Soaker hoses’ slow, steady drip ensures that almost no water is lost to surface runoff or evaporation—all of that water goes to your plants. It also means very few nutrients leach down beyond the reach of plant roots. Furthermore, since soaker hoses deliver water directly to the plants you want to grow, less is wasted on weeds. The soil surface between the plants also remains drier, which discourages weed seeds from sprouting.
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For busy gardeners, the main benefit of using a drip irrigation system is the savings of both time and effort. Drip irrigation systems eliminate the need to drag around hoses and sprinklers—you place your soaker hoses once, and leave them be. For drip irrigation systems that use a timer, gardeners need only spend a few seconds to turn the system on; the timer automatically turns it off.
Drip irrigation systems are good for plants, too. Plants watered with soaker hoses grow more quickly and are more productive, because they have all the water they need and their growth isn’t slowed by water stress. (This is especially true when drip irrigation is used in conjunction with mulch.) Also, plants watered by drip irrigation don’t end up with wet foliage from sprinkler spray, and that can help prevent some foliage diseases such as powdery mildew.
Where To Install Soaker Hoses
The easiest way to experiment with drip irrigation is to buy a couple of soaker hoses, which ooze water over their entire length—the water seeps out through tiny pores along the length of the hose. You can snake soaker hoses through garden beds of roses and perennials, among shrubs, or in the vegetable garden, where the hoses can be stretched parallel to rows of crops. Leave the soakers in place through the growing season. When it’s time to water, connect them to the nearest faucet with a garden hose.
Tip: To get the kinks out of a soaker hose that has been stored tightly coiled, unroll the hose and let the sun warm it for an hour or more.