel free to connect two or more soaker hoses end to end.