Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. How we test gear.
Installing a soaker hose keeps your garden looking great while conserving water and minimizing hassle. Short Garden Hose
Watering a garden by hand can be incredibly time consuming, but it can be hard to find the money and time to purchase and install an automatic watering system like drip irrigation or built-in sprinklers. Fortunately, soaker hoses are affordable, easy to install, and can save you countless hours otherwise spent watering by hand.
A soaker hose is similar in appearance to a standard garden hose but has several small perforations along its length to emit a consistent flow of water droplets on your garden’s soil. And just like a garden hose, it can be connected directly to an outdoor water spigot and will start working as soon as you turn on the faucet. Perhaps best of all, they use about 70 percent less water than sprinkler systems. If you’re ready to start saving time and money, read on to learn how to choose the best soaker hose for your needs and to discover what models I recommend.
Material: Soaker hoses can be made from recycled rubber, polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or vinyl. Rubber is typically the most durable and long-lasting, followed by polyurethane, PVC, and finally, vinyl. Higher-end soaker hoses are sometimes reinforced with fiber, making them even more robust and less prone to kinking or tearing. Tire cord fiber—made out of a thermoplastic material used to strengthen tires—is the most common type of fiber manufacturers use. Thick, reinforced rubber and polyurethane soaker hoses can last several years before needing to be replaced, whereas thin PVC and vinyl might only last a single season in some cases.
Shape: Whether a soaker hose is flat or round will largely influence its function and cost. Flat soaker hoses are often the most affordable but are generally only suitable for watering straight rows of plants. They lack the flexibility of round hoses, so they can’t snake around curves and corners without possibly developing kinks in the line and restricting the water pressure. They’re also generally not as rigid and durable as round hoses and might break down more rapidly from environmental exposure and normal wear-and-tear. Round soaker hoses are the most versatile, as they can be easily maneuvered through gardens of all shapes and sizes with minimal risk of kinking. They are also often the most durable but tend to be the most expensive.
Watering Made Easy: The Best Sprinkler Timers and Controllers • This Is the Best Time to Water Your Grass • Tested: The Best Garden Hoses
Length: Soaker hoses are usually available in lengths between 15 to 100 feet. Before you start searching for a soaker hose, measure out the areas you need to water to determine the length of hose you will need. If the area you’ll be watering exceeds the length of the hose, you can purchase multiple hoses and connect them together, end to end.
In addition to my own personal experience with soaker hoses, I took into account user reviews on sites like Amazon and Home Depot along with researching other articles on high-authority sites that reviewed soaker hoses. I selected products in a variety of styles with different materials to account for the widest range of applications, so that you can find the very best soaker hose for your garden’s unique needs.
With an FDA-grade polyurethane hose and lead-free brass connections, Water Right’s soaker hose ensures that your plants get the cleanest water possible. Although regular soaker hoses don’t pose a serious risk of chemical contamination, this soaker hose is ideal for gardeners who want to be absolutely sure their veggies are supplied with water that’s free of unwanted chemicals and toxins. When it comes to its functionality, this soaker hose is incredibly flexible and easy to move around your garden. It will even maintain its flexibility in freezing temperatures. Water Right also incorporates thick rubber strain reliefs at each end of the hose where it’s most prone to kinking, so you don’t need to worry about binding it up as you’re moving it around.
As a gardener on a budget myself, I have been incredibly pleased with Gilmour’s flat soaker hose. It evenly distributes water throughout the hose and hasn’t kinked or clogged on me yet. Although the hose itself is vinyl, Gilmour adds a UV- and clog-resistant exterior sleeve to enhance durability. It’s also incredibly lightweight, making it easy to move around the garden. Then, when the gardening season is over, it can be easily folded up for compact winter storage. Although I was initially concerned about the longevity of the hose, Gilmour’s seven-year warranty gives me plenty of peace of mind.
Linex’s flat soaker hose boasts one of the most impressive flow rates on the market, delivering up to 2 gallons per hour. It’s largely able to achieve this feat because of its reinforced PVC construction that allows it to withstand higher pressures than most other soaker hoses can handle. This enhanced strength also helps it stand up against environmental exposure, like UV rays and extreme temperature fluctuations. In addition to being extremely robust, it remains flexible enough to be able to easily slink in and around your garden beds—a rare characteristic for a flat soaker hose.
If you’re looking for a soaker hose that’s built to last in the face of the toughest environmental conditions, this soaker hose from Rocky Mountain Goods is second to none. It was designed with longevity in mind; the PVC hose is covered with an extra-strength nylon fabric cover. In fact, Rocky Mountain Goods is so confident in this hose that they back it with a lifetime warranty. Unfortunately, the trade-off for its extra stout nature is limited flexibility. Customers have reported that its incredibly rigid and difficult to move around their gardens.
If you desire multi-purpose functionality, this soaker hose from Swan Products serves as both a standard soaker hose and sprinkler depending on how you orient the hose. It has six holes per foot on one side of the hose, and if you lay the holes facing toward the ground, it will act as a soaker. Lay the holes facing upward, and it will broadcast a misty spray into the air. The manufacturer doesn’t state the distance the water sprays from the hose (that likely depends on the water pressure), but user reports range between several inches to a couple of feet. Along with multi-purpose functionality, this hose was built to last with UV-resistant rubber.
Not every garden consists of straight, neat rows that you can easily maneuver a hose around. When that’s the case, you need a soaker hose that can seamlessly slink the various twists and turns without binding or kinking. The Buyookay soaker hose does just that. Made with fiber-reinforced and ultra-flexible rubber, this hose can navigate the contours of practically any garden with ease and even maintains its flexibility in colder temperatures. For sharp twists and turns, the hose comes with various fittings that allows the hose to branch off at a 90-degree angle.
With the Osmile soaker hose, you won’t have to worry about delivering water to the furthest reaches of your large garden. This extra-thick hose possesses the ability to maintain a high water pressure throughout its 100 feet, delivering water an astonishing distance—up to a mile away if you connect multiple hoses together. The brass fittings on either end ensure a tight, secure connection for attaching multiple hoses together for particularly large spaces. Although it’s fairly expensive, the time and money you’re likely to save compared to using other watering methods might well make it worth the extra cost.
Whether your garden has straight rows of beds or multiple twists and turns, Taikia’s soaker hose kit can accommodate gardens of all shapes and sizes. Along with a flexible and durable rubber hose that’s available in multiple lengths, the kit comes with several fittings and connectors to accommodate the unique shape of any landscape. The soaker hose has UV-resistant additives and is fiber-reinforced to keep it resilient against environmental stressors. As opposed to most other soaker hoses that can get clogged from burying them in soil, this hose is designed for use both below and above ground. Burying your soaker hose underneath the soil can conceal it from view which might be desirable if you find the exposed hose to be an eyesore.
PM: Can you connect two soaker hoses together? J.F.: Most soaker hoses are equipped with two threaded water connections: a female connection for attaching to the water supply on one end and a male connection for attaching another hose to on the other end. The male connection will typically be covered with a cap that will need to be removed before you can connect the second hose to it.
PM: How long should you leave soaker hoses on? J.F.: As a general rule, you should run your soaker hose for about 30 to 60 minutes, two or three times a week. However, this will depend on the water pressure coming from your spigot, the individual soaker hose, the season, your climate, and your garden’s soil conditions.
Most gardens will require one to two inches of water penetration to maintain optimal health. The depth of water penetration will depend on the soaker hose’s flow rate, or the amount of water it will emit in gallons per minute or hour. Flow rate is dictated by the water pressure coming from your spigot (usually between 40 and 45 psi, but can be as high as 70 or as low as 30) along with the length, diameter, and material composition of the soaker hose. A longer soaker hose made out of more durable material and of a larger diameter will generally be able to deliver more water more rapidly to your soil. It will also be able to handle larger flow rates from the water spigot, further increasing the speed and quantity of water delivery.
The season, your climate, and your garden’s soil conditions will also influence how much water your garden will need. When the weather is hot and dry, you will likely need to water more often and for longer. When it’s cool and moist, you can water less often.
With all of these factors to consider, it might take some experimentation to find the optimal run time for your soaker hose. An effective way to do this is to stick a finger, soil probe, garden trowel, or shovel into the soil after 30 or so minutes of watering.
Tarpaulin Tent PM: Can soaker hoses get clogged, and what can readers do if this happens? J.F.: The outside of a soaker hoses can occasionally get clogged from soil buildup, and the inside might close from calcium buildup. If you see any dry spots around the soaker hose, a clog is likely to blame. Some soaker hoses are equipped with a clog-resistant fabric cover to prevent clogs from soil, but internal calcium buildup from hard water can still result. To combat this, you can install an inline water filter in between the water supply and soaker hose, or soak the clogged section of hose in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.