If you’re looking to buy a soaker hose, you’re the kind of person who likes to be efficient. I know just how you feel. It’s the exact same reason I first decided to buy a soaker hose way back, and I can tell you I have been through a few of them since. I needed a simple irrigation system that could be set up fast and then forgot about, knowing my garden was going to be in great condition.
Despite their efficiency, the quality and reliability of soaker hoses can be hit and miss. I have reviewed the best soaker hoses out there and want to offer you a frank and honest review so you can select the right product and buy with confidence.
- Top 3 Soaker Hoses
- What Is A Soaker Hose?
- Types Of Soaker Hose
- Best Soaker Hoses Reviewed
- Benefits of Using a Soaker Hose For Trees and Gardens
- How To Use A Soaking Hose
- How To Install Soaker Hose Kits
- Soaking Hose vs. Drip Irrigation
- Verdict: Soaker Hose Irrigation
- Frequently Asked Questions
Top 3 Soaker Hoses
If you’re in a hurry, the three hoses I have highlighted below offer the best in class for each type.
Best Overall Soaker Hose
Premium quality soaker hose that will cope with anything you throw at it. Brass connectors, made in the USA.
Best Sprinkler & Soaker Combo
Creative design that soaks or sprinkles, offering versatility for vegetables, flower beds, and lawns.
Best Flat Soaker Hose
The most robust flat soaker hose tested, with metal connectors. Easy to roll and store over winter.
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What Is A Soaker Hose?
First off, let’s clarify what a soaking hose is for anyone who is just dipping their toe into the world of garden irrigation. There are lots of different options available but the standard garden variety is, in my opinion, the most efficient of them all. It’s the plug-and-play of watering systems.
In simple terms, this style of hose is a length of pipe or tubing perforated to allow droplets of water to weep through and soak the ground along the length of the pipe.
The size and number of holes in the pipe control the soaking rate of the water, allowing you to switch on your hose for a set time to deliver the required volume of water to irrigate your garden.
This design lends itself to use on flat sections of garden, where it will deliver water directly to the ground it lays upon. It’s the perfect water delivery system for vegetable beds, trees, or running a line along a hedgerow or box hedge.
Using a flexible hose and landscape staples allows you to weave the irrigation through flower borders, stapling the hose down around the base of shrubs and plants or amongst strawberry beds.
You can also create angles, loops, and T-shaped junctions with small plastic barbed connectors, allowing you to build a wide range of bespoke patterns and layouts.
Types Of Soaker Hose
Garden hoses come in all shapes and sizes, from the expandable garden hose to the coiled garden hose. Before you commit to buying a hose, it’s worth having a basic understanding of what types of hoses are available for soaking and understanding the pros and cons of each of the materials or design features.
A weeper hose is simply another term for soaking hoses. Some drip, the majority weep, and some even have a dual function of weeping and spraying. Most people opt for the weeping or soaking function, where the wall of the hose allows a continuous slow release of water that gathers to create droplets which roll down onto the soil and soak in.
A drip hose has a slightly different wall structure than a weeper hose. The drip hose length is a non-permeable material with small holes pierced along the entire length that release droplets of water. The main advantage of a drip hose is that you can have a more durable hose material and more control over the flow rate.
Although not strictly a soaking hose, the sprinkler hose still delivers irrigation close to the hose. But as the name suggests, it sprinkles the water up to a few inches out from the hose pipe. It’s a good option if you need a slightly broader distribution of water.
Flat Vs Round
The shape of the hose pipe is primarily dictated by the material the hose is manufactured from. A round pipe is more durable against weather and accidental damage, such as stepping on the hose or catching it on shrub thorns or serrated brick edges. The standard round, black, recycled rubber hoses tend to be more rigid and are preferable when used in long straight lines.
Flat hoses have more flexibility, so you can fold them away in smaller bundles for storing over winter. They are easier to lay and weave in between existing vegetation. But, of course, they are less durable and more prone to tears, rips, or weather damage.
If you’re looking for a general-purpose hose then check out our article Best Lightweight Garden Hose to find high-quality all-purpose garden hoses.
One of the best qualities of soaker irrigation is the flexibility of making your own configuration with connectors available from Amazon.com or garden centers.
You can literally go around 90-degree corners using connectors, join sections using coupling connectors or create T or cross junctions, and incorporate shut-off taps at any point on the hose length.
Soaking hose kits are available, offering you a bundle of fittings, connectors, shut-off taps, and staples or pegs. From time to time you can find them paired with a hose as part of a promotional bundle.
Garden Hose Stakes or Landscape Staples
An important part of laying any form of irrigation pipework is to have it stay in place once the water tap is released and the water pressure fills the pipe.
For this, I recommend using garden hose stakes or landscape staples. They are cheap and readily available online and can save a huge amount of frustration. You can find hose stakes here.
Best Soaker Hoses Reviewed
I delved deep into the market to find the best hoses available, including a number of options that either I or one of my co-writers have used. Our main considerations are the overall performance, quality of the build, durability as well as ease of use.
As well as our own tests and expert opinions, I have also taken into account customer reviews across many major online platforms and growers forums to demonstrate the overall customer satisfaction with the products we have reviewed.
- Premium polyurethane hose, made in the USA
- Chrome-plated brass fittings
- Available in 25’, 50’ and 100’ feet lengths
- Premium pricing
Water Right’s SKR-050-MU 50 Foot Soaker Garden Hose is my top product for some pretty compelling reasons.
Coated in soft microcellular polyurethane foam which the manufacturer claims offers improved weeping performance, there’s no doubt this product is highly durable.
Available in 25’, 50’, and 100’ lengths, it will cover almost all garden sizes. The materials used to make this hose allow for super snaking capabilities to lay it through any landscape twists or turns kink-free.
Due to the materials used to make this hose, it comes with all-weather performance and will not deteriorate in direct sunlight, It’s also backed by a 5-year manufacturer guarantee.
- Easy to use and handle
- Does a great job of spreading the water evenly
- Minimal to no leakage problems
- Inconsistent water distribution
- Needs careful placement to get the desired soak or sprinkle effect
- A little stiff
This garden hose from Element has a unique two-in-one design. In addition to using the product as a soaking hose, it can also double as a sprinkler – all you need to do is adjust the design.
Moreover, you don’t have to worry about twisting and kinks, while the laser-cut holes ensure consistency and even watering. The water released from the hose is similar to that of a spray, and generally shoots between an inch to two into the air.
It’s UV-protected (patented), making it a good choice for gardens that are prone to direct sunlight. Nearly 65% of the materials used to create the hose are recycled, which is a huge plus point if you care about the environment.
You get brass male and female connections, along with plastic couplings.
The dual action of the Swan Products Element Sprinkler hose can be tricky to lay. Depending on its intended use, you either get a short spray upwards that acts as the sprinkler, or the spray shoots downwards as a soaker.
The hose is marked with lines to show which way up to lay the hose. The manufacturer recommends securing the hose in place with landscape staples or pegs for the best results. Find the Elamentor Soaker Hose latest price here on Amazon.
- Great build quality for a flat hose
- Heavy-duty PVC with metal connectors
- Will not fold away as small as most flat hoses
The Linex Heavy Duty Soaker Hose irrigates at a rate of 2 gallons per 2 minutes at regular 60 PSI, which outperforms most of the other recycled hoses on the market. So this has good credentials and feels hard-wearing. It is flexible and was laid down easily in my trial of the product.
Clearly, the heavy-duty nature of this product means it is somewhere in between a vinyl round hose and a flexible flat hose such as the Melnor product. Flat hoses are usually for convenience and should fold down real small for storage, well you don’t quite get that here. But you are getting high quality, and I like it.
If you are after a heavy-duty flat hose with metal connectors, then this will be perfect. You can check the latest price here for Linex Flat Soaker Hose.
- A 50-foot length of traditional soaker hose suitable for cutting to any length
- Very reliable, and more robust than any other similar product I have used
- More rigid than the premium hoses
If you have a preference for a standard soaking hose, then Rocky Mountain is the best product I have used. With available 25ft or 50ft lengths, the only thing missing is landscape staples for staking your hose down, so make sure you pick some up here.
As I covered earlier in this article, this type of hard-wall hose is rigid, so try laying the pipe in the sun for an hour before setting it in its final position or sit it in warm water to soften it before laying it. This will help soften the rubber wall and make it more pliable, allowing it to form up into the desired final position. I think this is particularly important when laying soaker hose in raised beds where you tend to wind the hose.
You can bury this type of rigid hose under a layer of mulch around 1-2 inches deep. Check the latest Rocky Mountain price here.
- Evenly distributed holes for well-regulated soaking
- Vinyl hose construction provides greater flexibility
- 7-year guarantee
- Kinks easier than the Water Right Hose
The Apex Soaker Hose is another vinyl hose providing a softer construction for better flexibility and control when laying the hose in the pattern you’re looking for. The machine-pierced holes give great drip control, offering a far superior flow across the whole length of the hose pipe.
This hose pipe is softer than the Water Right Hose and this can lead to a few kinks when first sitting the pipe on the ground but nothing to complain about. When handling both products, I would still choose the Water Right, as these details are what split the competition.
If you’re looking for a vinyl hose that is slightly cheaper than the Water Right Hose, then you won’t go far wrong with the Apex product. You can pick up Teknor Apex Soaker Hose online here.
- Easy to set up and use
- Higher durability
- Lies flat on the ground
- Comes with a 7-year warranty
- Frequent kinking problems
- Doesn’t come with a pressure regulator
- Longer-length models are a little bulky
If you’re looking for a fully customizable and flexible half-inch hose, the Taisia 1/2-Inch Soaker Hose might be right up your alley. Available in 25 feet, 50 feet, and 75 feet sizes, this hose has options for every garden.
The hose is made with 100% recycled materials using a combination of 70% recycled rubber and 30% recycled polyethylene.
Taisia has incorporated UV inhibitors into the tube that extends the lifespan of this hose. As a result, you can use it in any weather conditions with minimal risk of cracks or bulges.
Another great quality of the Taisia hose is its durable and lightweight structure. It features a small, half-inch diameter that is reinforced with high tensile strength material, making it incredibly easy for you to arrange the hose around the plants. This can be especially useful if you plan to lay it around raised vegetable beds, flower beds, or hard landscaping.
Long, round hoses tend to be heavier and more rigid, leading to accidental damage to plants if they are moved around frequently.
You’re assured of uniform distribution of water around your plants, allowing you to enjoy a lush, green garden with little to no water wastage.
The hose comes with a bronze and plastic connector but my personal recommendation would be to opt for the former for higher durability.
I would have preferred the addition of a pressure regulator, though. The hose is also slightly bulky if you choose the 75-foot size. Keeping this in mind, the 50-foot length would be a better option if you don’t have an overly large backyard. Check Taisia 1/2-Inch Soaker Hose’s latest price here.
- Provides value for money
- Can be flattened for easy storage
- Features rust-free end caps
- Has a relatively short warranty
- Past customers have complained of frequent kinking problems
- Not the most durable option available on the market
Melnor is a very reputable brand that has established a loyal fan base when it comes to hoses and other gardening equipment. The brand has been going strong for more than six decades now, so you know that when you buy anything from Melnor, it’s nothing but the best.
Most of the time, customers search for hoses that are easy to store. Flat hoses are your best option here.
Although the one that we’ve chosen is 50-foot long, you have two other options, 25 feet and 75 feet in length.
The Melnor hose is made with highly durable vinyl and, when folded, takes up only 0.05 ft.³ in your garden shed. The end cap is rust-resistant and allows you to attach extra hoses, in case you want to extend the length.
You can place the hose on the surface of the soil or bury it under a thin layer of soil or mulch.
I particularly like the flexible construction that enables you to run the hose around corners with minimal effort. You still have to position it carefully to prevent kinks. You can also hold it in place by adding a few landscape staples or pegs. You can buy Melnor Soaker Hose online at Amazon.com
Similar to other flat hoses, the Melnor hose isn’t the most durable on the market. Instead, its qualities come in the shape of a lightweight, easy-to-store product that has a 2-year warranty. But you can expect to get a good 4 years+ of good use out of it.
- Uses clog-resistant fabric cover
- Affordable and durable
- Lightweight and portable
- Comes with a seven-year warranty
- More prone to rupturing
- Drip can be a bit inconsistent at times
It’s not essential to spend a lot of money to get a high-quality, long-lasting hose. This Gilmour Flat Weeper Soaker Hose is a fair price and represents really good value for the money.
It uses a PVC liner, which is perforated with several tiny holes all across its entire length. The liner is covered in fabric to make way for water seepage.
This creates the gradual watering action you’re looking for and that’s great for delicate plants. Additionally, if there is ever a case where your ground is hard after a dry spell, you won’t have to worry about losing too much water to run off or evaporation with this design.
For best results, it’s recommended to maintain a water pressure of 60 PSI.
The Gilmour hose is made out of 100% recycled and environmentally friendly vinyl, which makes it safe for your plants and the earth. You have the option to choose between three lengths: 25, 50, and 75 feet. Gilmour Flat Soaker Hose available from Amazon.com
The fabric covering protects the hose from UV rays, preventing cracks due to sun exposure. You can easily bury the Gilmour underground because of its robust construction – just remember to drain all the water and bring the hose inside whenever the weather turns icy or too cold to avoid splitting or bursting.
The Gilmour hose is extremely lightweight, allowing you to move it around with very little effort. Plus, the flat design means that storage is convenient too.
In case you want to snake the hose around curves, don’t forget to soak it in water before. You may get a little wet but maneuvering the hose would be much easier with the water running through it. Do this on a sunny day, it’s quite refreshing!
One disadvantage of this very lightweight hose is it’s slightly more prone to rupture. It’s more delicate compared to other options on the list. But considering the affordability of this product, this isn’t a big deal-breaker for me. I love the performance and convenience.
Fortunately, you get a 7-year limited warranty, ensuring the safety of your investment.
Benefits of Using a Soaker Hose For Trees and Gardens
Easy to Use
Every hose has a pressure rating, which helps determine whether or not you have to use the pressure regulator. You can use the regulator to adjust the amount of water via the tap if needed.
Prevents Soil Erosion
The main idea behind installing a soaking hose is that it releases the water gradually into the soil. This can be useful for reducing water usage and preventing any topsoil erosion.
Topsoil erosion is a common problem when high water pressure is used, which is why the gradual approach of a soaker hose is preferable.
Facilitates Weed Control
You have a very concentrated water area when using a soaking hose. This can restrict the water supply to weeds and other undesirable plants in your garden.
Eventually, all the weeds will die without the need to physically pull them out from the garden or use any harmful weed killer or chemicals.
Lower Upfront Cost
Since these hoses don’t have any complex moving parts, they’re very simple to use. Meaning the overall cost to install and run is low. In addition, you can use them in conjunction with a timer to release water flow for set periods of time. This is perfect for saving water and getting the optimum level of hydration down into your plant’s roots.
Prevents Fungal Growth
Soaker hoses supply water directly at the ground level, protecting the plant from getting overly soaked and reducing the chance of any fungal growth on leaves or other vegetation.
This style of soaking irrigation system permits water to seep directly into the soil, boosting the overall moisture content. It also stops excessive evaporation, allowing you to enjoy better and healthier plant growth.
How To Use A Soaking Hose
First, let’s look at a standard soaking hose setup, then we will look at hose kits and a bespoke configuration.
- Step 1: If you’re using a brand-new hose, leave it out in the open for about an hour or so after unwinding it. This will help loosen the tight coils of the hose, allowing you to lay it, without too much effort.
- Step 2: Gently remove the end cap from the hose and hook it to your tap or water source. Proceed to run water for a couple of minutes to flush the hose. I highly recommend flushing new hoses before actually using them once or twice throughout the year to remove any debris contained inside the hose. Once done, replace the end cap.
- Step 3: You can connect the hose directly to a spout if your garden is close to a faucet. Or you can attach a regular garden hose between the soaker and main water supply instead.
- Step 4: Stretch the hose out before turning on the water. You can adjust the pressure until you get a slow, steady drip. I like to peg my hose down using steel hockey stick-shaped tent pegs or landscape staples.
How To Install Soaker Hose Kits
The first part of planning your irrigation system is to make sure you understand your final layout. You will need to check that you have a standard section of pipe to get your water to the area that requires irrigation. Think about it…you cannot attach the hose directly to your tap if your water source is in your home. Even with an outdoor tap, you want to avoid losing water pressure by having unnecessary weeping in areas leading up to your designated soaking zone.
How To Set Up a Soaking Hose System
- Plan your water supply to the areas you want to soak, making sure you have a cut-off tap somewhere along the line. I recommend using a 16mm LDPE pipe for the waterline.
- Measure the length of the hose required. You can do this with a measuring tape or a ball of string and measure the string afterward. This is sometimes easier for dealing with curved or windy patterns
- Count the number of connectors you will need for any right angles, splitters, or couplers. Don’t forget the end caps.
- If you are cutting pipes, cut small areas and check the measurements and layout as you go to avoid costly mistakes.
- You can use hot water to soften the hose pipe to make it easier to push connectors in.
- Test all of your connection is watertight before you bury any LDPE waterline pipe
I like to use a water timer for my soaker or drip irrigation systems. Once set it will open the water valve and run the irrigation for as long as required.
Also remember it can be useful to use garden staples to pin down your hose to keep it in position, especially when the hose is running alongside soft vegetation such as vegetables.
How Long To Run Soaker Hose In Your Garden
The most reliable way to establish how long to run a soaker hose in your garden is to test it. Run the system over dry soil for 30 minutes and test the ground with a moisture meter. You can then simply adjust the timing to meet your moisture requirements.
I run mine for 1 hour twice per week to give you a rough benchmark. Obviously, the texture of your soil will affect its ability to hold the moisture, as will the weather, so run the trial over a couple of weeks until you find the sweet spot.
Soaking Hose vs. Drip Irrigation
Now that I’ve discussed the benefits of a soaker hose, let’s understand the difference between it and drip irrigation.
A drip irrigation system is a set-up of long tubes or pipework fitted with emitters. Secondary tubes are attached to the main water line, which is connected to a tap that is fitted with a filter, pressure regulator, or backflow valve.
The two most common types of drip irrigation systems include drip tape and drip line.
In this case, the water is delivered directly to the base of your plants. You can set up the system to target specific areas of your garden, making it an excellent choice for larger properties. A soaker hose, on the contrary, isn’t quite as versatile in terms of the branching pipe network of a drip irrigation system.
However, the emitters on drip systems have a tendency to become clogged over time. Hence, they require periodic inspection and up-to-date maintenance. Clogging, however, isn’t an issue with soaker hoses due to their simple construction.
All in all, you should use a soaking hose if you have a smaller garden based on level ground, while drip irrigation is a better option for people with bigger gardens configured in long, straight rows. The latter works well with a sloped ground too.
Verdict: Soaker Hose Irrigation
Best Overall Soaker Hose
Premium quality soaker hose that will cope with anything you throw at it. Brass connectors, made in the USA.
Whatever you’re looking for make sure you buy the product with the durability to withstand the work you want it to do. There’s nothing worse than investing in a piece of equipment, only for it to let you down and leave you wishing you had stepped up the quality level, saving you money in the long run.