Watering with Soaker Hose?

aimsterflJuly 6, 2008


Just wondering if anyone waters w/ soaker hoses. I was thinking about setting up soaker hoses with one of those programmable timers at the faucet. How long do you water? I was thinking 15 minutes every morning. Do you leave the water attached to your timer on at all times? Thanks for any feedback!

I also posted this on the square foot garden forum.

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I have left the water on at all times and allowed the timer to control the flow, but I have also gone through 2 sets of leaky faucets including the last set which is designed to be under constant pressure.

The kind designed to be under pressure all the time can be annoying too as they make a lot of noise as they release excess pressure. A creaking sound that can be heard throughout the house. This is new construction too.

Many use soakers in different ways and enjoy them, but I have given up on them as they inevitably clog with hard water deposits over a single season.

Anyway, how often/how long to water really depends on when the plants need water. 15 minutes isn't a very long run time for a soaker and I doubt it would get much water to the root area unless the soil was pure sand. You kind of just have to let them run and check the moisture at 3-6" down every 15 minutes or so to determine an appropriate run time. After that the frequency is determined by how long it takes for the soil to dry down a few inches. Keep in mind the interval changes as temps get warmer/drier and plants larger/thirstier.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:12AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

I have loops of soaker hose in a raised bed border hooked to a battery operated on/off mechansim. There are more loops on one end of the bed where the plants require more water and less loops on the other end for tough things like marigolds.

I have four 25ft hoses end to end on one timer at all times. It has been running once a day for fifteen minutes but temperatures are forecast in the nineties so I may switch to twice a day. My cheaper battery operated timer only has a few options.

The only problem I have had in two seasons is that I once tried to move part of the arrangement in the winter and the hose snapped. I can rearrange the hoses when they have been under the hot summer sun.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:39AM
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My wife has soakers running thruout her flower garden and they work well. A BIG CAUTION - watering frequently encourages roots to stay near the surface and makes them more suceptible to drought. It's much better to water less frequently but more thoroughly to encourage the roots to go deeper to find water. In my area, plants in the ground need about 1 1/2 inches per week (clay soil), which we deliver in two waterings. This changes for pots and raised beds, but I wouldn't water anything but new grass twice/day. You can test by watering for eight hours, then in 3-4 days, dig down six inches and check the soil moisture and adjust as necessary. If your plants are wilted in the morning, you know they need more water.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 11:51AM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

i have over 700' of soakers in my garden. 5 100' rows each have a single 100' soaker run down them. i run my pressure a little higher than recommended, but i get good even coverage all the way down the row. right now, due to heat and plant size, i am running them for 3 hours every other day. another area of the garden i run them only 2 hours every 3rd day. part of my garden is sandy loam, and part is more clayish, so the clay area i can acutally go a little longer between watering.

i switched to 100% soakers a last year after running them in part of the garden and seeing the BIG difference it made in the amount of weeds i had. i don't have a clue how much water they saved over traditional sprinklers since my garden is irrigated via a well, but it has to be a lot.

as stated above, you jsut have to run them for a while and check to see how long it takes to really get put down the water required. then check each day to see when your soil will require it to be applied again. i put mine on a couple of timers, one for the area that gets watered every 2 days, and the other for every 3 days. the larger area i used 1" PVC pipe hooked to a hose and them at each row a tee with a nipple that i clamped the soaker hose on. works great and i can reconfigure it easily if needs change. i did not originally put an individual shut off for each hose, but will do so before next year.

as to the soakers themselves, stay away from teh el cheapos at Wally World. i have a few of them and they water only about the first 25% of length, the rest of the hose stays almost dry! they work a little better with teh plastic regulator removed, but then you have to watch how much you turn on the spigot or they will blow out. i got my hose in a 500' roll off Ebay cheaper than buying a 100' premade hose at wally world. and last year i left the 500' as one hose and it still watered evenly the entire length!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 12:31PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I use lots of timer soaker hose set-ups in both flower and vegetable beds and 15 minutes isn't nearly long enough - their purpose is to deliver water very slowly so in 15 minutes you are giving them minimal water. And as already mentioned, daily watering is a very bad idea for inground plants for many reasons - sometimes necessary for containers but not in-ground plants.

The easiest way I know to determine how long you need to run is to take a tin can - tuna or cat food can works great - bury it in the soil almost up to the rim, drape the hose across it and note the time required to fill the can. The depth of the water in the can will tell you approximately how many inches of water you have delivered to the plants. In my case, in the tomato beds, it takes right at 2 hours to deliver the 1 1/2" of water they need weekly. But that will vary depending on the type and size of soaker hose you use.

Since, depending on the weather and type of soil, most plants need only 1-2" of water a week to thrive a once weekly 2-3 hour watering is all you would need in most cases. Maybe a 2x weekly in extremely hot weather but heavy mulch can cut that need down too.

And since you would be using the hose and timer only 1-2 x a week, then no, you wouldn't want to leave the water on and the timer engaged. ;) Just set it on watering day, let the timer turn it off when done, and then turn off the faucet later that day.

If water starts pooling on the surface you know you need to cut back on the time a bit and if the plants look wilty - increase it a bit.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 12:52PM
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Thanks Everyone for your responses. This was very helpful!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 1:24PM
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I don't care for soaker hose. Drip tape is far superior in performance and cheaper. It can be purchased with different flow rates and a 1000+ ft tape will give you the same flow rate at all points in the tape. Try that with a soaker hose. If you have chewing critter problems it can be easily repaired. I don't think most gardners use it because garden centers don't sell it. However, commercial vegetable growers use it extensively in various parts of the US. The Israelis invented it about 30 years ago or so. The hardest part of using drip tape is finding it in rolls

Here is a link that might be useful: Intro to drip irrigaton

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 5:18PM
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I would be very interested to know the Brand Name of the 500 ft length soaker hose you got on eBay. I am having trouble getting even distribution of flow with the 50ft hoses I get from Big Box.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2008 at 8:35PM
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Me too. I'm planning some rather ambitious raised beds for next year and I definitely want to employ some kind of system to water the plants that doesn't involve me standing there with a garden hose for a long time.

Soaker hoses definitely come in different qualities, and anything less than premium hoses aren't even worth rolling out.

I'm also interested in the drip tape michael357 mentioned. Sounds like good stuff.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 6:20PM
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davidandkasie(Z8 MS)

i just looked and the guy i bought it from no longer sells on ebay. i got 1/2"x500' roll and i paid 53.00 shipped to my door. it did not come with connectors, but they are only a dollar or so each at wally world or lowes.

my wally world hoses would blow out constantly and never would give even coverage. the hose i got online has had on a couple blow outs, and those were caused by an errant blow with the hoe. and like i said, even with the full 500 ft uncut it gave even flow. it did take a few minutes for the water to reach the far end, but once it got there it watered evenly.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:32PM
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I use drip tape in my garden and it works great for straight rows, but it does not bend well like a soaker hose but kinks instead. It will work with a few bends, but for beds were the hose is meandering around from plant to plant -as in the wife's flower garden, it's doesn't do that well. So I use drip tape and she uses soaker hoses. If you decide to use drip tape, make sure you get the pressure regulator and filter that are needed. For row crops, it is very easy to use and many times cheaper than soaker hoses. If you have lots of row crop farmers in your area, the local farmers supply will likely carry it.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2008 at 9:13AM
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Good to know grandpop1.

davidandkasie - is there a brand name or something for that soaker hose?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 11:28PM
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