If your lawn needs watering then any means of hydration will be good for the grass, but using a soaker hose is not really an efficient way of doing this.
Soaker hoses are not designed for watering lawns, and are better suited for flower beds, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. To water your lawn you’d be better off using a lawn sprinkler which can deliver a larger volume of water to a wider area of lawn more quickly.
Let’s dive down into this subject in more detail and discover what a soaker hose is and what it does – problems with using one on your lawn – and why you should really use a sprinkler for your grass instead.
What is a Soaker Hose? (And is it Good For My Grass?)
Soaker hoses are different from normal garden hoses. They have holes in them – thousands, maybe millions, of tiny holes. Can you use soaker hoses on your lawn? Sure! But you probably won’t want to – unless you have a hellstrip.
Soaker hoses are designed to weep water along the entire length of the hose. While the hoses can be long, up to 100 feet, the band they water is only a foot wide. So, while soaker hoses are great for small flower beds, lines of trees and perfect for rows of vegetables, they just aren’t practical for lawns.
What Can I Use a Soaker Hose For?
Soaker hoses are a timesaving, money-saving and environmentally friendly way to water flower beds, vegetable gardens, shrubs, and trees. Soaker hoses water plant roots slowly, deeply, and efficiently.
Experts say that watering with a soaker hose will reduce water usage by up to 50%. And – many soaker hoses are made from recycled tires, so hooray for the planet.
Soaker hose watering systems can be simple (one soaker hose) or complicated (several connected hoses), depending on your gardening needs.
Soaker hoses are designed to work at low water pressures. Simply position the soaker hose where your plants, bushes or trees need a good soaking.
If the garden area is right next to your faucet, then simply turn the water on low and leave it. If the garden is far from the faucet, then bridge the distance with a regular garden hose. Here’s a good introductory video.
Let’s say you have five separate garden beds. Try to estimate how much length each bed will need. You can use a length of string or a long, flexible tape measure to help with this. Then buy five separate soaker hoses.
Snake them around the beds, not less than a foot apart (some experts say 2 feet). Then, test the system. Hook up a regular garden hose from the soaker hose to the faucet. Turn the faucet 1/4 turn.
Allow the soaker hose to fill up. After it does, water should seep out along the entire length of the hose. If the hose is spraying out water, turn down the pressure.
Once you have a successful test, you can bury the hose with mulch. Putting mulch over the hose looks nice, keeps the hose out of harsh UV light and cuts down on evaporation. You can use the same length of regular garden hose in turns to reach to the soaker hoses in each garden area.
Soaker hoses come in standard lengths of 25-, 50-, 75- and 100-foot lengths. If your garden beds are not standard lengths, cutting and capping soaker hoses is easy.
Be aware that soaker hoses come in different diameters – make sure that if you are going to need connectors, you buy hoses and connectors with the same diameter.
If you are a gardening wizard, consider customizing soaker hose systems for your garden beds, raised vegetable beds, hoop houses or green houses. This may sound intimidating but DIYing your own watering system is easy and super fun!
Problems With Soaker Hoses
Most complaints about soaker hose systems are that they water unevenly. As mentioned, soaker hoses have millions of tiny holes. Because they are full of holes, there are some key things to consider.
The first thing is – gravity is the law. Be sure your soaker hose system is level, or your watering will be uneven. The next thing is finding a balance between faucet pressure and the length of the soaker hose.
Most water coming out of outdoor faucets has a pressure around 50 psi. That is too much pressure for a soaker hose and can split it. Too much pressure and all the water sprays out the first half of the hose and plants at the end wither.
Soaker hoses need to have a water pressure around 10 to 15 psi. If you have too much pressure, consider buying a low-flow (aka pressure reducer or pressure regulator or water regulator) valve for your faucet. Some new soaker hoses have flow reducers built in.
For those on well water, solids in soaker hoses can be a problem. You may need a filter that attaches to the garden hose.
Soaker hoses are a great solution for flower beds, raised vegetable beds, hoop houses, greenhouses, and lines of trees. Lawns, not so much.
Is a Soaker Hose Better Than a Sprinkler?
Soaker hoses and sprinklers both deliver water, but in different ways. For a large lawn, your best bet for a good watering is a sprinkler, not a soaker hose.
Sprinkler systems tend to squander water because water shooting through the air evaporates. Sprinklers are designed to water large areas in geometrical patterns – but cement sidewalks and driveways can get thoroughly watered too.
Sprinklers are famously inefficient, but sometimes they are the only choice.
How Long Should You Run a Soaker Hose? (How Much Water Do They Use?)
In most climates, soaker hoses should be run for 30 minutes twice a week. Experts recommend setting up an electronically timed system to run in the early morning.
If you are just setting up a soaker hose system, try opening the faucet 1/4 turn. Most household water has too much pressure, so be sure you don’t leave the water on full – you might not like the water bill.
The water won’t start seeping out until the entire length is full of water. Be sure that the entire length of hose is weeping, not spraying.
Check the moisture level after 30 minutes. The soil should be moist down to 4 inches. You can check moisture levels in soil with a spade. sharpshooter, or try using a Popsicle stick or wooden dowel.
Experts say that soaker hoses use 6 gallons of water per foot (of hose) per hour. That means that a 50-foot soaker hose can deliver 30 gallons of water an hour. Of course, the rate depends on how open the faucet is and the diameter of the soaker hose.
Here’s a reference to help you figure out how long you need for different plants.
Can You Connect a Soaker Hose To a Regular Hose?
Oh, heck yeah! In most soaker hose-based watering systems, regular garden hoses transport water and soaker hoses deliver it.
The beauty and fun of a soaker system is you can customize a system for your garden beds. Soaker hoses are easy to cut and connectors are widely available.
Let’s say you need a watering system for vegetables in a raised bed or a hoop house in your backyard. You can DIY a soaker hose system to go down every vegetable row and for all the rows to connect at a central point.
At the central point, you connect your garden hose. The garden hose delivers the water across the lawn to the raised bed soaker system. At the faucet, you can set up an electronic timer, pressure reducer and filter (for well water).
How Many Soaker Hoses Can I Connect Together?
Experts recommend a total soaker hose length of no more than 100 feet. But it also depends on your water pressure. If your home has low pressure, then water won’t get to the end of that 100-foot length.
Soaker hoses come in several lengths. Your best bet is to purchase the hose that fits your garden best, then hook it up with a normal hose to reach the faucet.
Or, buy a large length and cut it up into custom lengths for each flower bed or vegetable garden. Finish off with garden hose connectors and end caps.
Ultimately, while soaker hoses are an efficient way of dripping water to the roots of plants and trees in flower beds and vegetable patches – they are not a good option for lawns.
Watering your grass is so much easier with a sprinkler system, which can deliver a larger volume of water to a wider area of lawn than a soaker hose.
So investing in both a soaker hose and a lawn sprinkler would be a good idea if you want to efficiently water both your grass and all the plants, vegetables and trees in your garden too.
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >