Every homeowner wants a green lawn, a lush flower or vegetable garden, and a vibrant flowerbed. Of course, achieving those goals requires a lot of watering. You need a solution that guarantees reliable hydration but doesn’t require constant monitoring.
A quality soaker garden hose could be your ideal watering solution. Soaker hoses are more targeted and reliable than sprinklers and more affordable than an in-ground irrigation system.
Yet, with so many products on the market, you may wonder what the best soaker hose is for your purposes. We can help you choose!
You should also read: The Best Garden Hose For Serious Gardeners
The Best Soaker Hose For Your Garden
Depending on your specific irrigation needs, there are many quality soaker hoses out there. All other things being equal, you can get a highly-rated product for relatively little money.
In terms of pure value for money spent, we think these options have a lot to recommend them. They all come in under $30 for a 50-foot model and receive high marks, both from consumers and garden-supply experts:
- The Green Mount 04070P is a high-impact, workable option. It works above- and below-ground.
- FLORIAX’s Heavy Duty Rubber is a small-diameter round hose with a unique porous shell.
- Rocky Mountain Goods is a fabric-covered PVC flat soaker made from 100% environment-neutral recycled material.
Don’t feel bad if your main priority is affordability. The options listed above are great all-around soaker hoses, and price is a valid concern that you should address in your search.
If you are looking for a specific type of product for a particular gardening need, though, we will take you through some more exemplary models.
Best for Small Areas: Water Rights Soaker Hose
Not everyone has acre upon acre of land to water. For those of us working with a relatively small plot of plants to hydrate, the best soaker hose option is Water Right’s SKR-050-MU Soaker Garden Hose. This hose comes in three lengths, but we are specifically speaking about the 25-foot and 50-foot options.
It’s built for flexibility and longevity. Made from a proprietary FDA-grade polyurethane foam material, it boasts superior water flow and unparalleled strength against the sun and elements. It’s especially useful in maneuvering tight spaces. Its chrome-plated brass connectors promise a long work life.
However, this hose is a bit more expensive than other models out there, and it is not flat-laying, which may impede walking in your garden.
FDA-grade poly-foam is strong and resilient
Maneuverable in tight spaces
Strong brass connectors
More expensive than other products
Does not lay flat on the ground
Best 100ft: BUYOOKAY Soaker Hose
If you have a lot of area to cover, your best bet is the BUYOOKAY Soaker Hose 100ft with 1/2’’ Diameter Interface. We find this model to be just about as durable, adaptable, and flexible as anything in the 100-foot range.
Made from recycled rubber, it’s kink-resistant and specially designed to curve around trees and other obstructions. It’s strong material can take a beating. It is also UV-protective, which promotes longevity even when exposed to harsh sunlight for days on end.
On the other hand, the length and tight-coiled packaging mean you will need to lay it out in the sun to straighten it for yard work.
No 100-foot soaker hose can guarantee the consistent water flow of a shorter hose, so you should expect some variation at the far end. That said, this product is as reliable as you will find for its length.
Durable, kink-resistant recycled rubber
Strong pressure throughout the hose
Requires extra work to straighten for use
Some variation in water flow at the end of the hose
Best Long-Term-Use: H2O WORKS
While we cannot promise that any of these soaker hose options will last forever, some products on the market last longer than others. Our pick for the most durable soaker hose is the H2O WORKS Garden Flat Soaker Hose.
This soaker resembles a firehouse hose and for good reason. It’s constructed from tough-yet-flexible PVC, and when the water pressure increases in this hose, it transforms from a flat soaker to a round one.
Even after this transformation, the hose continues a regular soaking regimen. Moreover, its brass couplings are serious hardware, meant for the long haul.
Unfortunately, this soaker hose’s bright blue color does not make it easy to hide in your mulch. Also, if its brass fittings break on you, they are not easy to replace.
Tough PVC material
Innovative, adaptable design
Excellent brass couplings
Not easily camouflaged
Replacing its fittings is not easy
Best Hybrid Sprinkler/Soaker: The Swan Element
If you’re split right down the middle on whether a sprinkler or a soaker hose is right for your project, why not have both?
The Swan GIDS-2496287 Element Sprinkler Soaker Hose is as good a hybrid sprinkler/soaker hose as we have seen. On one side of the hose is a strong spraying line. On the other is a traditional porous soaker. Both sides work fantastically. Plus, it is made of thick, strong rubber.
Because of its unique design, though, laying this hybrid out requires more care than other soaker hoses. Also, this is far from the cheapest option on this list. However, we see a lot of value for the money.
Smart alternate-side design
Strong sprinkler component
Consistent soaking and reliable flow
Thick, durable rubber
Relatively high price point
Hybrid design requires more careful installation
Best Flat Soaker: Gilmour Flat Weeper
Gilmour is one of the premiere names in lawn care, and the Gilmour Flat Weeper Soaker Hose is the finest flat soaker hose on the market.
Its fabric-over-PVC design offers the best of both worlds. It is resilient against wear-and-tear but also easy to work with.
That fabric cover also protects against UV rays to prevent brittleness and abrasions. This model has strong plastic fittings with easy-to-turn cranks. All this material is extremely lightweight and easy to stow.
Unfortunately, because it does not have metal couplings, this soaker hose is more prone to hardware cracking. While it is exceptionally maneuverable and light, its water flow is more vulnerable to obstruction.
Extremely flat to the ground
Great combination fabric and PVC design
Lightweight and easy to store
Plastic fittings can crack
More prone to blockages
Best High-End: Melnor Flat Soaker
We are fans of all the products listed here, but if you’re looking for a premium option for your garden, look no further than the Melnor 65061-AMZ Flat Soaker Hose. Melnor has a devoted fanbase, and with top-quality craftsmanship like this, we can see why.
This soaker hose is constructed from long-lasting vinyl. It lays napkin-flat in storage but can handle watering duties above or below the soil. Its hardware is rust-resistant, and even its 75-foot model maintains constant, steady water flow for every inch.
This level of quality is not cheap. Still, when you compare it to the cost of an embedded drip irrigation system, this soaker hose is a downright bargain!
Tough, resilient vinyl material
Works well above or below the soil
Remarkably consistent water flow, even in longer models
High price for a soaker hose
Benefits of Soaker Hoses vs. Sprinklers
For home gardeners, soaker hoses represent the least expensive drip irrigation option. A high-quality hose costs a mere fraction of the price tag for a permanent sprinkler system installation.
Soaker hoses are also far more customizable. You can place them and replace them over and over to accommodate each season’s annuals.
Perhaps most importantly, they provide a more efficient watering option than attachable sprinklers or sprinkler systems. As we know, most plants need to be watered at their roots, but above-ground sprinklers tend to focus most water on leaves and blooms.
Pro Tip: A good soaker hose system placed amid your mulch will get hydration exactly where it is needed. Soaker hoses also reduce waste from runoff and evaporation.
Some fringe benefits of localized, ground-level soaker-hose watering are reduced weed infiltration and less risk of plant disease from kicked-up soil.
Finally, there is no specialized installation with a soaker hose. You can simply screw it into an outdoor tap and let it flow!
Potential Soaker Hose Pitfalls
Of course, no yard care option is perfect. While soaker hoses are more efficient than sprinklers, they are not totally targeted. Because they emit water through the full length of the hose, they will waste some hydration on unplanted areas.
Additionally, soaker hoses are designed to be used on mostly level terrain. This creates some limitations in where they can be placed.
Finally, they are less durable in the long term than below-ground irrigation systems. Their lifespan is closer to two to four years. However, we will take you through some tips to monitor and address wear-and-tear later in this article.
Learning the Terminology
The terms soaker hose and sprinkler hose can seem interchangeable, but these products are actually quite different.
As stated before, soaker hoses provide steady, direct saturations along the length of the hose. Sprinkler hoses, on the other hand, have individual holes that emit water in a stream like a sprinkler.
To be clear, a sprinkler hose might be the best solution for your lawn and garden. They are less efficient than soaker hoses, but their more elevated, projected water curtains might prove more fitting for your plants.
It is always a good idea to talk to a garden center employee about your specific needs to determine which type of product best meets them.
What to Consider When Buying a Soaker Hose
The sheer variety of soaker hoses out there can feel overwhelming, but you shouldn’t be dissuaded from seeking one out. The large number of products on the market just means you can find one that meets your needs exactly.
As with any purchase, you need to consider many variables when deciding which is the best soaker hose for you. We suggest you consider the following items as you shop:
Vinyl soaker hoses are lighter-weight and cost less than their rubber counterparts. However, they have a shorter lifespan. So, a rubber soaker hose might be worth the extra money.
Like most hoses, you can buy a one in incremental lengths, normally ranging from 25 feet to 100 feet. While a longer one will cover more area, it might not be as efficient. The longer the hose, the lower the flow rate will be.
Some are round, while others lay flat. While a flat hose will be easier to mask and less likely to trip you, it is also less durable than a round hose.
Most home water taps have a release pressure of 60 pounds per square inch (psi) when fully open. Sprinkler hoses have a water pressure of around 30 psi. A soaker hose’s pressure should be lower to accommodate a more stable, constant drip. Look for a pressure of 10 PS.
As we mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of a soaker hose is that you can hook it right up to a water tap. However, we recommend you double-check the fitting size before buying a soaker hose to confirm it lines up with your tap. Also, plastic fittings often wear out or break faster than brass. Always opt for reinforced fittings.
Did You Know The Environment Benefits of Soaker Hoses?
The benefits of a good soaker hose extend beyond a greener garden and healthier flowers. They also play an important role in water conservation. A recent Bellevue, Washington Utilities survey found that soaker hoses achieve comprehensive irrigation with 50% less water than sprinklers.
It is no surprise, then, that a utility company would encourage its customers to invest in a soaker hose. They are a great way to save on your water bill and do the right thing by Mother Earth.
How Long is too Long?
Remember that water pressure and soaking rate will decrease with hose length. As a general rule, you should avoid any soaker hose that is longer than 100 feet. Beyond that length, you risk having suboptimal flow across the entire length and potentially zero soaking at the extreme ends.
Moreover, we recommend you think conservatively about how much soaking length is necessary for your lawn and garden. If a 50-footer will cover the necessary area, there isn’t any reason to purchase a 100-footer.
The 50-foot model will almost certainly provide a superior water flow, and an extra 50 feet won’t do you any good. It’s all about right-sizing your irrigation!
Looking Out for Blockages
Where there is water, there is always the potential for bacterial buildup. Just because water is flowing constantly doesn’t mean it can’t become blocked.
Gretchen Voyle, writing for Michigan State University, warns of the prevalence of bacterial iron in soaking hoses. These are the same deposits you might see causing discoloration in toilet bowls. In soaking hoses, they can block the pores through which water flows.
Bacterial iron is just one of the potential impediments to water flow in these hoses. You should also look out for calcium deposits and sediment. You can address the occasional block yourself, but eventually, you will need to replace the soaker hose.
Additionally, using a product with a backflow preventer will also help.
When Should You Replace Your Soaker Hose?
There are two telltale but somewhat contradictory signs that your soaker hose needs to be retired.
One sign that the product has reached the end of its natural life is when sediment and grime have built up to the point that water is not flowing evenly.
You can scrub and scourge this away for a while, but eventually, it will be too much. Your hose will begin to swell from the pressure. Worse, your plants won’t get the hydration they need.
The other indication that the soaker hose is done is when cracks and abrasions cause water sprays. Again, you can probably remedy these issues in the short term with duct tape or electrical tape. Once a few of these breaches become clear, you will need to call it a day.
We strongly advise you to pay attention to your manufacturer’s warranty. Many of the products listed above have warranties of five years or more.
A couple even have no-return exchange policies, where you can receive your replacement before returning the damaged item. This can save you the headache of hand-watering while waiting for a new hose.
Now that you have a clear idea of the benefits and varieties of soaker hoses on the market, you can choose the product that is best for you.
We think it is best to start your search by thinking about the area and the types of plants you need to irrigate. If you live near a good nursery or tool store, try speaking with a representative there.
Once you have settled on the best soaker hose for your home, you can sit back and enjoy a reliable, low-maintenance, environmentally-friendly lawn care solution.